I'm in the process of researching and setting up Distributed File System (DFS) in our environment. From all the articles I've read, I've decided that I want to install the namespace server on the Domain Controller. Here's my question(s). We have two domain controllers so that we have AD redundancy (in case on is down). If I install DFS-N on both of the domain controllers, will they automatically provide DFS Root redundancy for each other? In all the articles I've read, I'm still not clear if I should have two DFS root namespace servers and if so, if they automatically provide root redundancy. If not, can it be setup manually, and how?

My current thinking is that I should install DFS-N on both domain controllers for redundancy. I just need some expert direction. Thanks.

We're running Windows Server 2008 R2, is running at 2003 Domain and Forest functional Level. We're small and all our servers are in the same LAN.

  • 1. Before implimenting DFS, make sure you have a good reason to do so... it's a huge pain. 2. Why install the nameservers on your DCs? Why not install them on the fileservers holding the DFS replicas instead? In my experience, you don't really gain anything from separating the namespace servers from the file servers, so... don't. No need to add another point of failure into a system that's pretty temperamental at the best of times. Jun 30, 2014 at 22:38
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    I don't think we're going to utilize DFS replication, I think we'll just use DFS to make our UNC paths. We're going to do some moving of files in the background and DFS seems to be a good way of keeping UNC paths the same regardless of where the data moves to. Do you mean DFS is temperamental, or DFS replication is?
    – yougotiger
    Jul 1, 2014 at 0:26
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    Making your DC's your namespace servers has one advantage: The namespace will become visible when browsing the root domain, e.g. \\ad.example.com will show the DFS root if they are on the DCs. Otherwise you have to go to \\ad.example.com\rootfolder. Not really a big deal at all. We don't have our DC's as namespace servers but if you only had two it wouldn't be a big deal. Jul 1, 2014 at 1:34
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    (don't do this if you have a lot DCs, and only do if you're going to make all DC's namespace servers. Otherwise depending on which DC you have resolved to you may or may not see the root folder when browsing) Jul 1, 2014 at 1:36
  • @yougotiger I mean that DFS replication is temperamental. The way you're doing it is the smart way. If it were me, I'd put namespace servers on the DCs and the fileserver(s)... which is actually what we do, though, granted we use DFS for replication as well. Jul 1, 2014 at 4:09

1 Answer 1


Yes, you want more than one server hosting the namespace root. From the Storage Team at Microsoft:

What makes a namespace fault tolerant is where and how the root is hosted. For a stand-alone namespace to be fault tolerant, the root must be created on a server cluster. For a domain-based namespace to be fault tolerant, you need at least two domain controllers in the domain (to provide referrals to the namespace) and two namespace servers hosting the root (to provide referrals to folder targets). This last point about domain-based namespaces is often misunderstood, too. Customers think that because the namespace is in Active Directory, this somehow makes the namespace fault tolerant. The AD aspect is more about consistency than redundancy. All namespace servers will poll a domain controller periodically to obtain the latest DFS metadata, helping ensure that all the namespace servers provide referrals that are consistent. You still need an operational domain controller and namespace server (which can be the same server) to provide referrals.

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