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Can Windows 2008 DFS Namespace support Windows 2003 File Server

Posted on 2011-09-21
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Hi,

We have an environment whereby I have a Windows 2003 R2 File Server and its running out of space. We're looking to purchase a new server which will run Windows 2008 R2 to act as a second file server.

So the plan is to use the new Win2K8 File Server as an extension to the existing Win2K3 File Server. Therefore we would like to migrate some data from the existing Win2K3 File Server over to the Win2K8 file server but we would like to minimize any configuration which we need to modify on client PCs.

Therefore, we would like to introduce Window 2008 DFS Namespace. I've done some checking but I wasn't able to find the answer to my question which is: If we deploy a Windows 2008 DFS namespace, will I be able to add and manage a Windows 2003 File Server within this namespace? Or will I have to downgrade the DFS to Windows 2003 and run without the new functionalities which Windows 2008 DFS offers.

Any input would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance.
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Question by:pepelepew8
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by:Rant32
ID: 36574628
I think this is the article you're looking for:
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc753479%28WS.10%29.aspx

See the section called "Windows Server 2008 mode domain-based namespaces".

Your domain model must be Windows 2008, and the namespace servers must be running 2008 as well. There are no requirements as to the servers hosting the DFS links, and as far as I know, Windows 2003 can fully participate in 2008 DFS namespaces.
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by:pepelepew8
ID: 36574686
Hi Rant32,

Thanks for your prompt response.

I have looked at this article before and I believe this only describes the Windows 2008 mode domain-based namespace.

So can we not run the DFS on other modes? Windows 2000/2003 server mode? If so, what are the features which we would lose out?

Also would I be able to run it as a stand-alone mode?

That article doesn't really describe all the possible configurations which we could run Windows 2008 DFS namespace I think.
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Rant32 earned 500 total points
ID: 36576072
I do not recommend a stand-alone namespace, because then the entry point for clients is the server name. If I understand you correctly, that's not what you want. You want DFS to be accessible using the NetBIOS or DNS domain name so you can transparently migrate stuff off the old server.
Source: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc770287%28WS.10%29.aspx

Yes, you can run the namespace in Windows 2000 Server mode (for 2000/2003). This is your only option if your domain level is 2003.  The article I previously linked to is all about the differences between Windows 2000 Server mode and 2008 mode, so that's everything you'll not get when you create a "legacy" DFS namespace.

Don't confuse the actual shares and fileservers with the mode of the namespace. File servers are not managed through the DFS namespace. The namespace is just a single object in AD that provides consolidation and replication, regardless of the file servers that host the contents of the DFS links. To benefit from these features on your DFS links (ABE, cluster support, search, etc), the namespace needs to be hosted on 2008 server in a 2008 domain level. And if you do, your 2003 file server will co-operate just fine.

Any file share that is accessible using a UNC path can be a DFS target, regardless of the DFS mode. This is not restricted to Windows, either.
Source: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc753448%28WS.10%29.aspx

Also, if you choose a 2000 mode DFS now, it is relatively easy to migrate to 2008 mode if/when you've upgrade domain controllers: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc753875%28WS.10%29.aspx

Note how the article mentions nothing about upgrading the OS on the actual file servers.
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