Deploying DFS namespaces

Now that we’ve had our first contact with DFS (Distributed File System) it’s time to move further and discover new features of this technology. In this article I will show you how to install and configure DFS on Windows Server 2012 Edition. For this tutorial I will be using two Windows Server 2012 R2 virtual machines that are already deployed within an Active Directory Domain. In the previous article we’ve talked briefly about about DFS and DFSR, but we still have a long way to go before all aspects of these technologies have been covered.
DFS tutorialWe will start by installing the necessary roles for these two components. Open the Server Manger console on one server, navigate to the Dashboard section and click on Add roles and features button. Expand File and Storage Services and select DFS Namespaces and DFS Replication:
Distributed File System tutorial
Once you’ve selected these two roles, check the confirmation page and proceed with the installation:


How to configure a DFS namespace
Since DFSR is a multimaster technology, it doesn’t matter on which server you’ll configure the DFS namespace. Proceed with the installation of both roles on the second machine. Once this operation is completed we’ll configure our DFS namespace. Note that we will create a Domain-based namespace since we are using two servers that are part of an Active Directory domain. You can add multiple servers to increase the availability of the DFS namespace in case of failures.


Open the DFS Management console, navigate to the Namespace section, right click it and select New Namespace. Check out the Actions menu from the right side of the window to view available actions:
DFS namespace Wizard
Since this is the first time the namespace is configured we will need to enter the name of the server hosting the namespace. Once DFSR is configured, the master node concept will not be applicable anymore.


Distributed File System
In the following section we’ll have to configure the name for our namespace. Since we are deploying this namespace within our domain, the newly configured DFS namespace will be available when accessing \\domain_name\namespace_name (in my case \\\Documents):


Distributed File System training
You can configure extra settings in this section by clicking the Edit Settings button. Here you can set the local path of the shared folder and the shared folder permissions. Usually, you will be using custom permissions when deploying a DFS namespace, but for now we will use the default settings:


Domain-based namespace
From the namespace type menu select Domain-based namespace and check Enable Windows Server 2008 mode to support increased features like scalability and access-based enumeration (ABE). Remember that the metadata of Domain-based namespaces are stored within AD DS:


Domain-based namespace tutorial
Review the settings and create the namespace. The newly created namespace will appear in the DFS Management console. We will need to add the second server to our namespace. From the actions menu select Add Namespace Server and add the second machine:


DFS console
On the Namespace Servers tab you can view all machines that are part of this namespace. Delegation tab is used to allow groups and users to administrate the DFS namespace. The Search tab can be used to locate folders or folder targets within the DFS namespace:


DFS tutorialNow let’s create a new folder on one of our servers and add it to the DFS namespace. Note that I don’t have a dedicated partition to store my shared folders since this is a testing environment. You should always have a separate partition that is different from the OS partition to store shared files and folders. The folder must have sharing activated before adding it to the namespace:
DFS namespace folders
Let’s return to the DFS Management console and add this folder as a resource to our namespace. Navigate to the Actions menu and click on New Folder. Set a name for the new folder and browse for it by pressing the Add button:


DFS Referrals
You can configure further settings by right clicking on the namespace name and selecting Properties from the menu. Within the first section we can add a description for the namespace and view the general info. On the Referrals tab we can configure cache duration and set a method for ordering targets outside of the client’s site. This option practically tells a DFS client what mechanism to use when trying to access a certain namespace resource. Remember that referrals settings can be configured at the server level or from each folder individually:


DFS Access-based enumeration
On the Advanced section we can optimize polling by selecting one of the two methods available Optimize for consistency and Optimize for scalability. Access-based enumeration (ABE) can also be enabled form this section:


Add Namespace to Display
On the second server the namespace will not be displayed automatically. To achieve this result open the DFS console and press the Add Namespace to Display button:


Now place a file within the folder and try to access it using the correct path. I first disabled the Windows Firewall on both servers just to make sure that there will be no network issues when accessing DFS shared folders. I’ve then typed \\\Documents\DanP from the second machine to verify if the namespace has been configured correctly:
Even though we’ve added two servers to host our namespace, replication hasn’t been configured yet so resources will be accessible only on the server hosting the specified folder. If you verify the shared folder on both servers using DFS Management console you will see that the second machine has listed the folder’s name but does not host its content.
In the following article I will show you how to configure DFS Replication for our newly created namespace and we will see how files and folders are replicated between DFS servers. Please don’t hesitate to post a comment if there are things left unclear. Don’t forget to enjoy your day and stay tuned for the following articles from IT training day.

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