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Distributed File System Question

Posted on 2015-01-20
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Last Modified: 2015-01-27
Hello EE,

We have a DFS server and I am wondering as I understand it offers logical name space for multiple targets and replication, but does it do anything else?  I am new and we have the following:

SAN NTFS at Corporate with a few remote branch offices all accessing the SAN for file server data.
1. We have 1 SAN
2. We have a login script that points to
    \\Domain\DFS\Files
    \\Domain\DFS\Files\Marketing
    \\Domain\DFS\Files\Sales
    \\Domain\DFS\Files\Users
3. No replication with the 1 server

Am I missing something in thinking that there really isn't a need for DFS as I could just point our Login script to \\ip of SAN\Files\Marketing, etc since it's all going to one location?
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Question by:operationsIT
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by:giltjr
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Not 100% sure but:

\\Domain\DFS\Files

Breaks down as:

"Domain" = name of the server I want to connect to
"DFS" = Name of share on above server
"Files" = Folder/Directory name under share name above

  \\Domain\DFS\Files\Marketing

Breaks down the same, but with one additional folder/directory level of "Marketing".

If you wanted to use the IP address it would be:

\\x.x.x.x\DFS\Files
\\x.x.x.x\DFS\Files\Marketing

And so on.  Here "DFS" does not mean use "Distributed File System" it just happens to be the name of a share on a server.
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by:operationsIT
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I understand if I do IP and change server I'd need to keep IP or change Logon Scripts so DFS had it's benefits, but other than that I am struggling to see what it is doing for me now with (DFS being namespace):

   \\Domain\DFS\Files
     \\Domain\DFS\Files\Marketing
     \\Domain\DFS\Files\Sales
     \\Domain\DFS\Files\Users

v.s.
   \\Server\Files
     \\Server\Files\Marketing
     \\Server\Files\Sales
     \\Server\Files\Users

Or is there something it offering I'm missing?
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by:giltjr
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Since I don't know exactly how your network setup I have to go by how it is defined to work.

When you access a share you should have:

     \\host\\sharename\folder

Where:

host is the name of host that the share is on
sharename is the name of the share on the host
folder is the name of the folder under the share

Folder is optional and you have have multiple levels of folders, so you could have:

     \\host\sharename\folder1\folder2

If you ping "domain"  and ping "server" do you get back the same IP address?

If I were to wager a guess "domain" and "server" most likely refers to the same host and on that host it has two shares, DFS and Files.  

The other possibility is that "server" has a share called "files" that is actually mapped to host "domain"  and the share DFS.
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by:operationsIT
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There is a DFS server that has a namespace \\domain\dfs

If I go to this browse, I see my files folder, which underneath it I see marketing, sales, etc.
I could browse to IP of the server\files and see the same thing.

I can go on the DFS server and see the namespace as \\domain\dfs and it points to target \\server\files
I am asking if there is a benefit to having DFS with 1 file server allowing me to browse to \\domain\dfs to see files directory v.s. just going to IP\files share?
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by:giltjr
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When you say \\server\files, is "server" a name or an IP address?

If it is an IP address, is that the IP address of the host called "domain" in the \\domain reference?
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by:operationsIT
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Server could be IP of server or DNS name for the server.

No we use DFS which repoints the information to the \\Server\files\ reference.

Given we have one file server I'm trying to justify having DFS and if it's offering anything for me.
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giltjr earned 500 total points
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I think you may need to read:

https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc782417%28v=ws.10%29.aspx

There are major advantages when using DFS.  With a single server, there is no advantage today, but it allows you to go to an environment where you have multiple and backup servers with NO changes to the users.

In other words, it may not be helping you today, but it is not hurting you either.  In the future, you could add server, move server, do other things and users would never know.
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by:operationsIT
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Thank you Giltjr that is what I was gathering from all the articles I've been reading.  That one you provided was great.  The only thing I heard, but haven't found in any research material is that even with single server we can have files cache locally for users so that may be a benefit (offline cache).  Is that a feature of DFS?
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by:operationsIT
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Great help!
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by:giltjr
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Just saw that I missed your question about DFS and caching.  I will have to double check, but I'm pretty sure that offline files and caching are two different thing.

Offline files have nothing to do with DFS, that is a Windows OS thing.

I believe that DFS caching requires multiple servers and that is where the DFS server is caching files that actually reside on a different server.
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