How to Maintain Business Operation Data with Distributed File System

​Data and information are the vital part for daily business operation. Thus as an IT administrator in a cooperate company, the main responsibility should be circling around about how to store and preserved data to maintain business operation.

In a cooperate environment, there might be few file servers had been implemented in order to maintain data / information access for end users. As an example, there might be a file server that store financial data and another server to store daily operation data. While the company is increasing their operation size, there will be more file servers to be implement in order to store more information.

This kind of phenomena might decrease the productivity of end users because they might need to access different servers if they need to access information from different department (Eg: finance and sales). In order to boost productivity of daily operation, distributed file system (DFS) can be implement.

DFS is one of the roles is inside file server resource manager feature in Windows Server 2012 R2. It provides the ability to group shares on multiple servers logically and provides users the transparency experience that link multiple shares folders into a single hierarchical namespace. It organizes shared resources on a network in a treelike structure.

There are 2 different major parts for DFS which are DFS Namespace and DFS Replication. Both of these parts does not rely on each other but it works great to combine both function.

DFS namespace is the virtual name that provide user a unified access to the shared folder. It can be domain based namespace or standalone namespace. As the name given, domain based namespace will require Active Directory come in place. An example of domain based namespace is \srkk.localshares which it will utilized Active Directory domain name as a unified access name for users. As for standalone namespace, it will use the installed server name as the access point (\rkkservershares).  DFS namespace can be install in any servers inside your environment without installing the replication roles.

DFS replication is the role that keep all members in the replication group in sync. DFS Replication uses a compression algorithm known as remote differential compression (RDC). RDC detects changes to the data in a file, and it enables DFS Replication to replicate only the changed file blocks instead of the entire file.


Steps to configure DFSN

  1. Install DFS Namespaces roles.
  2. Open DFS Management, right click on “Namespaces” and select “New Namespace”.
  3. Input the Server that will host this namespace.
  4. Input the namespace name, in “Advance Setting” page, select “Administrator have full access, other users have read and write permissions.
  5. Select domain based or standalone namespace from this page
  6.  In last step, review the settings can click “Create” a. Click on new created namespace, select “add namespace server” in “Namespace Servers” tab.

Add shared folder to appear inside new namespace

  1. Right click on new namespace, and select “New Folder”.
  2. Input the display name for the shares and click on “add”.
  3. Input or browser to the shared folder.
  4. Click on “OK” to add new folder target.

Steps to configure DFSR

  1. Install DFS Replication role in server.
  2. On DFS Management, right click on “Replication” and select “New Replication Group”.
  3. There are 2 types of replication group to create.
    1. Multipurpose replication group – replication between 2 or more servers for publication, content sharing.
    2. Replication group for data collection – 2-way synchronization between 2 servers (Branch server and hub server). Enables administrator select which server is primary server.
4. In the next page, input a name for replication group.
5. In the next page, select the primary server for the data replication and select the folder that used to replicate.
6. In the following page, select also the hub server and the destination folder.
7. In the next page, administrator will have the option to limit the replication speed during certain time or base on schedule.
8. Last step, click on “Create” after review the setting. The replication will only start after the Active Directory replication occurred.

Check DFSR status

As for DFSR replication, there is no monitoring tool available to keep track on the status. Below are the few methods to check on the replication status.

  • Generate Report
  1. Select the replication group, click on “Create Diagnostic Report” from the option.
  2. There are 3 different types of replication report available:
    1. Health Report – Show replication health and efficiency
    2. Propagation test – Test replication progress by creating a test file in replication folder.
    3. Propagation Report – Generates report that tracks the replication progress of a propagation test.
  3. In order to check the replication health, first option will be select.
  4. In next page, select the path to save the report and select the members of replication group.
  5. Last step, click on “Create” to generate the report.
  • Powershell command available
    1. Get-DFSRState – Gets the overall Distributed File System (DFS) Replication state for a computer in regard to its replication group partners. The cmdlet returns both inbound and outbound file replication information, such as files currently replicating and files immediately queued to replicate next.
    2. Get-DFSRBackLog – Retrieves the list of pending file updates between two DFS Replication partners.
  • Event Viewer
    1. Event ID : 4102 – This event indicate the replication group from both servers had been ready for initial synchronization.
    2. Event ID : 4104 – This event indicate the replication group had finished initial synchronization for that specific folder.
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In order to enable high availability of namespace server, you can add namespace server to host the same namespace. To do that, do the following:

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