Aug 30, 2017

Simple Free Open Source Alternative to DFS

I am in the process of testing out VM's in Microsoft Azure. So far it's pretty bad ass, and there is so much you can do with it. It's truly remarkable, at least, that's my impression thus far.

One thing I want to do is setup file replication between servers so I can have a geographic active/active setup with front-end web servers. Now, Azure does have a cool feature called Read-Access Geo Redundant Storage that replicates your data at the block level to another region, and leaves that copy in a read only state. I have yet to find an option to have read-write in all regions though (If you know how to do it, let me know in the comments).

Anyway, I thought a good solution might be DFS (Microsoft's Distributed File System) which automatically syncs files to different servers. The problem with this is that it requires domain controllers and Active Directory, and I don't want to deploy domain controllers in Azure.

No problem, because I found what looks to be a simple and most importantly, free open source alternative to DFS! It's called FreeFileSync!

Check out their video:

As you can see, you can do a lot with it. I setup the folders I wanted to sync, set an interval to check for changes, and saved the settings to a .ffs_batch file. I then setup a scheduled task to kick off their RealTimeSync tool when the server reboots to run the following:

"C:\Program Files\FreeFileSync\RealTimeSync.exe" "D:\SyncFiles\FileSync.ffs_batch"

During testing, I have created files in all the directories I want to sync. I've updated them in one, and noticed the changes in the other. I've deleted files, and seen them delete on the other servers. It works great!

One thing I noticed, is that this needs to run on one single host for it to work right. If you need it to keep working if that host goes down, I'd recommend setting up the scheduled task on all nodes, and just leave them disabled unless the primary goes down for some reason.

Also note, that it isn't instant. If you make a change in one folder, it does take a few seconds to sync to the other folder.

Anyway, it was super simple to setup and it just works. It also works on Linux and iOS as well!

What do you use to sync files between servers? Let us know in the comments!

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