You can set both soft limits and hard limits. The system does not allow a user to exceed his or her hard limit. However, a system administrator might set a soft limit, which the user can temporarily exceed. The soft limit must be less than the hard limit.
Once the user exceeds the soft limit, a quota timer begins. While the quota timer is ticking, the user is allowed to operate above the soft limit but cannot exceed the hard limit. Once the user goes below the soft limit, the timer is reset. However, if the user's usage remains above the soft limit when the timer expires, the soft limit is enforced as a hard limit. By default, the soft limit timer is set to seven days.
The timeleft field in the repquota and quota commands shows the value of the timer.
For example, let's say a user has a soft limit of 10,000 blocks and a hard limit of 12,000 blocks. If the user's block usage exceeds 10,000 blocks and the seven-day timer is also exceeded, the user cannot allocate more disk blocks on that file system until his or her usage drops below the soft limit.