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Saturday, April 20, 2024

File Server Migration (Share by Share) - Maintaining the UNC Namespace Using DFS

Learn how to use CopyRight2 to migrate a file server, share by share, while maintaining the UNC namespace using a DFS (Distributed File Services) server.

File Server Migration (Share by Share) - Maintaining the UNC Namespace Using DFS

This video demonstrates how to use CopyRight2 to migrate a file server, share by share, while maintaining the UNC namespace using a DFS (Distributed File Services) server.

In this example, there is an old Windows® ® 2008 R2 file server called "WIN2K8R2FS" and a new Windows® 2012 R2 file server called "WIN2K12R2FS". The old Windows® 2008 R2 server has two file shares, called "Data1$" and "Data2$". In the video you can see how the "Data1$" share is migrated to the target, while maintaining access to both shares using the original UNC path "\\WIN2K8R2FS\Data1$" and "\\WIN2K8R2FS\Data2$" is maintained at all times during the migration.

Migrating share-by-share is a possible solution, besides of other methods, like the realtime synchronization, if there is a lot of data to migrate while having only a short timeframe to perform the migration, at the expense of a higher complexity.

The first step in this migration is to set-up a DFS server on the target system. You can see how to install it, in the first segment of the video. The DFS server could be installed onto a 3rd computer as well.

The next step is to migrate the existing file shares of the source server onto the DFS server. The so-called referral path is, in this example, the original file server's name with an appended "-RT" for retired.

Once this step is completed, the source server's computer name gets the name "WIN2K8R2FS-RT" and is rebooted.

Next some changes are made to the registry of the DFS server to give it the source server's original NetBIOS and fully qualified DNS names as additional names. After this step, users can access all the file shares using the original server name through the DFS server.

Finally a copy job is run, to migrate "Data1$" to the target server. CopyRight2 will automatically update the DFS referral path for "Data1$" to the new location on the target server, once the share is successfully migrated. After the share is migrated, users can still access "Data1$" by using the UNC path "\\WIN2K8R2FS\Data1$", but now residing on the new server. They can also access the "Data2$" share, still residing on the 2008 server.

So, instead of having to migrate an entire server and all the shares, the migration can be split into smaller segments doing one share at a time.


Both servers are member servers in the same domain. The software is installed and run on the target system.

The source is running Windows 2008 R2 and the target Windows 2012 R2. If newer Windows versions were used, or if running it on the target, the same settings could be used. The source and the target could be NAS storage solutions as well. CopyRight2 supports NetApp, EMC, Hitachi, Synology and many other storage solutions.

You could also run a clustered DFS server if high availability is a concern, please check the user's manual for more information on how to use a clustered DFS server to maintain the UNC namespace.

Settings (Setup DFS)

Job Type
DFS Share Consolidation

Name and Description Page
Name: Setup DFS

Source and Destination Page
Source computer: WIN2K8R2FS
Destination computer: WIN2K12R2FS
Build the namespace by: using the original computer name (consolidation case)
Build the referral path by: appending the following suffix to the computer name
Suffix: -RT

Shares and Settings Page
Specific Shares: Data1$, Data2$

Settings (Data Migration Data1$)

Job Type
Data Migration

Name and Description Page
Name: Data Migration Data1$

Source and Destination Page

Source Destination
\\WIN2K8R2FS2-RT\C$\Data1 \\WIN2K12R2FS\C$\Data1

Synchronization: Add/Update/Delete

User and Group Filter Page
User accounts: Enabled (Add/Update)
Local groups: Enabled (Add/Update)

User and Group Options Page
Local group memberships: Enabled (Add/Remove)
Local group members: Enabled (Add/Remove)

File Shares Page
Include file shares located at specified folder(s) and below: Enabled (Add/Update)
Update DFS after share was migrated to new location: Enabled
DFS Server: WIN2K12R2FS


The settings used assume that no users are working while the migration takes place. If you want to use an approach with multiple passes (pre-copy/final copy) you additionally have to enable the "Ignore errors resulting from locked files" ("Error Processing" page) option for the pre-copy pass(es) to prevent errors from occurring because of locked files.

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