December 6, 2010

Why are my folder shares not working on MS clustered servers?

Folder/File shares in MS clustered servers should not be done the same way as normal file shares.

Case in point: Few months back, I setup a pair of servers for MS cluster. Application team sent in some requests for folder sharing, which I did using the normal explorer method. On a few occasions, the application team had feedback that the shares were missing. When I went in to check, the folders were missing the "hand" icon to indicate they were shared. Everytime I reshared again, the application team will report the same issue a few days later.

It was puzzling to say the least. So I did some investigation and found that everytime the cluster active node fails over to the second node, the shares will be gone. So further research gave the answer - that file shares in clusters should be treated as a type of resource and should be done through "File Share" resource in Cluster Administrator.

Mystery solved and after implementing the file shares in Cluster Administrator, the issue never came back anymore.

Symptoms
  • Folder/File shares in clustered servers disappear, especially after a cluster failover between nodes
  • Issue persists even after folders are reshared




To resolve

Folder sharing for clustered servers should be done as a "resource" in Cluster Administrator, rather than the normal method of sharing. This is explained in the steps below:
  1. Go to Administrative Tools -> Cluster Administrator
  2. Type or Browse to find the cluster and open a connection to it
  3. Expand the Cluster -> expand "Groups" -> Right click on the group to add the file share -> New -> Resource
    (Cluster Group is used as an eg here but normally File Shares should not be put here)


  4. In the "New Resource" window
    • Specify a "Name" for the resource
    • Specify a "Description" for the resource (optional)
    • Select "File Share" from the "Resource Type" dropdown box
    • Ensure that the selected "Group" is correct and click "Next"


  5. In the "Possible Owners" window, ensure all the nodes are listed in the right side box and click "Next"





  6. In the "Dependencies" window, ensure the correct disk drive which contains the file share is selected and click "Next"
    (Disk Q is used as an eg here but normally Quorum Disks should not have any file shares)


  7. In the "File Share Parameters" window

    • Specify a "Share Name". This will be the shared name of the folder
    • Specify the absolute "Path" to the folder
    • Specify the "Comment" (optional)
    • Specify the "User Limit" (optional, default is Maximum allowed)
    • Specify the sharing "Permissions" as per request and click "Finish"

The folder will be listed as a "File Share" resource in the Cluster Administration and will remain even after cluster node swings.



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