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What is a distributed file system?

A distributed file system is a physically distributed implementation of the classical time-sharing model of the traditional file system, allowing users to manipulate, organize, and share data seamlessly, regardless of its actual location on the network.

Distributed file system

A distributed file system resides on different machines and/or sites, and offers a unified, logical view of data scattered across machines/sites, whether local or remote.


Metadata in object storage systems can be augmented with custom attributes to handle additional file-related information. Doing so with a traditional storage system would require a custom application and database to manage the metadata (these are known as “extended attributes”).

The benefits

What are the benefits of a distributed file system?

  • Multi-user, local/remote file sharing
  • Unified and consistent view of shared folders/resources
  • Data access transparency and location independence
  • Data availability, even upon server or disk drive failures
  • Improved File Availability, Access Time, and Network Efficiency
  • Efficient Load Balancing and File Location Transparency
  • Increased Scalability and Interoperability
  • Increased Security and Administrative Flexibility

Examples of DFS

  • NFS
  • Hadoop
  • NetWare

Did you know?

Scality RING offers both a file and object storage solution. Why does it matter to have both?

  • It allows for future-proofing of your storage infrastructure: native file access is available to your current enterprise applications right away, while you have the option to switch to object access whenever your cloud-enabled applications require that along the way, on your own terms and on your own timeline.
  • Scality’s native file access is layered on top of an underlying object store, so it inherits the performance, scalability, and flexibility attributes Scality is known for.

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