Built into Windows® Server administrators have the opportunity to utilise the native DFS Replication capabilities for both branch office backup as well as inter-office file server mirroring. When file server mirroring is enabled, the goal is to provide file sharing for employees. This mechanism is far more efficient than emailing files amongst collaborative teams, especially if the files are large in size.

So what can you do to ensure that there are no version conflicts among multiple collaborative locations?

DFS lacks a central feature important for a collaborative environment where inter-office file servers are mirrored and data is shared: File Locking. Without integrated file locking, using DFS to mirror file servers exposes live documents to version conflicts. For example, if a colleague in Office A can open and edit a document at the same time that a colleague in Office B is working on the same document, then DFS will only save the changes made by the last person closing the file.

There is also another version conflict potential which arises even when the two colleagues are not working on the same file at the same time. DFS Replication can run with up to 16 threads, but even so synchronisation tasks are able to quite easily "queue" up and create a backlog. As a result changes made at one location are not immediately replicated to the other side. It is this time delay which creates yet another opportunity for file version conflicts to occur.

There are solutions to the problems.

The best and most complete way to eradicate version conflicts when utilising DFSR is to employ a true file locking solution. Such a solution needs to provide as a minimum, real-time detection of file use coupled with immediate remote locking. Such a solution is Peerlock®. This ensures that when a file is open at one location, all other versions are locked down, preventing anyone from opening and revising it. However, when the file closes, the file lock is immediately released and ready for synchronisation by DFSR in the normal way.

File locking for Microsoft® DFSR


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