We're currently using 2 Windows 2008 R2 with DFS but discovered some issues with:

  • replication of permissions (permissions are not replicated across DFS members)
  • replication of quota (quota is disk-based)

Do these problems exist in clusters? Meaning, if we set the permission/quota on a folder in a member cluster, will all members of that cluster inherit the permission/quota? We will have a dedicated servers (HP P4300 Lefthand) and we plan to use it for the file servers as well. So, our choices are: DFS or fail-over cluster.

  • Clusters share disk space, so the exact same file system is shared through the multiple cluster members. – Chris S Jul 29 '11 at 18:19
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    Yes, which also saves space as opposed to DFS which keeps a separate copy of the file on each DFS-member machine. – FrancisV Aug 14 '11 at 5:02

http://blogs.technet.com/b/filecab/archive/2006/09/22/457319.aspx anaswers your question on quota behaviour on cluster nodes. Note this is for FSRM quotas. FSRM and NTFS quotas are apparently different. See http://support.microsoft.com/kb/915042. Which do you have? Also see http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc770989(WS.10).aspx#BKMK_FSRMvsNTFS

Without wanting to sound like marketing I'd like to say DFS and clustering are complementary technologies. Clustering is for those that want quick recovery from server (node) failure. DFSR is for keeping multiple copies in several places in sync. This is why DFSR is supported on clusters starting with 2008 R2. See http://blogs.technet.com/b/filecab/archive/2009/01/19/dfs-replication-what-s-new-in-windows-server-2008-r2.aspx .

What are the issues you have with replicating permissions? Did you pre-seed content in supported ways before creating RG/RF? I wonder if a robocopy usage issue is the cause fo your permissions issue. See http://blogs.technet.com/b/askds/archive/2010/09/07/replacing-dfsr-member-hardware-or-os-part-2-pre-seeding.aspx

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  • +1 Distinct and Complimentary technologies. – Chris S Jul 29 '11 at 18:20
  • Thanks for making this clearer -- since we only have a single location, clustering makes more sense than DFS as I'm only interested with ensuring the file server is always available. DFS is helpful if you have many locations where the WAN might be a bottleneck. – FrancisV Aug 14 '11 at 5:02

Clusters work by moving actual NTFS volumes between nodes, so there isn't any replication needed. All of the data, which includes all of the metadata like ACLs, moves as a whole. Because of this, all rights and quotas (directory and user) follow the volume, as well as any Shadow Copy settings you may have on there. Unlike DFS, you can't mount the same data multiple places, it's always served by a single node. That node can change, but it is always one node.

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  • @ChrisS That's for vSphere volumes, isn't it? – sysadmin1138 Jul 29 '11 at 19:27
  • Maybe I'm misunderstanding it a bit... I'll double check. – Chris S Jul 29 '11 at 19:31

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