I have a server running 2012 R2, and I have set up a DFS namespace on it called \\Domain\Files. I would like to set up another server, so that if this one goes down, people can still access \\Domain\Files.

Now, the files are not hosted on this server, so I don't think DFS replication is what I need. Just want the namespace to be able to be read from both servers, and have them point to the same network shares.


Simply install the DFS Feature on another server and add it to the namespace using the DFS Management snap-in. This will give the namespace high-availability, though it obviously does nothing for the files that it is offering referrals to.

Note that this only works on domain-based namespaces and does not work on a standalone namespace. For details, see this: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc732807.aspx


You just need to add another folder target to your Namespace.

This article from Microsoft gives the step-by-step:

A folder target is the Universal Naming Convention (UNC) path of a shared folder or another namespace that is associated with a folder in a namespace. Adding multiple folder targets increases the availability of the folder in the namespace.

To add a folder target by using DFS Management, use the following procedure.

  1. Click Start , point to Administrative Tools , and then click DFS Management .

  2. In the console tree, under the Namespaces node, right-click a folder, and then click Add Folder Target .

  3. Type the path to the folder target, or click Browse to locate the folder target.

  4. If the folder is replicated by using DFS Replication, you can specify whether to add the new folder target to the replication group.


You now have two choices, you can leave both live or have one disabled.

If you don't replicate the content, and the content is not static, then you'll have issues if both are enabled. Users won't always get the same content. One day it will be from target A and another day (or another user) will be from target B.

You can leave one disabled and enable it only in case of failure.

You can have both disabled and change the priority (in the Advanced properties tab) such that one target is "First among targets of equal cost" and the other "Last among targets of equal cost" so that one target is used and the other will be used only in case the first one is not available - provided they are equal cost. I have had varied success with that.

  • Not sure why this is downvoted, this is correct. Add another target to the namespace. Enable replication if required (it probably is). Mar 7 '14 at 1:38
  • @Mark I don't think so. Read closely. The 2012 R2 server hosting the namespace isn't the file server(s)
    – MDMarra
    Mar 7 '14 at 2:16
  • @MDMarra - can you even do that? Present a share via a DFS namespace from a server that doesn't have DFS installed on it? Mar 7 '14 at 2:29
  • Of course you can. That's all that a DFS referral is - It's the DFS Namespace server telling the client what back-end target to connect to. The namespace server(s) can be completely decoupled from the file server(s) that it offers referrals to. It's not exactly common, but it's not necessarily rare to see this either. It sounds like the OP has the namespace on one server with referrals to multiple file servers as targets behind the scenes. The benefit to this approach is a consistent unified UNC namespace to point scripts at that persists across upgrades.
    – MDMarra
    Mar 7 '14 at 2:31
  • 2
    @MDMarra is correct. I have the DFS set up and have it pointed to multiple file servers. Not all of them are Windows. I need to also have the referrals on another DC so that if one goes down, the other can handle the request. Mar 7 '14 at 2:40

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