distributed file system(dis-trib´ū-tid fīl sis´t&m) (n.) A method of storing and accessing files based in a client/server architecture. In a distributed file system, one or more central servers store files that can be accessed, with proper authorization rights, by any number of remote clients in the network. Much like an operating system organizes files in a hierarchical file management system, the distributed system uses a uniform naming convention and a mapping scheme to keep track of where files are located. When the client device retrieves a file from the server, the file appears as a normal file on the client machine, and the user is able to work with the file in the same ways as if it were stored locally on the workstation. When the user finishes working with the file, it is returned over the network to the server, which stores the now-altered file for retrieval at a later time.
Distributed file systems can be advantageous because they make it easier to distribute documents to multiple clients and they provide a centralized storage system so that client machines are not using their resources to store files.
NFS from Sun Microsystems and Dfs from Microsoft are examples of distributed file systems.
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