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DFS and redundency

Posted on 2011-05-06
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Last Modified: 2012-05-11
I need to configure two 2008 R2 file servers with complete redundancy. That means
1. Both servers (server1 and server2) have a separate copy of all the files.
2. If either one of the two servers fail, users will have uninterrupted service and ever know about the failure
3. Users can access files on both servers using the same share name \\fileshareserver

Can DFS be used for this? I had read something about if one of the servers was hosting the root or something similar that that server went down no files were available even if the other server was up.
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Question by:Julian123
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by:Vinchenzo-the-Second
ID: 35704788
DFS is your solution.  I hope this helps:
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc732863(WS.10).aspx
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by:kevinhsieh
ID: 35709497
This is reslly tricky with DFS if both servers are in the same AD site because DFS doesn't have a distributed locking system. In normal DFS namespace situation, users will connect to both servers and write to files on both servers. Files that are being opened on both servers will get overwritten by the last copy of the file that is saved. The only safe way to use DFS is to disable the DFS links to all but one server for any files that may be written to by multiple users. A better solution from a technical standpoint is to use Windows failover clustering. The downside is that you need copies of Windows Enterprise and shared storage.

What I do is I have domain based DFS namespace (which I recommend with even a single server environment) along with DFS replication, but only a single DFS target is available at any given time for writeable files so that I am sure that file locking is in use and that file changes don't get lost when reconciling changes.  
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by:ColinAtlas
ID: 35710239
Darn, sory I forgot.  Can I repost using the link tool?
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by:Julian123
ID: 35756717
kevinhsieh,

Thanks for your feedback, I appreciate it. My understanding from what you've written above is that if I have 2 servers with replicated file data via DFS in the same site, there's no way to control which server a user will connect to, is that correct? My goal here would be to have users always connect to primary server and only use the secondary if for some reason the primary is unavailable.

If my understanding is correct, I see how this could cause an issue because two people could open fileA at the same time and if they happen to be opening it on different servers, they could both save the changes and there would be a collision.

Do you have any links to articles or feedback on how I can configure having only a single DFS target available at any given time? I'm assuming that if the primary server fails, I can make a configuration change because as the secondary server to become the DFS target.

Thanks again for your help.

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by:Julian123
ID: 35756773
Researching the same question mentioned above, I also found this link that seems to indicate that I can prioritize DFS servers in a given active directory site: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb524795(VS.85).aspx

Please let me know if I'm just misunderstanding.
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by:Vinchenzo-the-Second
ID: 35756886
You can prioritise, you can set it to hit the other server if the primary one unavailable
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by:kevinhsieh
ID: 35756944
You can't prioritize between servers in the same site because they would have the same site cost. You only safe bet is to disable the DFS link to the secondary server. It's very easy to do in the UI.
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Julian123 earned 0 total points
ID: 35774805
Thanks. This post seems to indicate that you can set the priority for an individual target:
http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/winserverfiles/thread/323ada54-b7a0-4a2c-b65a-a2b77be58957.

This article (Free registration required unfortunately) http://searchwindowsserver.techtarget.com/tip/Distributed-File-System-feature-prioritizes-target-servers-in-Active-Directory seems to indicate the same thing. According to the article "Microsoft put target prioritization in SP1 to allow administrators to prioritize targets both in and out of a client's site. For example, you can now modify the normal referral ordering for out-of-site namespace servers or for servers that exist in a single site."

Please understand I'm not trying to argue with you, I'm just trying to make sense of different sources of information. Thanks for helping me sort it out.

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by:kevinhsieh
ID: 35775059
I have always used site costing. I guess Microsoft put some more functionality in and I missed it. That said, I have had Windows clients connect to a DFS target in a remote site instead of the local site, so I don't trust DFS to ensure that all writes happen on only a single server. So, it seems like you have the choice of doing a manual or automatic failover to the secondary file server. For my environment, the manual failover is fast enough and it's less likely to cause problems during normal operations.
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by:kevinhsieh
ID: 35779314
I feel that Julian123 should divide points among the experts as appropriate. I believe useful help was given.
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by:South Mod
ID: 35814102
All,
 
Following an 'Objection' by kevinhsieh (at http://www.experts-exchange.com/Q_27043875.html) to the intended closure of this question, it has been reviewed by at least one Moderator and is being closed as recommended by the Expert.
 
At this point I am going to re-start the auto-close procedure.
 
Thank you,
 
SouthMod
Community Support Moderator
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