A reporting tool that makes monitoring disk usage easy

DiskAdvisor 4.0 from W. Quinn Associates is a disk-reporting tool that comes with 18 predefined reports that address problems of usage, space wastage, ownership, security, and administration. The product makes generating reports easy. Users can access the detailed documentation in three ways: as hard copy, from the CD-ROM in Adobe Acrobat Portable Document Format (PDF), and, except for the Wasted Space report, through the Help file.

The CD-ROM also includes QuotaAdvisor and DiskWatcher, so installation requires you to enter a serial number to unlock the respective module. When I tried to install DiskAdvisor, the installation routine displayed the error message The ordinal 6453 could not be located in the dynamic link library MFC42.dll. W. Quinn's support Web site offers a workaround that requires you to run the module's respective setup.exe file from the CD-ROM. The workaround worked fine with Windows NT 4.0 with Service Pack 3 (SP3), SP4, and SP5.

After I clicked the icon that setup placed on my desktop, the main window opened, and the Report Wizard started. The wizard helped me choose objects, such as domains, systems, partitions, and directories, to run the reports against.

Because DiskAdvisor can search an NT network for files that waste disk space, I decided to run a search on my test network. When I ran a standard report, the wizard used the factory defaults to generate a report. The Report Wizard didn't let me alter the report properties. I found the standard report to be uninformative because on the two partitions and 31,000 files that I analyzed, DiskAdvisor considered nearly 22,000 files (including pagefile.sys and winword.exe) to be potential space wasters. DiskAdvisor identified such a large number of potential space-wasting files because the program considers only file attributes such as revision date, access date, size, and duplication.

I selected the DiskAdvisor tab to run the same report without the wizard. The Object tab offered the same choices as with the wizard, but for this report, I excluded directories and files that I knew didn't waste space (e.g., backup directories). The Reports tab offered more choices this time. I right-clicked the Wasted Space report to gain access to the Properties panel and edited the file-revision and file-access criteria. I also set the file size and the number of file duplicates to consider wasteful. I used the Filter tab to select files by filename and extension and user. Advanced options in the Report Sets panel offered choices such as what information to display and what format to save the report in. When I ran this report, the number of files potentially wasting space dropped to 50. After selecting the reporting options, I used the Report Wizard to run a report, and the wizard used my choices instead of the default settings.

DiskAdvisor also includes Custom Report Writer (CRW), which Screen 1 shows. CRW is a dual-pass report generator that lets you produce custom reports, supports an indefinite number of sort and summarization levels, and performs complex calculations (e.g., totals on totals, percents on percents). You can use CRW to combine data elements between quota files, NTFS, and FAT file systems.

You can automatically email reports through Messaging API (MAPI)-compliant or SMTP email interfaces to selected users. For this report output option, you specify an email address and a Microsoft Exchange Server profile or the SMTP server address.

I recommend DiskAdvisor, which provides helpful insights into storage space usage on a network and a convenient way to disperse the information to network users. The product might be the tool you need to decide whether to set disk quotas. You can download a 30-day evaluation copy of the software from W. Quinn's Web site.

DiskAdvisor 4.0
Contact: W. Quinn Associates * 800-829-3453
Web: http://www.wquinn.com
Price: $395 per server
System Requirements: Windows NT Server 3.51 or later; or NT Workstation 3.51 or later, x86 processor or better; or AXP, 16MB of RAM, 12MB of hard disk space