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Using Samba, Second Edition by David Collier-Brown, Robert Eckstein, Jay Ts

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Microsoft Distributed Filesystems

In a large network where many shared folders are spread out over a large number of servers, it can be difficult for users to locate the resources they are trying to find. Browsing through Network Neighborhood or My Network Places can become an ordeal rather than a time-saving convenience. To mitigate this problem, Microsoft added an extension to file sharing called Distributed filesystem (Dfs). Using Dfs, it is possible to organize file shares on the network so that they appear to users as organized in a single directory tree on a single server, regardless of which servers on the network actually contain the resources. Instead of having to browse the entire network, users can go to the Dfs share and locate their data much more easily.

Dfs can also help administrators because it provides a level of indirection between the name of a shared folder and its actual location. The Dfs share contains references to resources on the network, and when a resource is accessed, the Dfs server hands the client off to the actual server of the resource. When moving resources to another computer, the reference to the resource in the Dfs share can be redirected to the new location in one step, with the change being entirely seamless for users.

To a limited extent, Dfs also can help improve performance for read-only shares because it provides load balancing. It is possible to set up a Dfs reference to point to identical shares on two or more servers. The Dfs server ...

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