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Windows Thread, DFS on a school network - is it overkill? in Technical; I have had it suggested that Microsoft DFS on a school network (say one site 500 pupils, 80 staff) is ...
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    DFS on a school network - is it overkill?

    I have had it suggested that Microsoft DFS on a school network (say one site 500 pupils, 80 staff) is overkill - and could lead to more problems that it solves. Any opinions?

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    MacGeek's Avatar
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    What do you actually plan on hosting on the DFS?

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    We had DFS, and I suspect but maybe due to dubious setup (a lot of stuff was here) it caused problems. Ignoring the obvious problem of sometimes it takes about 15 minutes to replicate etc, so in theory a student could move from one room to another and there work not be there.

    Ours also started to delete new files instead of replicating them, well technically it replicated but it replicated the out of date server... These deleted files were though happily stored on both servers in the shadow copies, so there was a really odd thing happening, so yes we binned replication, more hassle then it was worth to us. That said he had been happy (if not slighly annoying when replication was slow) for atleast a year or so, and as I said the person who was here when it was setup can only be described as inept.

    Ours was home drives replicated.

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    I'd say that DFS is a step in the wrong direction now really - it is at too high a level, and leads to a bunch of weird issues (like those Achandler had, I had similar issues when I set it up at my last school). Instead, I'd say look at a lower level replication such as replication between 2 SANs.

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    We have been running DFS here for two years now. Each night our DFS is replicated to a backup server in a remote part of the school hence if we ever have a problem in our servers room that server can take over with just a few script changes. (its also DNS, DHCP and a Domain controller). We do it mainly for redundancy and backup but its never even blinked in two years and our school is similar size to yours. Some may say its overkill, but i found it really useful. The only problem we had was with mapping homedrives, they didnt work very well over DFS so we just mapped them normally, everything else works great.

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    zag
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    Total overkill....

    We just have a 2nd file server that I sync each half term.

    If the main one ever went down I would simply change the server name from "fileserver" to "fileserver2". Easy.

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    Yep, overkill indeed... volume shadow copies and a decent backup routine would be adequate IMO...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Netman View Post
    Yep, overkill indeed... volume shadow copies and a decent backup routine would be adequate IMO...
    Agreed. For a school with a limited budget this is the apt solution. If your a corp with tens of thousands of pounds of business an hour then go for more.

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    Guys, you should add DFS-R is what you're talking about here.

    DFS will allow you to have multiple file paths/servers served under one root path - transparent to the user. The parts are totally usable separately.

    Also, those of you who've had trouble, the 2008 DFSR version is *much* more reliable, and speedier - upgrading existing rep groups to use it is a pain, but worth it.

  10. Thanks to Domino from:

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    SYNACK's Avatar
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    No, it is totally not overkill, just don't use it for replication. If you change servers/where docs are stored you don't want to have to change all the links, scripts, mess with cnames and reg entries if you are not pulling the original server.

    Use DFS but only to provide a unchanging path to stuff so that it can be hot swapped in an instant as needed.

    DFS replication, no, use something else.

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    Using DFS-R here, 2008 version (two R2 servers). Only been running a few months, but has been pretty good so far. I built it from two homebuilt servers, so not too much investment, but it handles a very heavy load pretty happily. I went for it as a failsafe in case one server failed.

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    Seconding comments made earlier really - it is important to define the difference between DFS and DFS-R here...

    DFS - lots of shares on different servers accessed via one path e.g. \\server1\share1, \\server1\share2, \\server2\share4, \\server 3\share4 all become \\domain\network\share1, share2, share3, share4

    DFS-R - yes, multiple copies of each share across different servers. Earlier versions of DFS-R could be a real pig. SVR08 and 08 R2 have majorly improved this.

    Overall, Id recommend any setup uses DFS as it gives you the transparency. No users need to know what server the files are on, you can move servers easily, just change the paths etc. Can make life a lot easier.

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    Yes, sorry DFS-R is overkill. DFS is a cunning way of obscuring network paths that end users don't need to see. Set with the correct ACLs for all users one DFS can contain all the shared resources a user needs.

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    We have it running on Server 2008 R2 and it works like a charm – much improved over plain old 2008/2003.
    Main reason being is 2x SANS are expensive but 2x storage servers are much less so – especially when they in turn host multiple virtual machines.
    Our entire server strategy has in fact been based around the idea of replicating data using the tools in modern server operating systems and using a rock solid backup system.
    Even our virtual desktops run without a SAN

    However…..having said that we are about double in size to your school and have a very high expectation of up time (we run 24hr systems thanks to our remote access) – having things like DFS and replication allow us to take a server offline for windows updates for a hour or so while everyone just goes on using the replicated server – this way we get very little service downtime each year.

    So for some schools – yes it maybe over kill so long as you have a solid backup/recovery plan and your staff don’t expect things to work 24/7.

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    I had DFS on my server, completely pointless, it stopped working and caused a lot of problems. I wont be using it ever again !!

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