DFS-R Walkthrough


In this post I will continue the Distributed File System walkthrough I started back in February where I did the DFS-Namespace located here. So let’s talk about why DFS-R is cool and scenarios in which you would make use of it. Then we’ll go through setting it up in both the GUI and through PowerShell.

In the DFS Namespace post, we talked about how creating a namespace allows for bringing all file shares under a common namespace regardless of where the actual data was stored. DFS Replication allows for multi-master replication of files located on windows servers. Multi-master is a term we generally frequently in the AD world, but simply means that changes can happen on any server in the replication group, and those changes will replicate to its partners. One important note: DFS-Namespace and DFS-Replication technologies are mutual exclusive and does not require the other to be configured first, but at Dell we do generally see them used together.

My setup:

2 DC’s – DC01 ( and DC02 ( are domain controllers for the matrix.local domain and are in the Default-First-Site-Name

2 File Servers –



Once all the good times of setting IP Addresses, renaming, and joining the domain we are now ready to setup FS01.

The environment is not very complicated: 2 domain controllers and 2 file servers.  That said, I needed to generate some test data in order to be have some data to replicate which we’ll do next.  I embedded the actual script used to create this data.

Word of warning: some really basic code ahead:

Set objFSO = CreateObject(“Scripting.FileSystemObject”)
strStartPath = “C:\Data\CorpData”

strFileName = “Sample”
strExt = “.txt”

Set objFolder = objFSO.CreateFolder(strStartPath)
for i = 0 to 200
strNewFolder = strStartPath & “\Folder” & i
Set objFolder = objFSO.CreateFolder(strNewFolder)
for j = 0 to 200
strSubFolder = strNewFolder & “\Subfolder” & i & “-” & j
Set objFolder = objFSO.CreateFolder(strSubFolder)
for k = 0 to 200
Set objFile = objFSO.CreateTextFile(strSubFolder & “\” & strFileName & i & “-” & j & “-” & k & strExt)
Set objFile = objFSO.CreateTextFile(strNewFolder & “\” & strFileName & i & strExt)
msgbox “Done”

So that’s all fancy but what does it do?
Well first thing is that its vbscript; I am an old vb guy so when I want to whip out some quick code this is what I resort too. Sure you could do this in PowerShell, and given enough time I may eventually do that. Don’t beat me up too much on it.
Here are the steps of the script in plain English

  1. Create a folder called c:\Data\CorpData
  2. Then create 201 subfolders called Folder(#) in my case 0 to 200
  3. Then in the sub folder create 201 more folders called SubFolder(#)
  4. In each subfolder create 201 empty files named Sample-Folder#-Subfolder#-File#.txt
  5. Rinse and repeat steps 2-4 for 200 times while creating a file under the original Folder(#)

I know that’s a lot of overkill but since the files are all 0kb and the folders are 0 kb it allows me to create a lot of files and folders really quickly (about 5 to 10 minutes) – this little script creates the following for files and folders:

Yes that says 8 million files in 40,602 folders with a 0kb size. While this is not likely what you will see in production, it will allow us to move on to the next step. If your are testing this as well and do not want that many then you could change all the 200’s to 20 in the above script and that would make a lot less files and folders, thus making the whole process quicker.

I went ahead and set the corpdata as a share called corpdata – because of all the files and folders this took a really long time – mental note to self “create the share first”.

For users to access at this point they would go to \\fs01.matrix.local\corpdata which looks like

Next we’ll install the DFS features.,

Step 1: Install the DFS Namespace, DFS Replication, and DFS Management tools

In Server Manager, Click Manage and select Add Roles and Features – This will bring up the Add Roles and Features Wizard

Note: As soon as you click one of the 2 roles a popup will open prompting to install the DFS Management Tools – Click Add Features

Step 2: Create the Namespace “Data”

While I am not going through all the steps that have been done to get the namespace up and running, for specific steps please see this blog posting here

In the above picture we have a domain based namespace called Matrix.local\Corp with a folder named Data. The Data folder has a target of \\fs01.matrix.local\CorpData

Data can be accessed either via directly from the server or namespace

Step 3: Prepare FS02

So time passes and the Matrix powers that be decide that the corporate data needs to be duplicated to FS02. Usually this is to allow either users faster access to the data when located at another site, data redundancy, or as a disaster recovery scenario. Windows 2012 R2 has many enhancements that allow for replication to be faster and much more efficient over previous versions.

While it would be easy to go through the Add Roles and Feature wizard again for FS02, where would the fun be in that? We will configure FS02 with PowerShell.

That command is “Install-WindowsFeature FS-DFS-Namespace, FS-DFS-Replication, RSAT-DFS-Mgmt-Con

That was much quicker and easier to install than using Server Manager.

Step 4: Create the CorpData share on FS02

The path locally for FS02 will be C:\Data\CorpData

Run the command New-Item C:\Data –Type directory

Run the command New-Item C:\Data\CorpData –Type directory

Open windows explorer and validate the ntfs permissions for the above folders match the FS01 server

This is necessary to keep the permissions consistent – mismatched permissions is a common issue we see in Dell support when DFS replication is used. It is also easier/quicker to set permissions before there is actual data in the folder. Check both folders.

