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I'm in a small company that has offices on the east and west coasts of America and also various people working from their homes. There are Windows Servers already in the offices. I think that Microsoft Windows DFS will do what I want, but despite reading the web site, I'm really not sure, so I'm hoping that someone can confirm if it will do all the following:

(For various personnel / political reasons I know that a proposal for a Microsoft Windows system has more chance of being accepted than any *nix system)

  1. Creation of a Folder so that any files in this folder will automatically be available on the servers in all the offices.
  2. When anyone opens up one of these shared files on any of servers, the copies on all the servers will automatically be locked. And when they close the file, the updates automatically get copied to the file on all the servers.
  3. VPN access to these folders for people working outside the offices.

Bandwidth at the main offices varies from 6 Mb/s to 20Mb/s. Files are Excel / Word / AutoCAD ranging in size from 100KB to 4MB.

Thank you.

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I wonder if you should be looking at something like BranchCache instead? – Zoredache Dec 1 '11 at 8:09
Thank you all for your information. FYI : I found this useful Microsoft blog discussing why there is no file locking in DFS-R. blogs.technet There are some useful discussions / comments. I'm going to be trying DFS-R + Peerlock – Adam Salkin Dec 1 '11 at 21:46
  1. This can be accomplished with DFS-R. It's straightforward.

  2. No, DFS uses an algorithm to determine which copy "wins" when there is a conflict. It's not really meant for simultaneous access at different sites. It will replicate changes, but it will not lock the file at other sites. You might want to look at a different solution for this.

  3. You can use a VPN to access these shares like you would for any other shares. The machines accessing it should be domain-joined, if you plan on using DFS Namespaces to obscure the share path. Non-domain machines are not DFS Namespace aware. That said, they can still always reach the target path of the actual server, skipping the namespace.

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Thank you for the clarifications. With 2. being a NO I will look at other solutions. I've just seen a product from Peer Software called PeerLock that appears to add file locking to DFS. Anyone used this? – Adam Salkin Dec 1 '11 at 3:47
You can certainly lock files but remember that many of the office file formats provide for file reconciliation in the format. Locking actually blocks that from happening. – Jim B Dec 1 '11 at 5:41
@JimB can you link to documentation that states that a file in use at one site will be locked at the other site? That hasn't been my experience. – MDMarra Dec 1 '11 at 12:20
@MarkM an office file in use at one site should not be locked at another. built into office is the ability to resolve edit conflicts. As I re-read this I can see how my comment might be confusing. I was refering to using peerlock type software. I didn't mean to imply that DFS will remote lock files (it won't). Sharepoint is usually a better fit when there is high volume of file changes going on. – Jim B Dec 1 '11 at 14:18
@JimB I think we were reading the OP's #2 point differently. I took it to be him asking if DFS-R could lock the files on all remote servers when it's open on one, which it doesn't. – MDMarra Dec 1 '11 at 14:22

Given that use case, I'd almost think you were better off with one big SharePoint instance - that would provide the locking mechanism you need, and make the question of DFS and VPN connections somewhat moot.

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Sharepoint seems like a reasonable solution in this scenario. It solves the requirement that a file can be opened for editing by only one user at a time. My question would be whether or not Sharerpoint would support all of the file types that you'd generally encounter and which might be stored/accessed on a file server, such as a CAD drawing, etc. – joeqwerty Dec 1 '11 at 2:26
In terms of viewing/previewing, it won't, but SharePoint will generically accept and version any filetype. I once as a test uploaded a 90MB RAR file in 2 versions and it took it just find. Given that the max file size is 4MB here, it would seem to work well to me. – Driftpeasant Dec 1 '11 at 2:34
Gotcha. Thanks for the insight. – joeqwerty Dec 1 '11 at 2:36
Thank you. When you say "one big Sharepoint instance" is that one server in one location? Or can the "sharepoint instance" be distributed across multiple servers in different locations? – Adam Salkin Dec 1 '11 at 3:50
You would have to have all the gear in one place - you can have multiple database and app servers for load balancing, but they pretty much all have to be on the same LAN, unless you happen to have LAN speeds across the WAN (i.e. 100Mbps MPLS circuits). – Driftpeasant Dec 1 '11 at 4:14

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