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The Downsides of Distributed File System Replication

May 26, 2021 08:54 AM EDT | By Ernest Hamilton
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The Downsides of Distributed File System Replication
(Photo : The Downsides of Distributed File System Replication)

In the modern age, it's vital for businesses to ensure that their workers have fast, efficient, reliable access to files and data. Studies show that a single minute of downtime can result in major financial losses, and any form of interruption or delay when it comes to filing accessibility or availability can cause chaos and serious negative consequences for any company, great or small. 

This is especially important for multi-location organizations that have teams operating in different places around the country, or even around the world, as you need to make sure that each of those teams can access up-to-date folders and files without any issues or interruptions. To meet this need, many companies make use of Microsoft Distributed File System Replication (DFSR).

An Introduction to DFSR

Microsoft DFSR is a feature provided by Microsoft as part of the Windows Server product. Its main function is to replicate and sync files over several servers that are typically spread out across different locations, with the aim being to ensure that teams in different locations have access to the same updated files.

It was first released back in 2003, aimed at providing a much-needed file distribution solution for multi-location organizations, and users of the feature discovered more uses and applications for it over time, such as for collaborative projects and general file sharing. However, with time, weaknesses in the system were also discovered, leading many companies to pursue DFSR alternatives.

The Weaknesses of DFSR

So why might your company want to consider a DFSR alternative as opposed to making continued use of Microsoft DFSR? Here are some of the downsides to the feature in its current state:

Windows Only 

One of the biggest drawbacks to using Microsoft DFSR is that, because it's a Microsoft feature, it only works with Microsoft Windows platforms and devices. There are no ways around this and no possible options to make use of DFSR with other non-windows systems and platforms. 

At a time when companies are increasingly looking beyond the Microsoft space and making use of tools and systems from other providers, this can be a crippling issue to deal with. 

Even organizations that mostly used Windows Server may still want to expand and branch out into other platforms and systems over time, but won't be able to do so if they continue using DFSR as their main multi-location file distribution solution.

Scaling Issues 

Scaling and scalability are increasingly important aspects in the world of business because as businesses grow and evolve organically over time, they need tools and solutions that can also grow and adjust in time with them. 

When your company expands, you need a solution that can expand with you. Likewise, when you're going through a downsizing phase, you need solutions that are able to be scaled back in order to save time and money for your business. DFSR isn't too bad at scaling down, but when it comes to scaling up, it can start to struggle in a big way. 

Many users have seen examples of this firsthand, as when you start getting too many files or too much data, DFSR's reliability levels can plummet. This is logical, as the feature was built many years ago and simply wasn't ready for the changing landscape of digital data in the developing business world. In simple terms, DFSR can't keep up with growing brands.

Performance Problems 

In today's world, people expect high levels of performance from the digital systems and services they use, especially in business. Speed and performance are vital, and you need services that can respond quickly and reliably, with minimal downtime and no inconvenience whatsoever. 

Unfortunately, while DFSR was hailed upon its release as a useful and reliable tool, it isn't able to compete in terms of speed and general performance when compared to some of the top alternatives out there nowadays. 

It can struggle to maintain synchronization levels at the standards that users expect, it suffers when handling large amounts of data, and it can be slow and sluggish when lots of changes are made to files over a short span of time. 

Users often report issues connected with data scans and can struggle to get their systems synchronized after making hardware upgrades or alterations. All of this can lead to unnecessary delays, downtime, and a lot of frustration too.

Final Word

These are just some of the drawbacks of DFSR and reasons why your company may want to consider an alternative in order to enjoy the modern-day levels of multi-location file distribution and synchronization you need.

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