Domainbased DFS roots vs standalone DFS roots

DFS supports two types of DFS roots: standalone and domain-based. Domain-based DFS roots integrate with the Active Directory and provide replication of the DFS topology across the domain (but not replication of folders unless you specifically configure them for replication). A domain-based DFS root must be hosted on a domain member server. The DFS's topology is automatically published to the AD to provide access to all users in the domain (and in trusted domains), subject to their access permissions.

Standalone DFS roots do not integrate with the AD and therefore do not provide the replication offered by domain-based DFS. Standalone roots are limited to a single root target, whereas domain-based roots support multiple root targets. You can create a maximum of 10,000 DFS links in a standalone root and 5,000 DFS links in a domain root.

Note There is no explicit limitation on the number of levels that each target can have within its host share. The root only contains pointers to the shares, and those shares can contain essentially any number of subfolders. However, you are subject to the Windows Server 260-character limit for pathnames.

As mentioned previously, you can create root targets to replicate a DFS root from one computer to another. You can only do this within the framework of a domain-based DFS root. You cannot create root targets of standalone DFS roots. However, you can create a domain-based DFS root on any member server in a domain. The server need not be a domain controller.

As with replicas in a DFS link, there is no guarantee that a given root replica is an exact copy of another. Creating a root replica does not provide any means of folder replication or synchronization — it simply creates a logical relationship between roots on two or more servers that are referenced by the same name in the DFS namespace. You must configure that replication and synchronization separately to ensure that users see the same content regardless of the server to which they connect.

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