DFS, or the distrbuted file system, was a feature originally found in the NT 4 product but underutilized. The distributed file system allows you to organize shared folders on the network into a single logical hierarchy, while maintaining data on different physical servers. To the user, data which is actually distributed appears to fall under an organized, structured hierarchy. This allows you to not only manipulate how users see the data (you can use different share names for existing folders), but also how they access it (you can create whatever hierarchy will best suit the needs of the users). For example, data might be physically distributed, as outlined below:
Sales data files \\server13\salesdata
Sales quota files \\server2\s-quotainfo
Sales report files \\server1\rpt
Using DFS, we could create a DFS root called Sales using an empty shared folder on Server1 called Sales, and create a the following hierarchy:
We would simply map a drive for users to the Sales folder on Server1, and they would automatically be redirected to the appropriate folder of the appropriate server as they accessed the subfolders. Note that DFS maintains and does not change any of the permissions associated with the actual folders. Whatever level of access users had to the folders before DFS will be the same level of access after DFS has been configured.
In Windows 2000, two types of DFS structures exist – standalone DFS, and domain-based DFS. Note that while a domain can host multiple DFS roots, any server can host only a single DFS root, regardless of type (stand-alone or domain-based).