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We have a primary file server for our Windows Server 2003 (Standard Edition) domain. We're running active directory in a plain vanilla type environment. When we recently migrated from an old server to a new one, I set up a DNS entry as Files.OurDomain.local as an Alias (CNAME) to the real server name. I disabled Strict Name Checking (see MSDN link text). All client machines now refer to \\Files or \\Files.OurDomain.local to get to their files. No one ever uses RealServer.OurDomain.local. Printers also use an alias to get to their server.

I plan to use this setup in the event of a significant server problem to switch the dns alias to another server as a poor man's warm standby. Also it should make server migrations in the future very easy. I tried DFS but it didn't give me the comfort that I had exact control over where files were going. The default TTL (Time to Live) for the DNS entries is 1 hour. That's probably what it would take the tech staff to determine that the server had been lost and we would really need to switch to the backup.

Any concerns or problems (or even accolades) with this approach?

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You should be able to accomplish better solution with DFS replication. – Saif Khan May 15 '09 at 17:35
I tried DFS but when I faked caused a server to fail and then brought it back on line it wasn't easy for me to figure out where the files were being changed. I want to control which server is really the master. – Knox May 15 '09 at 18:39
up vote 2 down vote accepted

It seems like you're handicapping yourself by not just using DFS or Clustered File Sharing.

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I think the clustering requires enterprise and I should have said we have a few Standard Edition versions of Windows server 2003. – Knox May 15 '09 at 18:36

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