In any medium to large network, users access data from multiple storage locations. Managing multiple shares for users can become a nightmare for network administrators. File servers could go down due to faults or for maintenance or they might be temporarily unavailable due to software upgrades or patch updates, etc. A solution to manage this is the Distributed File System or DFS, which is a part of Windows 2000 and 2003 Servers.
DFS provides a way to create logical views of directories and files, regardless of where those files physically reside on the network. It makes it easier to manage the distributed file server resources and can even add fault tolerance to these network storage resources. DFS provides name transparency to disparate server volumes and shares and provides a single hierarchical file system whose contents are distributed throughout the network.
|Applies to||Network managers|
|Usp||Create logical views across servers of shared directories and files|
In this article, we will see how to set up DFS on Windows Server 2003, and the information will equally apply to Windows 2000 Server environments. We will also see how to provide fault tolerance wherein if one file server goes down, a standby server takes over.
For the setup we will assume that you have a Windows 2003 DC (Domain Controller) and a Windows 2003 member server of the domain. The various file servers can be in different domains, but you need to have trust setup between the various domains.
Click Start, point to Programs, point to Administrative Tools, and then click Distributed File System.
Right-click Distributed File System in the left pane, and click New Root.
The New Root wizard appears, click Next.
Select Domain root on the Root Type screen and click Next.
Select the Domain name on the Host Domain screen, the domain name will be the Domain of the Windows 2003 server, in our example this is pcqtest1.net, and click Next.
On the Host server screen browse for the member server of the Windows 2003 domain and click Next. The member server will act as the Host Server for this DFS root.
On the next Root Name window, type the Root name for this DFS root, in our example we used dfsroot and click Next.
Now you have to specify the folder, which will be used as the Root Share, select any local folder you want to share and click Next.
Click Finish to create the DFS root.
After the Create New Root wizard has completed, you are ready to administer your DFS root.
At this point, you have an empty DFS root in Active Directory. For this share to be interesting to users, you need to publish non-local shares in the DFS namespace.'
Publish non-local shares
Right-click your DFS Root name and then click New Link.
Type in the new link name, we will call it Articles.
Select the path to the target (shared folder) by pressing the browse button.
Select the remote computer and its shared folder and click OK.
To provide fault tolerance you will need more Link targets for the new link created above.
To do that right click on the link created above and select New Target.
Now select the path to the target. Specify the file server share, which will work as the fault tolerant share and click OK.
A prompt will appear for you to configure replication for fault tolerance. Click Yes and Configure Replication Wizard will open up, click Next.
Select one target share as the Initial master whose contents will be replicated to other target shares and click Next.
Select the replication topology on the Next screen and click Finish to close the Wizard.
The Replication service will now replicate the contents of the Initial master to other target shares.
This may take some time depending upon the amount of data and link speed.
Now you are done with defining your DFS shares and targets and it is time to test the setup.
Testing the DFS setup
Any user of Windows 2000 or XP logged on to your domain can now access the fault tolerant DFS. The share can be accessed by typing in the Run window \\\\pcqtest1\\dfsroot
He can also map the DFS share as a network drive by running the command.
Net Use driveletter: \\\\Domain Name\\DFS root name
In our example it will become
Net Use J: \\\\pcqtest1\\dfsroot
This will map the J: drive to your DFS root. In the DFS root share you will find the share called Articles, which you created above. Right click on it and select Properties. Go to the DFS tab, from here you can see the different targets referred by this link. Only one out of these is set active.
In the case of the active link target going down, users will be automatically connected to the other target shares in the list.
The replication service takes care of replicating the files when the Initial master comes back live.
With this DFS setup you have managed to collect various shares on your network under a single shared directory hierarchy and with replication services provided by DFS you can also have fault tolerance of important shares on your network.