I am curious if I can use DFS roots as shared folders without using any DFS links.

Some background: I like the idea of using DFS for name abstraction. By using domain-based namespaces, I can abstract away server name reference and have the flexibility of relocating shared folders to different machines in the future. However, as my network is small (~10 machines with one one AD server), DFS is somewhat overkill as it generally introduces too many level of indirection: DFS roots which contain folder links which point to actual SMB shares. While it makes sense if your SMB shared are distributed across different machine, it doesn't seem so when everything is on one machine. You end up have both DFS roots and SMB folders mapped one-to-one on the same machine.

Nevertheless, it looks like DFS roots are just normal folders. Instead of putting DFS links there, I can put files and documents in them. Thus, I wonder if it is possible to use DFS roots as shared folders, without creating DFS links? What are the shortcomings to this approach? Or perhaps you could also point out any point that I might misunderstood.

  • I am curious to know if there is an answer to this as well. – John Apr 13 '11 at 18:30

You absolutely can populate the root of a DFS namespace with content. There's nothing stopping you and it'll work fine.

In Windows 2008 DFS you can selectively disable root referrals so the problematic issues associated with partial replicas that existed in Windows 2003 DFS are removed.

Background for an unlucky soul who might still be using Windows 2003 DFS and who comes upon this post: In Windows 2003 DFS the main reason for not populating the root of a DFS namespace with content was because you couldn't disable referrals to incomplete replicas. Imagine a scenario in which you create a DFS root, populate it with 100GB of content, create a second root target, and enable replication. Referrals to the new root target, which isn't fully replicated, can't be prevented (unlike referrals to links within the root, which can be disabled on a link-for-link basis).

  • Good to know Windows 2003's limitation. – ejel Jul 13 '11 at 4:01

It is normal to use DFS in SMB environment, and without replication.

So you can create one DFS root, and place a few shares / folders inside it. Of course you will have ability in future to easily move some shares, or rename servers etc, because you use naming as you mentioned :)

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