Go ahead and create the share using the same permissions as FS01

Browse to the folder to validate that the share is accessible – there won’t be any data – we will do that next

Step 5: PreSeed the Data

This is the step where we get our Robocopy on. If you need some background on Robocopy see this blog or Microsoft site http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn495044.aspx. The command that we will use is:

robocopy “<source replicated folder path>” “<destination replicated folder path>” /e /b /copyall /r:6 /w:5 /MT:64 /xd DfsrPrivate /tee /log:<log file path> /v

Our specific command will be:

Robocopy \\fs01\corpdata C:\Data\CorpData /e /b /copyall /r:3 /w:1 /MT:64 /XD DfsrPrivate /tee /log:c:\robo.log /v
We will run that from FS02.

This will take a while to run – after all, there is 8 million files to copy.

Once complete, validate the copy status – in my test environment there will be no failures because nobody is really accessing the data and it is all text files. In the real world there may be failures, but there is no harm in running the Robocopy command several times.  After the initial copy subsequent runs will be quicker because only changed files or new files will be copied. Robocopy gives a pretty good report when the copy is done.

One step that you will want to do is to check the file hash, on 8 million files would be a really tough task to accomplish so I am going to spot check a file or 2 to validate the copy’s file hash matches the FS01 file. Using the Get-DfsrFileHash PowerShell command to get the hash from the source and destination server to visually validate.

As you can see the file hashes match from the source and destination. See this TechNet article for more options and switches.

Step 6: Create the Replication Group

Now we are getting down to actually creating the replication group. Using the DFS Management Interface is easy enough but will not allow for cloning the Replication database because you have to add both members at the time of the creation of the replication group. The reason we want to clone is that with the 8.1 million files initial synchronization will take a really long time while the servers compare and exchange metadata and files. So we will create the replication group on FS01.

Create the Replication Group by running this command

Create the replicated folder by running this command

Add FS01 as a member of the replication group

Set the DFSR membership properties including the path of the folder to be replicated

Refresh the DFS Management console and the new replication group and replicated folder will be there

Now I am updating the config from AD by running the PowerShell command Update-DfsrConfigurationFromAD

Before we go to step 7, we need to wait for event 4112 in the DFS Replication log. That event will let us know that we are done and ready to export the DFS Replication database.

Step 7: Export a clone of the Database

First we will need a place to store the clone, so we will create a new folder

Running the following command will export the database:

When the export completes, a message similar to this will be displayed

Step 8: Copy the Clone to FS02

Running Robocopy with the command
Robocopy C:\Data\DFSRClone \\FS02\C$\Data\DFSRClone /B

Step 9: Import the Clone

On FS02 run the following command to import the clone from FS01

This will take a bit as the Export was 3.3 GB. Either wait for the command to complete, or check the DFS Replication event log for Event 2404 which indicates the import is completed.

Event ID 2416 in the same log will give you status update information while the import is going on, usually about 4 events a minute.

Step 10: Add FS02 to the Replication Group


In PowerShell on FS02 Run the following 3 commands

Add-DfsrMember –GroupName Corpdata –ComputerName FS02

Add-DfsrConnection –GroupName Corpdata –SourceComputerName FS01 –DestinationComputerName FS02

Set-DfsrMembership –GroupName Corpdata –FolderName CorpData –ContentPath C:\Data\CorpData –ComputerName FS02

Wait for event 4104 in the DFS Replication log to know when this has been completed

Step 11: Test Replication

Ok now that DFSR is setup let’s validate that everything is working as expected.

In DFS Management, Select the Replication group on the left pane and Select Create Diagnostic Report in the Action Pane.

On the Diagnostic Report Wizard Select Propagation Report

Click Next

On the next screen select the server and folder then click next

On the Next page Click Create

View the results then Close the wizard.

Give some time to pass, a couple minutes or so, then rerun Diagnostic Report Wizard – This time select the propagation report.

Go through the wizard and view the results. A health report is also a good way to monitor health of the replication group.

Additional tests to perform

Test 1: Open one of the text files and modify the contents, validate that change replicates to the other server.

Test 2: The final test would be to create a new folder and a new file in that folder, allow some time to pass then check the other server and validate the data has replicated.


We went through a DFSR setup, while I did a lot of PowerShell to accomplish this primarily to show off the cool PowerShell module, but also demonstrate the DFSR database cloning feature. While in smaller environments all this could be done via the DFS Management console as far as creating the routing group. Larger environments with terabytes of data and millions of files will want to give this a try. Microsoft says that cloning the database could save up to 99% of the time it would normally take on initial sync. For more information please read through the following Technet article on database cloning, http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn482443.aspx.


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Posted in DFS, How To, Scripts, Windows 2012 R2
3 comments on “DFS-R Walkthrough
  1. […] Source : DFS-R Walkthrough | Dirk & Brad’s Windows Blog […]

  2. Tekie says:

    Don’t you need to add the 2nd server as a folder target for the CorpData folder at the end as well?

  3. Taiwo says:

    This isn’t easy to follow if you want to know which server you’re on in each step. 01 or 02. I guess I’ll know via trial and error. Thank you for the scripts.

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