File Replication for Windows Servers
Microsoft has a long-lasting line of products to provide file replication between windows servers. The mechanism of replicating files for a distributed file system allows building a responsive file system with fast local access to files on Windows servers. Replication is an essential part of a Distributed File System (DFS) to ensure changes to one file are readily accessible to other team members on different servers.
Microsoft offers three products that try to address DFS replication, but all of them have downsides and limitations:
- File Replication Service (FRS) was introduced in Windows 2000 to replicate the System Volume (SYSVOL) directory across several servers. It is a multi-master, multi-threaded replication engine that isn’t very efficient, since any time a file changes, it replicates the complete file instead of limiting the replication to only the changed blocks.
- Distributed File System Replication (DFSR or DFS-R), introduced in Windows 2008 replaces FRS as the default replication engine. DFS-R had many improvements over FRS including the introduction of block-level replication using Remote Differential Compression (RDC). Unfortunately, DFS-R has many limitations which are mentioned in the table below or in detail in this blog post about DFSR alternatives.
- Azure File Sync is a cloud-native replication service introduced in 2017 that allows you to replace or extend on-premise DFS-R to the Azure cloud.
Choosing the right transition from FRS to DFSR
As FRS support has been removed from newer versions of Server 2016, you have several migration options available if you are still running FRS (and many are).
While DFSR technology is still supported by Microsoft, its successor Azure Files Sync, has already been released. It is only a matter of time before DFSR will face end-of-life by Microsoft. While DFSR is a vast improvement over FRS, it still has an extensive list of known issues including general unreliability, unreliable speed of replication and a lack of visibility around the replication progress. Therefore, most companies chose not to migrate to DFSR.
Migrate to Azure File Sync
Azure File Sync represents the latest replication solution from Microsoft, but it also has many limitations including the required use of the Azure cloud. See the table below to see the other limitations and whether or not it can address your requirements.
Migrate to Resilio Connect
Resilio Connect gives you the best features of Azure File Sync without the immediate need to introduce Azure Cloud to your infrastructure or applications. It is much faster and more reliable than DFS-R and offers significantly better visibility into the replication process. As a migration option, Resilio Connect offers maximum performance for Windows Server replication and gives you the ability to extend the solution to any cloud provider, or multiple cloud providers when the time is right.
The table below gives you an overview of the replication features.
|Smart error recovery||✔|
|10 Gbps replication speed||✔|
|Bandwidth scheduler||✔||✔ (CLI)|
|Cloud not required||✔||✔|
|Internet not required||✔||✔|
Learn more about Resilio Connect’s FRS, DFSR and Azure File Sync Replacement solution and how much faster and more reliable it can be. Or, schedule a demo or start a free trial to see for yourself.