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At work, we've got a bunch of boxes with free HD space. I'd like to run something like ZFS on those machines, making a large virtual file system available to all of the users. In my mind, it would map as a drive letter Z:, or maybe a UNC \\zfs\, and it would have redundant backup of chunks of data across the network so that if one computer goes down, it minimizes the chance of losing files.

I see CXFS, EMC Celera HighRoad, Melio FS, SAN-FS, StorNext File System...

What are people using today? Especially if it's FREE!

EDIT: One idea is to run FreeNAS inside a Sun VirtualBox, and use ZFS - but it looks to me like the ZFS Pools don't work across computers...? Also, running virtual boxes is less than ideal.

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migrated from Jan 9 '10 at 22:47

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I'm pretty sure ZFS is designed for a single computer, not as a distributed filesystem across multiple computers. But I could be wrong. – davr Jan 7 '10 at 19:52
You are correct! "ZFS is not a native cluster, distributed, or parallel file system and cannot provide concurrent access from multiple hosts as ZFS is a local file system. Sun's Lustre distributed filesystem will adapt ZFS as back-end storage for both data and metadata in version 3.0, which is scheduled to be released in 2010." – Matt Cruikshank Jan 7 '10 at 21:09
What OS are you running on the box's ? – JJ01 Jan 10 '10 at 4:41
Hi, JJ, I want an all Windows solution - and hopefully none of the boxes need to be Server versions, but I'm flexible on that. It'd be awesome if there was no central control node, but I'm flexible on that, too. – Matt Cruikshank Jan 11 '10 at 15:12
up vote 1 down vote accepted

AFS might work, but it's still more centralized than you're likely to want to deal with. Read more about it at

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What about Windows Distributed File System? That should allow you to create one drive that is in reality a mixture of multiple partitions across different disks/servers

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Have you actually used it? I see, "A DFS root can only exist on a server version of Windows, from Windows NT 4.0 and up, or on a computer running Samba." That sounds much more centralized than I'd expected. – Matt Cruikshank Oct 27 '09 at 16:57
Agree with Matt, DFS is a way to replicate a directory across multiple servers. Not a way to utilize multiple server's storage as one directory. – Scott McClenning Jan 9 '10 at 5:47

Plan 9 from Bell Labs?

I asked a similar question on ServerFault recently:

Solutions suggested there were Lustre and GlusterFS.

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As far as I can tell, none of those will work with Windows, and at least one of them isn't free. – Matt Cruikshank Jan 6 '10 at 4:43
ahh - my understanding of your question was that you were looking for a way to map a bunch of space out and mount it on Windows.. missed that it was sitting on Windows devices already. In that case, though, I think you could share those spaces out to another machine (perhaps a Linux or Solaris box), then using a clustering tool like Lustre, re-export to your target boxes. Probably non-ideal, though – warren Jan 6 '10 at 15:09

What you are asking for reminds me of Wuala (Google Talk video), except to be run in-house and not via the web. In the talk some people mentioned other technologies.

I too love ZFS and was waiting for MS to make Windows compatible with it, clone it or come out with their own (something like zNTFS).

EDITED: I found some software I tried a long time ago. It isn't a way to store files like a file system, but it is a distributed backup program. The program is called Vembu StoreGrid Backup Software. I'll keep looking for something that is more file system like.

EDITED: xFS shows promise, but looks to be research.

The only thing better than using unutilized space on the network is using ZFS on it.

Good luck.

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