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Sweet dreams with Microsoft DFS

Jul 30, 20033 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsMicrosoft

* Microsoft Distributed File Service could help you catch up with your sleep

Windows Server 2003 includes the Distributed File Service which, when properly configured, can make an administrator’s job a lot easier. Interested? Read on.

The DFS technology allows you to logically group folders located on different servers by connecting them to one or more hierarchical namespaces. In other words, they appear to the user as a series of folders on a single server.

With DFS, users no longer need to know the actual physical location of files in order to access them. For example, if you have marketing files on multiple servers in a domain, you can use DFS to make it appear as though all of the marketing files are on a single server. This eliminates the need for users to go to multiple locations on the network to find the information they need. Even better, though, it allows you to change the location of the source folders as needs or circumstances dictate without ever having to tell the users or re-configure anything on your desktop or in their profiles.

Think what you might have to go through (without DFS) should a server become low on disk space. Get new hardware – including a bigger disk drive, install an operating system, transfer files, or restore from tape, spend a few days re-configuring desktops and profiles, answer the phone a lot (“Is it done yet?”), lose much sleep, consider flipping burgers as a good career move.

Users are to network administrators as patrons are to librarians – our job would be much easier if they’d just go away and we could put everything where it belonged and keep it there. Unfortunately, if they did go away so would our jobs. While this might seem like a good trade-off at 3:00 a.m. in the morning while you’re building yet another server, in the clear light of day you’ll hopefully find better ways to accomplish your goals.

Microsoft’s DFS is one way to avoid conflicts with users (a good thing) while ensuring that the network runs smoothly (a better thing). Should disaster strike, DFS can be even more useful in helping you get everything back to where the users want to find it, quickly and efficiently just like you promised your boss you could. That’s the best thing. Keeping the users happy helps keep your boss happy and that, in turn, can ensure your happiness too.

Visit Microsoft’s TechNet Web site and read the very informative white paper  called “Simplifying Infrastructure Complexity with Windows Distributed File System” ( Simplifying complexity is something we should always be striving to do.