Implement BranchCache and DFS for a Branch Office

In this IT Pro Challenges guided lab, learners configure a distributed file system (DFS) and BranchCache in a network administrator role for a branch office. Setting up a shared file system in an optimized networked environment underlies crucial Cyber Operator, Information Systems Security Manager, and Network Operations Specialist activities.

45 minutes
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This guided virtual challenge shows learners how to configure a Windows distributed file system (DFS) and BranchCache for a network. Users gain hands-on experience with server administration best practices in installing server roles and testing fundamentals verifying correct implementation.

This lab, for beginners, runs 45-minutes to an hour and fifteen minutes, depending on the learner’s comfort level working with a Windows server environment and using PowerShell. Participants should plan on completing the virtual lab in one sitting as they cannot pause and return to work in progress. This challenge provides two subnets, DC1 and APP1, with servers to set up DFS and BranchCache functionality.

Learners run lab instructions using the Server Manager GUI, Command Module, and Windows PowerShell. System and Network Operation Administrators obtain confidence with these tools to set up and verify required computing environments. Successful configuration means that a user has the same access to folders in a domain namespace, regardless of machine location. These IT professionals need to know how to make small and large files, readily and quickly transferable by caching contents at a branch office. This virtual lab teaches how to do these servers and networking tasks.

Understanding the Scenario:

In this lab, you are a network administrator. You need to configure file replication across your network. First, you configure the distributed file system (DFS) namespaces. Next, you configure replication, and then you verify that a file was replicated successfully. Finally, you configure BranchCache. You verify that a large file is cached on the BranchCache server.

Configure DFS:

In this Lab Module, you create domain-based and secondary namespaces, with replication capabilities on two servers. Then you create a shared folder and a DFS replication group. You, then, check your work by logging in as a user, creating a text document, and verifying the file replicated, the same file exists in either namespace. You use Server Manager, throughout this exercise, to customize the settings.

Setting up a DFS, for a branch office with multiple sister offices in different locations, achieves two purposes. First, the DFS backups any files, ensuring they are secure and accessible in case of a server failure. Second, a DFS allows files to be shared by the same user regardless of what machine he or she uses and at what location the user sits. The DFS replication group synchronizes files and folders among the two servers and makes any document changes in harmony. Choosing a full mesh topography ensures that network traffic redirects in case of a failure.

Configure BranchCache:

You implement BranchCache for network files on a primary server and enable Hash Publication for BranchCache in Windows Server Manager. You use PowerShell to enable BranchCache on a hosted server, a different one. You then activate BranchCaching for a client machine, assigning an organizational user group policy to it. Then you verify BranchCache installation by using the ‘netsh’ command, copying a file, and using Performance Monitor.

A BranchCache optimizes network resources, so that contents on the Wide Area Network (WAN) get stored locally for quicker retrieval. Hash Publications generates hashes for any media stored folder. When a file has a hash, the client computer can determine access and ensure identical contents.


Upon completing this lab, learners know how to make a DFS with replicated and sync files in a domain-based namespace. Also, participants learn how to configure and enable BranchCache so that larger files can be transferred efficiently from any machine connected to a branch office.