View DFS domain and roots in network browser

Dan-Aspitel
Dan-Aspitel used Ask the Experts™
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(names below are examples)

I have a DFS domain of hq.mycompany.com
Within the domain I have the roots: Finance and Helpdesk

1) Currently, when viewing 'Network' in file explorer the DFS domain HQ is not displayed.
2) When using file explorer and browsing to \\hq the DFS roots Finance and Helpdesk are not displayed.

A solution for #1 would be nice but a solution for #2 is most important to me.

Thanks!
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Distinguished Expert 2018

Commented:
I don't want to sound like I'm arguing semantics, but I genuinely want to make sure I understand your topology:

1) You have an Active Directory domain called hq.mydomain.com?

2) The NetBIOS-compatible name for your domain is "HQ"

3) There is a server with the File Services role installed and the DFS role services installed. Called (example) dfs-server.hq.mydomain.com

4) In this AD domain, you have created two domain DFS namespaces (current terminology)

5) You are running an OS that supports multiple DFS roots (Enterprise or Datacenter)

Is all this correct?

Author

Commented:
I no doubt am using the incorrect vocabulary.  Multiple roots must be incorrect; I think I mean multiple namespaces.

I have two servers running 2008R2 STD and both have File Services role installed.

AD domain is hq.mydomain.com

DFS namespaces are all under \\hq.mydomain.com\

Within \\hq.mydomain.com\ I have two namespaces created

So the namespaces are:
\\hq.mydomain.com\Finance
\\hq.mydomain.com\Helpdesk

What I CAN currently do is:
  - type in \\hq\Finance and I can see the shares under finance. (I can also enter the full hq.mycompany.com as well but hq works fine too)

What I CANNOT currently do is:
  - browse the network and see "hq" as a resource on the network.  
  - enter "\\hq" in file explorer and see "Finance" and "Helpdesk" as available folders. (I greatly want this ability.)

I am currently forced to enter, at the minimum, the UNC path of "\\hq\Finance" in order to see anything at all.

I hope that clarifies my question. Thanks.
Distinguished Expert 2018
Commented:
This is by design and you cannot accomplish what you want. Keep in mind that I do not necessarily say this is a *good* decision on MS's part, but the logic behind it is as follows:

------
You type \\hq (or \\hq.mydomain.com) and Explorer does an IP lookup using WINS or DNS and an IP address is returned. Which IP address(es) are returned can be viewed from the DNS Server MMC.

Explorer connects to the IP returned and gets a list of shares on that machine and displays  them.
------
In the above case, usually "hq.mydomain.com" points to a domain controller so step 2 enumerates all shares on the domain controller. Your DFS namespace is on another machine, thus if EXplorer showed a share there, it would actually be inaccurate, as the share is NOT on the doain controller.

All of this is predicated on the idea that lookups occur before enumeration. So design-wise, it was a lesser of two evils. Should any Explorer lookups to a domain name without a server name NOT be looked up and should special logic be put in place to actch these queries, making troubleshooting and standards meaningless? (standards folks would HATE this, as would many sysadmins) or should standards be followed, lookups occur furst, and only enumarte shares on the machine returend by the lookup...making finding namespaces harder and makign DFS less functional?

I'm not sure I know what the right answer is, but MS fell on the side of standards, which whether I agree with it or not, I at least understand. But, in short, you cannot do what you want unless you want to fudge it and make all of your DCs namespace servers as well, but ensure all targets point to other servers. It'd be kludgy, and I don't recommend it, but it'd work.

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kevinhsiehNetwork Engineer
Commented:
I believe that you would only be able to browse to \\hq if you configure every domain controller to host your namespaces.  Since "hq" is a NetBIOS workgroup name, it will not appear as a unique resource in the network browser. Only servers appear as resources. Network browsing for resources has been deprecated. It is no longer turned on by default. What I do is have a single DFS namespace \\domain.local\dfs and map every file based resource to that namespace. So, instead of maintaining two namespaces, you could have something like \\hq.mydomain.com\hq\Finance and \hq.mydomain.com\hq\Helpdesk all under the single DFS namespace \\hq.mydomain.com\hq .

Author

Commented:
Thank you for the explanation.  This limitation causes a problem with a good number of applications.  

For example, Eye-Fi wifi card management software only provides a browse dialog window to select the destination folder.  It is then impossible to use a DFS path.  Frustrating to say the least.
kevinhsiehNetwork Engineer

Commented:
BTW, you can enter \\domaincontrollerhostingDFS-namespace and see \HelpDesk and \Finance, but that isn't really what you want.
Network Engineer
Commented:
Can Eye-Fi use a mapped drive? Map a drive to the DFS root.

Author

Commented:
kevinhsieh -- I will be going forward with a single namespace to at least simply new share creation; rather than a new namespace for every new 'app' or department which was my current method.

kevinhsieh -- correct, I don't want to use \\domaincontrollerhostingDFS-namespace since I would then lose the redundancy feature of the DFS path.

kevinhsieh -- Eye-Fi app runs as a desktop app so I would think it could use a mapped drive.  Good idea.  I also have another app which has background services; I'd have to try it with it and possibly enable desktop access for the account.

Author

Commented:
It would be nice to be able to somehow 'publish'? the DFS namespace within AD.  

Somehow get the namespace to be seen as a virtual server.
kevinhsiehNetwork Engineer

Commented:
It looks like Eye-Fi is a current product. It's a shame that it won't accept a typed UNC path.
kevinhsiehNetwork Engineer

Commented:
You could have a stand alone namespace hosted by a Windows failover cluster...that would be published.

Author

Commented:
Thanks everyone.  I think I'll have to live with this limitation for now.  Hopefully the drive mapping will work.

And I have already asked in the Eye-Fi forum suggestions for the ability to manually enter a path.

Author

Commented:
It is a Microsoft Server limitation; limited work-around possible.
Most Valuable Expert 2011

Commented:
Mapped Drives are a disaster.  There is no need to go back to the age of Dinosaurs and Novell.

Can't you just create a UNC based Shortcuts to the shares?  UNC Shortcuts work through Browse Dialog boxes.

I take it that the two Locations are:
\\hq.mycompany.com\ Finance
\\hq.mycompany.com\Helpdesk

So create two Shortcuts.  
Rename them "Finance" and "Helpdesk" respectively.
Change their Icon to one of the Folder style icons just for cosmetic purposes.
Place the Shortcuts into the "All Users" Desktop on the machines that it is important to have this.  Then when opening a browse Dialog from the Application you just choose Desktop and the two locations will appear in the dialog and you can "browse through" them just like you could any folder
Most Valuable Expert 2011

Commented:
The fastest way to create the Shortcuts is to type the path into the Run Line.  When the location opens in Windows Explorer just drag the Icon from the Address Bar to the Desktop.

Author

Commented:
pwindell -- it is a bit more restrictive than that.  The dialog window only shows network machines and folders. Though for users other tasks I would agree with using shortcuts versus mapped drives.   Thanks.
Most Valuable Expert 2011

Commented:
Translation,...poorly designed Application.

I have run into similar with one of ours.  Luckily it remembers where you went last,...and,...after you "browse" to a location it shows you a normal editable TextBox with the path in it.  So I just browsed to any location I could just so I could get to the TextBox and then I backspaced out the path and pasted in the correct UNC path.  It remembers it after that point and you can run the App without opening the Browse Dialog.  Not saying you would be that lucky,..but it worked for me.

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