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Windows Thread, DFS on a school network - is it overkill? in Technical; DFS-R mucks up VSS as well, at least on 2k3. DFS itself, though, we use and is brilliant - apart ...
  1. #16

    sonofsanta's Avatar
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    DFS-R mucks up VSS as well, at least on 2k3.

    DFS itself, though, we use and is brilliant - apart from getting both file servers showing up under a single UNC path (to the point where I often forget which server stuff is on) we have a slower, fatter server which replicates everything nightly via robocopy. If anything ever goes wrong with a main file server, we can quickly switch the targets in DFS and apart from running a bit slower, no-one really notices that one of our main file servers is down.

    So DFS yes, DFS-R, not unless you enjoy mental anguish.

  2. #17


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    We use DFS and (to a more limited extent) DFS-R. It works well (2008R2 and 2003 mixed, until I retire a server).

    Vital mostly read-only stuff is replicated, but everything is accessible under the DFS Root, which means write-once config files and trivial server swaps.

    But like most things, if you don't set it up correctly it'll perform like a chocolate teapot. RTFM isn't enough, you need to go look through the best practise guides as well, and here's: Browse by Tags - Ask the Directory Services Team - Site Home - TechNet Blogs a good start.

    Given that an installed-from-scratch 2008 domain is using DFS-R for hosting SYSVOL, it's not like it doesn't work. (Yes, FRS is in maintenance mode and you really need to get off it - The Case for Migrating SYSVOL to DFSR - Ask the Directory Services Team - Site Home - TechNet Blogs).

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    I have 2 x 2008R2 servers that I use DFS on to ensure (as has been previously stated) that if I need to make a move then the move is transparent to the user end of things and it limits down the number of things I need to change to get things back up and running (theoretically - I've not got around to just turning off the PDC yet to) should the PDC fall over ..

    I tried to use it on 2003 R2 when I had it previously but it was quite hideous, however 2008 R2 does seem a lot more stable. If you have more than one server it's useful as you just have the \\domain.local\ style address over \\server1 \\server2 etc style address.

    All in all, I find it works well, but only on 2008 R2 not 2003 R2.

  4. #19

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    I was thinking about DFS for Start Menu redirection at least so they could use the local apps if the server with the Start Menu share goes down.

    Not sure if it would be a good idea, I did initially try and redirect to the NETLOGON folder but something happened after a server issue and everyone lost the Start Menu so I moved it to a Read Only share on another server.

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    2008 R2 setup here with Replication, although I some what agree on Overkilll to me that school specific. We simply can not hide with our Home drives here and we have suffered failure servers which had to be sorted out/replaced. We had to resort to the backup which sadly failed on the last one (meaning we lost a days worth of work). This actually caused a lot of problems for Staff who updated important documents and students who actually finished important course work ready for exams.

    So we had SLT turn around and say how do we change that problem, with such a demand for the data now... we had no choice but to implement something. So we resorted to replication which actually works with no issues so far and we use our second server to run the daily backup. We also do daily restorations on that box and the data is replicated almost insantly.

    Some may say Overkill but for us, that word changes very quickly to "Much Needed". Our previous home drive server was a pile of..... (was purchased against my advice because we got more space out of it and was cheaper). As a result of that failure (for about the 4th time as well) they told me to get some thing in quick which did the job and I had little time to research implementing replication.


    At the end of the day it works, works better then before, it doesnt seem slow what so ever and now we have the ability to switch between one server and the other in the event of a critical failure. Although some will say "other solutions" or "Overkill" what we have had to go through wouldnt at all seem like overkill.

    Strangely enough that word pops up a lot, our previous Home server was classed as overkill 4 years later that server is on its way out. Our new Exchange server was classed as overkill yet it still is using about 75% of its memory and the HD space required has gone through the roof since migrating from 2003 - 2010. So will always be school specific.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jhothersall View Post
    I had DFS on my server, completely pointless, it stopped working and caused a lot of problems. I wont be using it ever again !!
    We use DFS for all our staff shared folders, one network drive/DFS Root with DFS links to 4 different servers, very useful and simple.

    Haven't used replication part of DFS (then call FRS) for a while (yes it broke but the servers were W2K and apparently DFS is more reliable with 2008 R2). We actually used it for roaming profiles to speed up logins (4 sites and one replica per site).

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    It's also useful if you are installing software via active directory. You can have a replica of your MSIs on a couple of servers and when an IT suite switches on and 30 computers try to access the same file, it's automatically distributed.
    I'd say it's best for read rather than write. Not sure why you'd want to use it on home drives, except to provide backup/instant fall-over.

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    Quote Originally Posted by eean View Post
    It's also useful if you are installing software via active directory. You can have a replica of your MSIs on a couple of servers and when an IT suite switches on and 30 computers try to access the same file, it's automatically distributed.
    I'd say it's best for read rather than write. Not sure why you'd want to use it on home drives, except to provide backup/instant fall-over.
    My guess is just as you said, though I wouldn't call it backup, resiliance is a better term to use (analogy being multiple drives in RAID are there for resiliance rather than backup).

    There could be another reason, if the school is split across >1 sites with slow inter-site connectivity, having a DFS replica at each site would allow the home drive to automatically connect to the DFS replica on the local LAN (rather than going over the slow WAN link). They could then logon at any other site and continue working (as long as the changes to files replicate in the time it takes for them to get over there and logon).

    One problem with DFS replicas is that opening a file from one replica doesn't lock it on the others. Should be OK for home drives (if the user doesn't logon at more than one site at the same time), but is no good for shared folders.

    I agree that replication works best when the replica is meant as a read-only copy.

    Regards,

    Bruce.

  9. #24

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    We use DFS-R for replicating just about everything between our two main 2003 R2 servers: home drives, shared drives (read-only and write). Then DFS to provide links that direct each client to one or other server. We started using this setup with FRS, which did not work well at all with this volume of files. However I have had very few problems with DFS. There is sometimes a short delay before replication occurs, but it rarely causes an issue. There was a confusing issue recently with videos produced by powerpoint not being replicated as they were marked as temporary files. But most of the time I can forget it's there.

    The plan is redundancy to allow us to manage for a significant time after a complete server failure. It was used instead of RAID, which I think was a mistake. It has been useful several times but never really tested for an extended period. The fail-over is not as good as I would like because when a server is down a client will only fall back to the other after a significant timeout.

    I also use DFS-R to provide robust copying of backups from outlying servers to a central server to be written to the backup disks.
    Last edited by Jollity; 15th April 2012 at 08:54 PM.

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