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Using a Distributed File System (DFS) to Share Business Records

Updated on January 24, 2012

Medium and large businesses often set up a computer network over a large geographic area. Use of a distributed file system can save money while allowing all employees to access important company files.

Company Size

Small businesses with only one office generally have no need for a distributed file system. Since the purpose is to save money, companies using this technology typically employ it when there are several branch or satellite offices in the same or different cities. This is particularly true when the company utilizes a wide-area network (WAN).

Windows Server

Windows Server operating systems include DFS. Starting with the Windows 2003 Server operating system, Microsoft includes DFS Namespaces and DFS Replication.

DFS Namespaces

According to Microsoft, namespaces for distributed file systems take folders located on different servers and group them together into a single folder (see Sources). Depending on the configuration and location of the files, employees looking for these shared files will not have to connect to them through a WAN connection. This can save money.

DFS Replication

DFS Replication serves as a file-replicating tool for DFS Namespaces. It synchronizes folders among different servers.

Getting Started

Note that this section applies to Windows 2003 Server. Your version may differ to some degree.

To set up your distributed file system, go to the Start menu and select "Programs" and "Administrative Tools." Then, click on the "Distributed File System" option (see in Sources). You can also find the DFS by going to the Administrative Tool folder in the Control Panel. Once you open DFS, you will see a management console.

To install file sharing, you first create a DFS root. Right-click on the node and select "New Root." Follow the instructions from there to set up your distributed file system. Create a domain root if you want to include replication for this DFS implementation.


There are other distributed file systems. This article only describes the Microsoft version. Other examples are Hadoop, Coda and Cosmos.

Microsoft: Distributed File System Windows 2003 DFS (Distributed File System)


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