Home > Articles > Operating Systems, Server > Microsoft Servers

Organizing Shares with Windows Server 2003 DFS

Want to reduce administration time and user frustration? Streamline your network file sharing with DFS. Jesse Smith tells you how to set up a DFS root, and you'll learn some good practices for managing one or more DFS roots on your network.
Like this article? We recommend

Like this article? We recommend

One of the biggest jobs an administrator of a large network has to do is manage user shares. Users need to be able to access certain shares on various file servers, or in some instances create shares on their own machine for sharing with other users. It is important to have an organized structure with which to manage files; otherwise, you introduce more ways for files to become lost, needlessly duplicated, or removed. This article tells you how to set up a DFS root, and you'll learn some good practices for managing one or more DFS roots on your network.

You can think of a DFS root as a centralized virtual file share structure. It is a hierarchy of shares across your network that is collectively brought together for easy access and administration. Each share in your DFS root that represents a share located somewhere on your network is referred to as a link. Much like a website contains links to other pages, a DFS root contains links to shared folders across your network. These shares do not even need to be Windows shares; they can be UNIX or Netware volumes, too! If your network is a hybrid of different operating systems, DFS can be a great tool to implement.

Windows 2003 DFS integrates with Active Directory. By having the root stored in Active Directory, the root is replicated and maintained across all domain controllers on your network. If one server serving the root should fail, another one immediately takes its place, and users are directed accordingly—which is transparent to them. What's more, with Windows Server 2003, you can use DFS with the File Replication Service in situations in which you have identical file shares on different servers that are linked to your DFS root.

Setting Up a DFS Root

To access the DFS Management Console, select Distributed File System from the Administrative Tools menu. Once the console is open, right-click Distributed File System in the left pane to initiate the New Root Wizard. You should see a screen similar to the one shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1Figure 1 Selecting the DFS root type

The first screen of the New Root Wizard asks you to choose between a domain root and a stand-alone root. If you manage a large network, a domain root is preferable because it replicates the root across the domain controllers on your network using Active Directory. A good choice if you want your shares available at all times with little or no down time.

A stand-alone root is a DFS root that does not use Active Directory. Unlike a domain root, it does not have to be installed on a domain controller. For smaller networks, this option is probably just as good and does not require Active Directory. Because I am using a domain controller, I will select the Domain root option. Click Next to continue; you'll see a screen like the one shown in Figure 2.


You will not see this screen if you chose the Stand-alone root option on the previous screen of the New Root Wizard.

Figure 02Figure 2 Selecting a host domain.

On this screen, you're asked which domain controller you want to publish the DFS root to. You can either type in a name or select from a list of trusted domains. Another advantage of hosting a root on a domain controller is that you do not have to point your users to a specific server on the network as you would with a stand-alone root. In other words, you simply have to only point them to the share using the domain path, as in <domain_name/share_name>. It can work this way because a specific server hosting the root is transparent to a client using a domain root. If the domain server where the DFS was originally published goes down, another domain controller will take over hosting of the root.

Click Next to give the server name that will be the original host for the DFS root. You can either browse or type in the name, as shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3Figure 3 Designating a server.

In the example, the primary domain controller is the same name as the first part of my primary DNS suffix. In any case, it should follow the DNS suffix naming convention. If you are not sure when typing it out, use the Browse button to find the server; it will automatically populate this field correctly for you. Click Next to name the DFS root and give a description, as shown in Figure 4.

Figure 4Figure 4 Naming the DFS root.

Each root name must be unique, which makes some sense. You wouldn't want two roots by the same name for the same domain (or on the same server, for that matter). After filling out the Root name field, you can see what tne UNC path to this root share will look like. You can use this path in login scripts if needed or to map a share drive on a client's machine to this new root. Click Next to define the share for the root, as shown in Figure 5.

Figure 5Figure 5 Defining the root share.

This share can be an existing share or a new share. If you type in a name for a new share, this share will be created for you. The share you define here will contain the links (or maps) to the user shares that will make up the root. Click Next and Finish to return to the DFS root management console snap-in. You should now see a screen similar to the one shown in Figure 6.

Figure 6Figure 6 The new root listing.

In the left pane, you can now see the root listed as the path to the root share using the DNS naming convention. Now it's time to add some links to this new root.

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020