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Windows Thread, Using DFS for student files - W2k3 in Technical; Hello Am planning a network redesign in the summer hols, basically the school has always been running three domains with ...
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    Question Using DFS for student files - W2k3

    Hello

    Am planning a network redesign in the summer hols, basically the school has always been running three domains with a single domain controller for each domain, apparently they didn't want kids logging in using staff accounts so a separate domain was set-up to do that.

    But anyways, I plan to do away with that model and have a single domain powered by two domain controllers, am just wondering whether it's possible or if anyone has decided to use DFS to load balance the request for work over two servers.

    Basically from my understanding of DFS (yet to set-up one) I can have a the student data on both servers and then have DFS sync data over at set intervals, so when a student logs on and requests their files it will automatically choose the best server to obtain the data from, therefore load balancing. Am I correct in thinking this?

    I plan to just use folder redirection alone next year instead of having a roaming profile as well, in the hope to speed up logging on, so am just after speed to access files and of course should a domain controller go down the students can still access their work from the remaining DC.

    So if anyone has any views on this whether it's possible or am using DFS incorrectly..

    Thanks

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    DFSR (Server 2003 R2 or Server 2008) will do fairly quick replication; DFS (Server 2003/2000) won't and you will have major nightmares of people losing work!

    DFSR isn't really designed for load balancing (but you can do network load balancing to a pair of servers running DFSR) - it allows you to do things like having \\<domain>\<share> rather than \\<server>\<share> and makes life easy when you add remove servers. It's also good when you're multi-site because you use the same share name at each site and DFS automagically works out which is your nearest server.

    Rather than using DFS, you might want to have a process which regularly synchronises your two servers (eg use robocopy) - this can give you an almost live backup server so if your main server is going to be down for any length of time you just redirect the users to the new server (and this is a good use for DFS - you put home folders at \\domain\home\username and tell DFS that the "home" share is on server1. If server1 fails then you tell DFS that actually that share is on server2 - next time clients connect they get the new server)

    Folder redirection is good - redirect desktop, application data and my documents and then very little goes in the roaming profile so log on times are good but you get full roamability.

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    eean's Avatar
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    Hmmm... Not really sure that doing DFS for pupil data is really a good idea.
    Think about it.
    Pupils A and B have data on server 1, which is also replicated onto server 2. For reading, it's fine. Pupil A would read from server 1, whilst Pupil B from server 2. As soon as pupil A writes, he is not only creating traffic from the client to server 1 but also from server 1 to server 2.

    You would need instant syncronsiation because if a child loggs onto a computer, does some work, gets told off and told to move to another computer (which may connect the other server) they need to be able to access their work. As soon as that happens you get data consistency problems... oh, how quickly it all goes wrong!

    A far simpler way/reliable way of load balancing is to put the first half of the alphabet on server 1 and the other half on server 2.

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    [/QUOTE] A far simpler way/reliable way of load balancing is to put the first half of the alphabet on server 1 and the other half on server 2.[/QUOTE]

    Yes but would you call that load balancing because you effectively will have a set of pupils on one server and the other set on another.

    I not sure I understand how that can be load balanced...

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    Quote Originally Posted by ranj View Post
    Yes but would you call that load balancing because you effectively will have a set of pupils on one server and the other set on another.

    I not sure I understand how that can be load balanced...
    Because, on average, half of the users will be accessing one server and half of the users will be accessing the other. Therefore, the load will be balanced between the 2 servers. This wouldn't work if, for some reason, your school grouped children by surname as you might have a class all logging onto one server.

    IIRC, DFS load balancing, when drive is mapped, it will connect to either server 1 or server 2 alternately... nothing snazzier than that, so that you will have roughly half of the users on each server.

    The only advantage of DFS in your situation is that if one server failed, the computer would (eventually) automatically connect to the other. However, there are probably better ways of dealing with server failure if you want fault tollerance.

    When we did it (before the days of DFS), I think, we put surnames A-J on one and K-Z on the other because that was roughly half.

    In reality, unless you have large profiles, or have users writing massive video files, most pupil traffic is likely to be negligible.

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    For what it's worth I've implimented a DFSR system for staff and pupil data as well as application data (eg: sherston save folders, etc..)

    It's very much a try it and see type deal with Gb connections between the servers and the client PC's are laptops in the main so any replication activity shouldn't swamp the lan.

    If it doesn't work out I can simply stop the replication and remove whichever server is slowest but it does make it easy to move things to a new server and then take the original offline for maintenance without anyone noticing. Useful in itself.

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    Quote Originally Posted by contink View Post
    It's very much a try it and see type deal with Gb connections between the servers and the client PC's are laptops in the main so any replication activity shouldn't swamp the lan.
    You are still creating 3x the drive activity
    1 when you originally write the file (as you would anyway)
    1 when the first server reads the file again to send it to the second server
    1 when the second server writes the file.

    Absolutely, there would be an advantage reading program files where very little writing is going on but lots of reading. But I can't see how any reading performance increase wouldn't be out weighed by extra writing and network traffic.
    In your setup, the wireless is going to be the weak link, so you are unlikely to notice either way.

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    Let me just add in my 2 pence here...

    We currently DON'T use DFSR (2003 R2) for staff DATA, but we do use it for Profiles. Aside from our initial configuration woes (when we didn't have R2) - it's been solid.

    It's a DFSR tree shared across 4 DCs - the updates are pretty much instant and we've rarely - if ever had huge problems or issues with DFSR.

    Something to think about though... if you are going to use it on student data and you plan to use file screening or quotas... be sure to set the DFSR root so that it's NOT inside the student folder.

    E.g.

    D:\Students\UserName - is where they live usually for example.
    If you wanted DFSR to succesfully replicate this (and not get throttled by your quotas or filescreens) you'd need to modify it to this:

    D:\DFS-Students\Students\UserName

    Point DFSR at the 'DFS-Students' folder, so that the DFSRPrivate folder is created outside of any quotas or filescreens and doesn't get hammered.

    You could of course simply exempt it from quotas and filescreens if you are using R2 or 2008 - but some quota apps don't easily allow exceptions - or don't work as expected.

    HTH,

    Az

  9. 2 Thanks to azrael78:

    contink (25th June 2008), Michael_84 (25th June 2008)

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    Thanks for all the replies
    We run Win2k3 R2, I've been reading some the documentation by Microsoft to gain some knowledge about DFSR, am going to hopefully set up a test rig tomorrow and start throwing some random data in and see how it replicates.

    @azrael78 thanks for that tip! Just saved me some time, pretty sure I would of walked into that one

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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael_84 View Post
    Thanks for all the replies
    We run Win2k3 R2, I've been reading some the documentation by Microsoft to gain some knowledge about DFSR, am going to hopefully set up a test rig tomorrow and start throwing some random data in and see how it replicates.

    @azrael78 thanks for that tip! Just saved me some time, pretty sure I would of walked into that one
    No problem - if you find anything a little odd going on (which you shouldn't) - DFSR diagnostics (inside the DFS Management MMC) are invaluable for pointing out where a fault lies (in terms of servers) and how you might go about resolving it - but just don't rely on it too heavily as if DFSR is seriously bodged, then the diagnostics don't work either... hurrah!

    Plus... the old favourite... Event Viewer is your friend - even if it's wonderfully vague at times

    Suggest you run the diagnostics over each replication set at the end of each term (before half term starts - so you got some headway to restart things and such) - it should all keep reading as 'good/happy' or whatever other word they use to mean it works. We've rarely had any issues here

    Az

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