Large organizations often have dozens, or even hundreds, of file servers. This can make it very difficult for users to remember which file server specific files are stored on. DFS provides a single namespace that allows users to connect to any shared folder in your organization. With DFS, all shared folders can be accessible using a single network drive letter in Windows Explorer.

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For example, if your Active Directory domain is Test.local, you could create the DFS namespace \\Test.local\dfs. Then, you could create the folder
\\Test.local\dfs\marketing and map it to shared folders (known as targets) at both
\\fs1\marketing and \\fs2\marketing. Besides providing a single namespace to make it easier for users to find files, DFS can provide redundancy for shared files using replication. Replication also allows you to host a shared folder on multiple servers and have client computers automatically connect to the closest available server.

Expand DFS Management and right click Namespaces. Select New Namespace. Browse for or type in the server. Click Next. Type in Name then select Edit Settings. Select Permission level then click OK. Click Next. Select Namespace type. Domain-based namespaces use the Active Directory domain name as their root. Stand-alone namespaces use the server as their root. Click Next. Review your settings then click Create. Click Close.

New Namespace is displayed. Right click the Namespace and select Properties. General properties of the namespace. Select the Referrals tab. Referrals properties of the namespace.


When a client accesses the root of a namespace or a folder with targets, the client receives a referral from the domain controller. Clients always attempt to access the
first target computer in the referral list and, if the first target computer does not respond, access computers farther down the list. Select Random Order from the Ordering Method dropdown list to distribute referrals evenly among all targets (with targets in the same site listed first). Select Lowest Cost to direct clients to the closest target computer first using site link costs (which you can define using the Active Directory Sites And Services console). If you would rather have clients fail instead of accessing a target in a different Active Directory site, select Exclude Targets Outside Of The Client’s Site. Folders inherit the ordering method from the namespace root by default, but you can also edit the properties of individual folders.

The Cache Duration setting defines how long clients wait before requesting a new referral.. Then Select the Advanced tab.

Optimize For Consistency – configures namespace servers to query the primary domain controller (PDC) each time the namespace changes, which reduces the time it takes for changes to the namespace to be visible to users.

Optimize For Scalability – reduces the number of queries (thus improving performance and reducing utilization of your PDC) by querying the closest domain controller at regular intervals.

Click OK to complete.

Adding folders to the DFS Namespace

Before your namespace is useful, you must add folders to it. Folders can be organizational, which means they exist only within the DFS namespace, or they can be associated with a shared folder on a server. When users connect to a DFS namespace, these folders appear
exactly like folders in a traditional file system.

Right click the Namespace and select New Folder. Name the new folder and click Add. Click Browse to select new folder target. Select new folder target, then click OK. Click OK to continue. The new folder has been added. More folders can be added to the namespace.

Configuring DFS from a Command Prompt or Script

You can use the DFSUtil tool to configure DFS from a command prompt or script. For example,
to view the DFS roots in a domain, run the following command: dfsutil domain <domain_name>
To view the roots on a specific server, run the following command: dfsutil server <server_name>
To view the targets in a namespace, run the following command:
dfsutil target \\<domain_name>\<namespace_root>
To view the targets for a folder, run the following command:
dfsutil link \\<domain_name>\<namespace_root>\<folder>

To view which Active Directory site a client participates in, run the following command:
dfsutil client siteinfo <client_name>
For complete usage information, type dfsutil /? at a command prompt.
To troubleshoot DFS, use the DFSDiag command-line tool. For more information, type dfsdiag /? at a command prompt.