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File Services Technologies

Updated: March 28, 2003

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

File services are the underlying technologies that enable file servers to share data within an organization. File servers running basic services, such as folder sharing and permissions, are easy to set up, but many organizations require a higher level of manageability, scalability, and availability for their file servers. The Microsoft Windows Server 2003 operating system provides files services such as Distributed File System (DFS), disk quotas, File Replication Service (FRS), and Shadow Copies for Shared Folders to help organizations meet these needs.

For information about File and Storage Services in Windows Server 2012, see File and Storage Services Overview. For information about File Services in Windows Server 2008 R2, see File Services for Windows Server 2008 R2.

File Services Components

File Services technologies include the following components.


A DFS namespace links together shared folders on different servers to create a hierarchical structure that behaves like a single high-capacity hard disk. Users can navigate the namespace without having to know the physical server names or shared folders that host the data. DFS also provides increased availability, storage scalability, load sharing, and simplified maintenance.

Disk Quotas

Windows Server 2003 provides disk quota functionality that tracks quotas on a per-user, per-volume basis. After you enable the warning level and limit, they apply to all users who own files stored on the volume. Any user who creates a new file is automatically assigned the current warning level and limit.


FRS is a multimaster replication service used to replicate files and folders in the SYSVOL shared folder on domain controllers and in DFS shared folders. FRS works by detecting changes to file and folders in a replica set, and then replicating those changes to other replica members, which are connected in a replication topology. Because FRS is a multimaster replication service, any member of a replica set can generate changes. In addition, FRS can resolve file and folder conflicts to make data consistent among the replica members.

Shadow Copies for Shared Folders

Shadow Copies for Shared Folders provides point-in-time copies of files that are located on file servers. With Shadow Copies for Shared Folders, users can quickly recover deleted or changed files stored on the network without administrator assistance, increasing productivity and reducing administrative costs.

File Services Scenarios

The following sections describe the scenarios in which organizations deploy file services in Windows Server 2003.


DFS is used in organizations that want to achieve the following goals:

  • Provide an intuitive way for users to access multiple file servers throughout the organization.

  • Make data on multiple file servers appear as though it were available on a single file server.

  • Make data available in multiple sites so that users in each site use fast, inexpensive bandwidth to access the data.

  • Reduce delays that occur when users access heavily used shared folders.

  • Provide fault-tolerant access to shared folders.

  • Consolidate file servers or migrate data without affecting how users locate data.

Disk Quotas

Disk quotas are used in organizations that want to achieve the following goals:

  • Limit the amount of data that users can store on a particular volume.

  • Monitor how much disk space each user is using.


FRS is used in organizations that want to achieve the following goals:

  • Ensure data availability if a file server fails or is taken offline for maintenance.

  • Make data available in multiple sites to provide inexpensive access to users within each site.

Shadow Copies for Shared Folders

Shadow Copies for Shared Folders is used in organizations that want to achieve the following goals:

  • Provide access to previous versions of files on the file server.

  • Reduce the cost associated with restoring files for users.

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