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Distributed File System overview

Updated: January 21, 2005

Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2

Distributed File System overview

With Distributed File System (DFS), system administrators can make it easy for users to access and manage files that are physically distributed across a network. With DFS, you can make files distributed across multiple servers appear to users as if they reside in one place on the network. Users no longer need to know and specify the actual physical location of files in order to access them.

For example, if you have marketing material scattered across multiple servers in a domain, you can use DFS to make it appear as though all of the material resides on a single server. This eliminates the need for users to go to multiple locations on the network to find the information they need.

Reasons for using DFS

You should consider implementing DFS if:

  • You expect to add file servers or modify file locations.

  • Users who access targets are distributed across a site or sites.

  • Most users require access to multiple targets.

  • Server load balancing could be improved by redistributing targets.

  • Users require uninterrupted access to targets.

  • Your organization has Web sites for either internal or external use.

DFS types

You can implement a distributed file system in either of two ways, either as a stand-alone root distributed file system, or as a domain distributed file system.

Accessing DFS targets from other computers

In addition to the server-based DFS component of the Windows Server 2003 family, there is a client-based DFS component. The DFS client caches a referral to a DFS root or a DFS link for a specific length of time, defined by the administrator.

The DFS client component runs on a number of different Windows platforms. For information on DFS client versions and their associated platforms, see Platform compatibility.

For more information, see Understanding Distributed File System and Using Distributed File System.

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