A Handy DFSR Crash Course


You might know the term DFSR, or you may not have encountered it yet. If not, we’re here to tell you all about it. DFSR is a Microsoft service. It stands for distributed file system replication.

In this article, we’ll talk about DFSR, and we’ll cover what it does, as well as some of its limitations. We’ll even discuss some alternatives if you feel like it’s not the best fit for your needs.

What Exactly is DFSR?

Before we get into alternative DFSR options and some of its limitations, let’s go over some fundamentals. DFSR:

  • Is a Microsoft-developed Windows Server feature
  • Has been around since 2003

Microsoft saw DFSR as a solution for individuals who needed multiple-location file distribution. It was a way for teams that had multiple worksites to access data from the closest file servers to them.

If you have a business entity that elects to use DFSR, you can utilize it to synchronize and replicate files. You can do this across multiple servers that might be in several different locations.

How Well Does It Work?

At the time it came out, many businesses liked DFSR. They could use it to:

  • Create backups for business continuity purposes
  • Share files and collaborate across multiple offices or at-home workstations

However, while there are some things DFSR can do very well, there are other areas where it falls short. For instance, there are some volume and transactional capacity limitations. We’ll get into some of the more significant DFSR negatives now.

It is Windows Server-Use Limited

Probably the most significant DFSR limitation is that you can only use it if you’re using Windows. Lots of individuals and business entities use Windows, but it is hardly the only platform out there.

For example, you can’t use DFSR if you use enterprise NAS file systems, a non-Windows cloud option, or UNIX. There’s nothing that says you’ll want to use Windows as your storage provider, and you’re not even going to consider those other options.

Even if you mostly use the Windows Server, though, this is still a problematic limitation. If you use a different platform for any other service, like if you want to have a non-Windows cloud backup, you can’t use DFSR with it. As you’d imagine, this can frustrate you pretty quickly.

Performance Issues

It is also likely that the more you use DFSR, you may notice more performance issues. It might have seemed near-groundbreaking when Microsoft released it, but that’s not the case now.

If you try to do WAN file synchronization, it takes a long time. If you make several changes in a short time frame, that slows it up even more.

The system cannot keep all files fully in-sync, especially if you have large data sets. In some instances, you might even notice this issue with smaller data sets.

You also might not like its performance if you’re doing a data scan. Servers should only synchronize file changes. Periodic data-integrity file scans are fine, but if you use DFSR to try to sync your data, it can cause your servers to go offline for a while.

You never want that to happen, so that might be a reason to look into other options right there.

What Other Options Are Out There?

If you have a smaller business entity, you can use the cloud for multiple-location team file availability. When DFSR first came out, most companies couldn’t do this.

The cloud isn’t perfect either, though. For one thing, you have to use the internet to access files. If you have a slower speed and narrower bandwidth, you’ll have similar problems to what you’d see with DFSR.

Some companies offer DFSR replacement services, though. You should consider these if you can afford them.

For a nominal fee, you can access file synchronization tools that can easily replicate files between multiple servers and locations, just like DFSR should do. However, they do so much more rapidly and smoothly. That’s because they use the latest technology rather than the outdated Microsoft system.

With these options, you get powerful file management capabilities, a platform-agnostic design, conflict-preventing file locking, and lightning-quick synchronization. If you have the cash in your operating budget, you should think about getting one of these tools.

It’s a tax write off in most cases, and these days, with so many remote workers, this is probably one of the optimal solutions to a common problem. You don’t need to stick with a once-innovative but now nearly obsolete DFSR system.

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