Dealing with stale data on File Servers

Dealing with stale data on File Servers

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For an overview of File Classification Infrastructure, check Classifying files based on location and content using the File Classification Infrastructure (FCI) in Windows Server 2008 R2


Are your file servers full of stale data slowing down your backups and taking up valuable space? Do you have no time to figure out how to deal with it or which piece of software you need to buy to do it for you? In Windows Server 2008 R2, this is a 5 minute job and requires no extra software.

The File Server Resource Manager (FSRM) has long been a tool to help IT administrators manage their storage allocations. In Windows Server 2008 R2, FSRM has become even more powerful with the addition of File Management Tasks. Simply setup the FSRM Role Service (part of the File Server Role) and navigate to FSRM’s File Management Task section.

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Basically, File Management Tasks are a mechanism  to apply a simple command to a selected set of files on a scheduled basis. In this post we will cover the built in functionality to expire data. How to leverage these further will be covered in another post.

Let’s create a new File Management Task (click “Create File Management Task”) and call it Expire Stale Data. Every File Management Task covers files in a series of scopes, so make sure to add at least one.

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File expiration is a built in mechanism that the admin can leverage. This action really means moving data out of the control of the users and into the control of the admin. It does this by moving all selected files into a specified directory while preserving their directory structure. The admin can then backup or archive the files and delete them. To do that we need to define where to put the files once they are expired.

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If files suddenly started to disappear out of their shares, the administrator would have to deal with a riot. FSRM’s File Management Tasks provide a notification mechanisms to inform users that their files will be expired soon. Notifications can be triggered on a series of dates before the files are actually expired. Notifications can include:

  • An email to the administrator listing all the files being expired
  • An email to individual users with a list of their files (as determined by the file owner) that are being expired
  • Event log entries
  • Or a customized action

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Of course a report is generated in various formats (including DHTML, XML, and CSV) when files are expired, but the big question is: What is stale data? File Management Tasks can select data based on a series of conditions:

  • File names matching a supplied wildcard pattern
  • How many days it has been since the file was created
  • How many days it has been since the file was last modified
  • How many days it has been since the file was last accessed (careful with this one; servers do not track last accessed dates for files by default)

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If a file matches all of these conditions, then the File Management Task will expire it when the task runs. If you want to select files based on other criteria, the conditions can include a series of classification property conditions based on the File Classification Infrastructure properties.

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Here we have a condition tab that looks for files that have not been modified in 10 years and have a Secrecy classification lower than “High.”

Of course, File Management Tasks can be set to run on individual schedules as well.

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It’s that simple to setup an automated job that identifies files matching the specified criteria on a file server and automatically expires them, while making sure both you and your users are informed of what is happening.

Now wouldn’t it be great if you could do more than just expire files with File Management Tasks? See Customizing File Management Tasks.

 

Post by Matthias Wollnik

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  • During the initial planning phases of R2, we had the opportunity to interview several IT professionals

  • I wanted to call your attention to four new blog posts this morning from Nir Ben Zvi (Senior Program

  • (This is a follow up to the blog entry that presented the File Classification Infrastructure in Windows