Does your organization have virtual files distributed across different locations? Do you need to organize them together into a logical tree? Well, you can do it all with Microsoft’s Distributed File System, or Microsoft DFS, for short. Let’s take a deep dive into this service.
Microsoft DFS is a mechanism that allows you to create a logical view of folders and files, regardless of where they are physically located on the network. With this service, you have a single point of reference for all the resources within your organization.
Broadly speaking, DFS consists of two components, namely:
You can use these components separately or together, it just depends on your requirements.
The namespace allows administrators to group folders located across areas by connecting them to one or more DFS namespaces. In addition, the administrator can decide which shared folders should be present in a namespace, the hierarchical appearance of these folders, and how these shared folders should be displayed in the namespace.
The obvious advantage is easy visibility. When you want to view a shared folder, you simply navigate through the namespace. It simply looks like the folder is sitting on a single hard disk with a ton of capacity. You don’t have to know the complexity behind the folders’ location and their access.
Besides this easy visibility, DFS also comes with fault tolerance and load sharing capabilities, thereby making it essential for every organization.
The replication component replicates your files across different locations for greater redundancy. It does this by using advanced algorithms to reduce bandwidth usage and time.
Before going on to how you can use them, it is important to know how DFS works and the terms associated with it.
Before we go into the working, let’s get familiar with a few terms associated with it.
Now that you understand these terms, let’s get a brief overview of how Microsoft DFS works.
The core component of the DFS architecture is Dfssvc.exe, and it runs on both root servers and domain controllers. The main function of this core component is to manage namespace and to communicate with the DFS driver, Dfs.sys.
It is a complex process that involves many other processes and interactions between root servers and clients. Before going further, it is important to understand the different types of namespaces, as DFS works differently for different namespaces.
There are two kinds of namespaces, and they are domain-based DFS namespace and stand-alone DFS namespace.
This namespace has its configuration information stored in Active Directory, so the path to access the root link starts with the domain name. This namespace can have multiple root targets, through which it implements fault tolerance and load sharing.
For example, if the domain name is www.johnsmith.com, your root link will be "\\johnsmith.com\Public"
In a stand-alone DFS namespace, the configuration information is stored locally in the registry of the root server. To access the root, you have to start with the root server name.
Since the DFS root has only one root server, it is not fault-tolerant. If the DFS root is down, the entire system becomes inaccessible.
For example, the path is "\\ServerName\Sharedfoldername."
A workaround to this drawback is to create stand-alone DFS namespaces on server clusters.
Now, let’s see how Microsoft DFS works in both these namespaces.
Here is a simplified look into how DFS works in stand-alone namespaces.
DFS works differently in domain-based namespaces.
Thus, this is how DFS works for different namespaces.
Next, we’ll move on to the replication component.
Microsoft DFS replication service replaces the File Replication Service (FRS) introduced in Windows 2000. It is based on a replication algorithm called remote differential compression, or RDC, for short. This algorithm detects additions, deletions, and changes in data arrangement within files, and replicates only those data blocks that are changed.
Here’s a look into some of the features of DFS replication.
These above features show how useful DFS replication is, especially when you have multiple copies spread across different locations.
So, now that we know how DFS and its components work, let’s see how it will help you.
Your organization gets enormous benefits from using Microsoft DFS. Here’s a look at some of them.
From the above discussion, it is clear that Microsoft DFS will be a great addition to your organization. Are you ready to leverage its benefits?
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