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File Locking . September 14, 2023

What Isn’t DFS-R Doing For You?


The distributed file system replication (DFS-R) is a free tool that companies build into their file management technology stack. It doesn’t take long to figure out that DFS-R isn’t working how it is critically needed. IT leaders conclude they need to find something more robust, but first, they must answer a vital question: what isn’t DFS-R doing for them?

In this piece, we look at three different areas where DFS-R struggles to keep up.


DFS-R is capable of synchronizing files. The commonly used Microsoft tool replicates data using one multi-way algorithm, which can’t be changed. Additionally, new versions of DFSR allow for configuring a “read-only” one-way rule. The only way to obtain that functionality is to upgrade the server operating system. 

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Contrast that against a managed file transfer solution, or MFT. An MFT, like our SureSync MFT, offers various synchronization rules, including one-way and multi-way rules. This gives users much more flexibility over data synchronization.

File Locking

To understand the importance of file locking, one must understand a “multiple update.” A multiple update occurs when two users, on two different servers, modify the same file at the same time before the first change can be synchronized. This results in two different versions of the same file existing in the environment.

The DFS-R solution handles “multiple updates” in different ways. As an example, it selects the newest file and overwrites the other version. This results in a data loss scenario. The older change is lost due to being replaced by the newer version. DFS-R will store a copy of the conflict in a special hidden folder but an administrator would still need to manually merge the changes.

SureSync MFT’s file locking function minimizes the “multiple updates” issue.

When a user opens a file, the MFT will lock all other copies on the other machines involved in the synchronization. If a different user tries to open that same file, they will receive read only access. Once the original user saves and closes the file, the MFT will synchronize the copy to the other machines and then release the lock. At that point, the file will be available for write access in all locations again.


DFS-R offers throttling, but again, in a “one size fits all” manner that may not meet a company’s needs. DFS-R throttles bandwidth usage on a per-connection basis with a fixed throttle. However, it does not perform “bandwidth sensing” to change throttling based on changing network conditions. 

An MFT solution is more advanced. It provides users with more throttling control.

SureSync MFT, for example, offers multiple types of throttles. Bandwidth usage can be throttled using a fixed QoS style throttle, such as using 1Mbps of bandwidth. The solution also offers a more advanced throttle called dynamic throttling. In this case, the bandwidth usage is based on a percentage of bandwidth available. In addition, SureSync MFT allows you to throttle the number of active file copies and the disk utilization percentage on a particular machine. The benefit of these types of throttles is that it gives administrators excellent, granular control over the synchronization and doesn’t overwhelm the network.

To learn about the advantages of SureSync MFT, check out our full DFS versus MFT comparison.

Other Areas

Other users report additional disadvantages with DFS solutions including:

  • Security concerns
  • Data lost during transfer
  • Complicated database connections and database handling
  • Node overloading

As you can see, SureSync MFT provides a much more powerful and comprehensive feature set when compared to DFS-R. The solution allows users to take advantage of multiple rule types. Administrators can select scheduled or real-time automation as appropriate for the specific Job. SureSync MFT also provides an extensive suite of advanced options including delta copies (copying the changed portion of a file), compression, encryption, bandwidth throttling, open file support, detailed logging, email alerts, real-time synchronization status, file locking, and more. 

Taking advantage of these advanced features makes the synchronization process faster and more reliable while allowing for finer administrator control compared to DFS-R. 

Ready to switch from DFS-R to MFT? Get started with a free trial