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Reviewing File Server Limits

Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2

As you plan your file server configuration, keep in mind file system, storage, and other limits related to file servers. Table 2.10 describes these limits.

Table 2.10   File System, Storage, and File Server Limits for Windows Server 2003

Description Limit

Maximum size of a basic volume

2 TB

Maximum size of a dynamic volume

2 TB for simple and mirrored (RAID-1) volumes.

Up to 64 TB for spanned and striped (RAID-0) volumes. (2 TB per disk with a maximum of 32 disks per volume.)

Up to 62 TB for RAID-5 volumes. (2 TB per disk with a maximum of 32 disks per volume and 2 TB used for parity.)

Maximum number of dynamic volumes per disk group


A disk group is collection of dynamic disks. Windows Server 2003 supports one disk group per server.

Maximum size of an NTFS volume

232 clusters minus 1 cluster

Using a 64-kilobyte (KB) cluster (the maximum NTFS cluster size), the maximum size of an NTFS volume is 256 TB minus 64 KB.

Using a 4-KB cluster (the default NTFS cluster size), the maximum size of an NTFS volume is 16 TB minus 4 KB.

Maximum file size on an NTFS volume

16 TB (244 bytes) minus 64 KB

Maximum number of files on an NTFS volume

4,294,967,295 (232 minus 1 file)

There is no limit to the number of files that can be stored in a folder. For recommendations on limiting the number of files stored on a volume, see "Determining Maximum Volume Size" later in this chapter.

Maximum number of clusters on an NTFS volume

4,294,967,296 (232)

Maximum volumes per server

Approximately 2,000 volumes.

Up to 1,000 of these volumes can be dynamic volumes; the rest are basic volumes. Boot times increase as you increase the number of volumes. In addition, you must use mounted drives to access volumes when all drive letters on a server have been used. For more information about mounted drives, see "Using NTFS mounted drives" in Help and Support Center for Windows Server 2003.

Maximum number of shared folders on a server

Varies. The number of shares on a server affects server boot time. On a server with typical hardware and thousands of shares, boot time can be delayed by minutes. Exact delays depend on server hardware.

Shared folder information is stored in the system hive of the registry. For systems with less than 800 MB of RAM, the System hive can be as large as one-quarter of the physical memory. For systems with more than 800 MB of RAM, the maximum size of the System hive is 200 MB. If the system hive exceeds this limit, the server cannot mount the registry at startup and Windows Server 2003 cannot start.

For information about optimizing NTFS performance, see the Storage Technologies Collection of the Windows Server 2003 Technical Reference (or see the Storage Technologies Collection on the Web at