Create an Empty File in Windows of fixed size

I’m on the team that manages one of our largest (Windows-based) fileserver installations, on the order of nearly 3TB.  Back when we crossed the 1TB threshold (two years ago), we decided to start mirroring the fileserver in another building, just to cover our butts in the event of a disaster (of the IT variety).  We’ve weathered a few in the past.

The mirroring process required a little bit of space on each drive/LUN to store synchronization files.  So going forward from that point, we sized all LUNs about 10% larger than the department request (and only charged each department the amount of their initial request).  

It turned out that we didn’t have to allocate the additional space for the mirroring process.  It’s extremely impractical to shrink a volume/drive, so how do we take the slack-space so that the departments don’t use more than what they’re paying for?

Enter the fsutil command-line utility (which has been around since Windows XP!).

So, for example, we have a 550GB volume/drive/LUN, the department only paid for 500GB, and we want to take the 50GB of “extra” space:

fsutil file createnew SystemFileDoNotDelete.dat 53687091200

That last number is a little annoying; the file size is in bytes.  Who works in bytes anymore?

Anywho, the 10% slack space ended up being useful yesterday; one of the 500GB drives for the Marketing department became 100% full!  This is totally insane to me, but luckily we were able to avoid any problems by temporarily allocating part of the slack space by resizing the “empty” file.  Score one for unintended consequences.

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14 Responses to “Create an Empty File in Windows of fixed size”


  1. 1 janis and michael January 7, 2007 at 19:46 pm

    Joey and Ted,

    We checked out the blog and the pics. good times. We miss you guys!

    Have we mentioned the B&B for Newfoundlands that we opened in Park Slope? Something to think about…

    -Janis and Michael

  2. 2 guamaniac January 8, 2007 at 12:39 pm

    Janis!

    B&B for Newfoundlands? Does that mean we can crash at Michael’s apt in Park Slope when we visit NYC?

  3. 3 Kurt Faasse February 3, 2007 at 11:42 am

    Thanks for revealing the existence of fsutil. It is precisely the tool that I need. I can only wonder why MS did not include a simple text file with XP listing all the available tools and their basic usage.

  4. 4 Oleg Blinov February 9, 2007 at 2:24 am

    Perfect!Exactly what I was looking for!I have reserved some space on the drive where MS Exch resides in case I would need it in emergency ;-)!

  5. 5 Sivaram September 12, 2008 at 9:23 am

    fsutil was really a useful tool, i vouch Kurt Faasse. If some readme regarding the utils available with winxp will be very userful

  6. 6 Bozo April 13, 2010 at 9:06 am

    It should be noted that ‘fsutil’ only works when started with admin rights, so it’s not a generic solution for i.e. tool scripts which are used from a non-admin account.

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