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What is DFS(Distributed File System)? DFS VS NAS

Updated on Friday, June 14, 2024

iBoysoft author Sherry Song

Written by

Sherry Song
Professional tech editor

Approved by

Jessica Shee

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Summary: Do you know the Distributed File System? It allows users to access data from any network or computer. Today, this post from iBoysoft will guide you into a brief introduction to DFS.

What is Distributed File System?


Distributed File System(DFS) is a network file system where files and folders are stored across multiple servers and made available to clients as if they were stored on a single disk.

A network of workstations and mainframes linked via a Local Area Network(LAN) constitutes a setup for a DFS. DFS Distributed File System provides a seamless way to access and manage files across a network, enhancing data availability and scalability.

Then we will explore how the Distributed File System works, its benefits and features, and the main usages.

How does Distributed File System work?

What is a Distributed File System? There are two parts to a Distributed File System: Location Transparency and Redundancy. They will work together to improve data availability by allowing the sharing of data coming from different places.

Distributed File System(DFS) works by spreading files across multiple servers in a network. Simply speaking, when a user accesses a file, DFS automatically determines which server holds that file and retrieves it for the user. This setup improves data availability and scalability and ensures that users can access files efficiently, even if one server goes down.

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Examples and benefits of Distributed File System

Let's move to the applications and benefits of DFS.

Examples of Distributed File System

Several implementations of DFS exist, including many fields:

Microsoft Distributed File System(DFS): It is integrated into Windows Server operating systems, allowing organizations to create a distributed file system using Windows servers.

Google File System(GFS): Developed by Google to handle large-scale distributed data-intensive applications, GFS is used internally by Google for various storage needs.

Network File System(NFS): Commonly used in Unix and Linux environments, NFS allows clients to assess data stored on remote servers, improving seamless file sharing and collaboration.

Apache Hadoop Distributed File System(HDFS): Part of the Apache Hadoop project, HDFS is a distributed file system designed to store and manage large datasets and is commonly used for big data processing and analytics.

Benefits of Distributed File System

Load balancing: DFS enables load balancing by distributing file access requests across multiple servers, which helps environments with high file access demands.

Centralized management: DFS provides centralized management of file resources, allowing users to easily organize and manage files across distributed servers from a single interface.

Scalability: DFS allows for easy scalability by distributing file storage across multiple servers. As the storage needs grow, additional servers can be added to the network without disrupting existing services.

Differences between DFS & NAS & SMB

Network Attached Storage(NAS), Distributed File System(DFS), and Server Massage Block(SMB) are all technologies used for file sharing and storage in networked environments, but they serve different purposes and operate at different levels of the IT infrastructure. Here are the key differences between NAS, DFS, and SMB:


NASStore and share files across the networkDedicated hardware with file system, operating system, and network interfaceThe management interfaces
DFSAccess resources across multiple servers and locationsA logic hierarchy or namespaceIntegrated into Windows
SMBRequest files from servers over the networkThe application layer of the OSI modelAdministrative tools provided by the operating system

In summary, NAS provides dedicated storage appliances for centralized file storage, DFS organizes distributed file resources into a unified namespace, and SMB facilitates file sharing and access between clients and servers over the network.

Moreover, NAS often relies on the SMB protocol for file sharing, whereas DFS can utilize various protocols, including SMB, NFS, and HTTP.

While they serve different purposes, they can complement each other to provide robust file-sharing and storage solutions in networked environments. Share it to help more ones.


Final words

Every coin has two sides, and so does the Distributed File System. By leveraging distributed storage and replication techniques, DFS provides a unified view of files and folders while mitigating the risks associated with single points of failure. But compared to NAS and SMB, it also has some weaknesses. Hope you can have a better judgment while choosing a suitable one.