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We worked with MS Professional Services to design an Windows Server 2016 file server replacement for our NAS. One of our concerns was if Windows Server could handle larger partitions in the 1-10 TB range. 

MS assured us that this would not be an issue and instructed us to create multiple server pairs using DFS Namespaces and DFS replication for redundancy.

Following their instructions and the documentation for DFS (which is quite short and simple), we created the (virtual) servers and partitions. The primary servers and the DFS Namespaces worked just fine (except for VSS, separate issue). However DFS Replication (DFSR) kept failing.

We contacted MS Premier support, who checked everything and said it was configured correctly and everything should be working. We created an additional test server with new partitions and it worked, until we populated it. Then DFS-R failed again, it would not complete replication. In some cases, it would not even start.

 

As long as the partition had under a couple thousand files, it was fine, but as soon as we populated it with the normal 100GB to 2TB of data (100,000 to 5,000,000 files), it completely and totally failed. MS support was unable to get it working despite 30-40 hours working with our tech. 

 

This also occurred with one of our sister entities who tried the same simple design, with much less data. They had it much worse, they started using the copied files expecting them to replicate. Since DFS was sending different users to different files in the server pairs, the files became badly out of sync. It is costing them hundreds of work hours to manually fix each paired file set. VERY painful and expensive.

 

At this point, it appears that DFS Replication is not Enterprise or business ready. It is not consistent or reliable, and fails very quietly, resulting in serious business impact. 

 

MS does not appear have any solutions to the issue. DFS-R simply cannot be depended on.

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