Windows Server 2008: Windows Deployment Services - Can I use DFS for my images?

I was in a Windows Deployment Services (WDS) session the other day at TechEd 2009 and someone in the audience asked a question “Can you use Distributed File System (DFS) to store WDS Images?”

Great question, the answer is yes and no.

YES – You can install images on another server (not a Windows Deployment Services server) using DFS and still install the images by using Windows Deployment Services.

NO - You CANNOT redirect the boot directory (that is, \\<server>\reminst\boot) using DFS. If you do, Windows Deployment Services will not start.

What are the Advantages of Storing the Image Files in DFS?

DFS provides two advantages:

    1. Load balancing: Clients can be directed to computers other than the Windows Deployment Services server to download the image.

    2. Simplified administration: When you use DFS replication technology, you can modify images on a single server and propagate changes to other distribution points.

To configure DFS namespaces for install images:

  1. Install and configure Windows Deployment Services.

  2. Install the DFS role service from the File Services server role in Server Manager. For more information about DFS, see Distributed File System (

  3. Create a file share on a secondary server. Grant permissions to the Windows Deployment Services server’s computer account. For example, if the server is called MyWDSServer, grant read/write permissions to MyWDSServer$ .

  4. Create a new namespace in DFS Management. For example, \\fileserver\MyNamespace for a stand-alone namespace or \\\MyNamespace for a domain-based namespace.

  5. Add a new folder to the namespace and create an image group on the Windows Deployment Services server as the target folder. For example, create \\MyServerOrDomain\MyNamespace\ImageGroup in DFS Namespaces, and specify \\MyWDSServer\RemoteInstall\images\DFSImageGroupName as a target folder for that folder.

  6. Add images to the Windows Deployment Services server.

  7. Verify that the content appears when you connect to \\MyServerOrDomain\MyNamespace\ImageGroup.

  8. Repeat this procedure for additional image groups.