When you consolidate storage, you are, in essence, moving files and folders. Sounds simple enough, but you'll quickly learn that many of those files and folders are referenced by other applications elsewhere on the network. The references range from pathnames on users' machines to references embedded (sometimes hard-coded) into the applications themselves.
Untangling and replacing all these references can be a major headache. Fortunately, the new Microsoft File Server Migration Toolkit handles most of these changes automatically.
The toolkit uses the Universal Naming Convention (UNC) along with the Microsoft Distributed File System (DFS) to set up a server that automatically redirects paths referring to the old, unconsolidated environment to the proper locations in the new, consolidated environment.
In Windows, the UNC format is:
Since in most cases the share name, path and filename don't change, the only thing that has to change is the server name. Until the release of the File Server Migration Toolkit, the changes had to be made manually to update the network's file structure. You can still do it manually, and Microsoft provides instructions on how to do it in Knowledgebase Article 829885, "Distributed File System update to support consolidation roots in Windows Server 2003."
However, the DFS Consolidation Root Wizard in the toolkit performs the operation automatically. It establishes a server that automatically translates referrals for servers that no longer exist.
The major exceptions to the wizard's efforts are persistent drive mappings on the client system. The Consolidation Root Wizard does not change persistent drive mappings, so you need to delete and recreate them. Simply restarting the system will not affect the persistent mappings, although drives mapped through logon scripts are, of course, automatically updated at startup.
Rick Cook has been writing about mass storage since the days when the term meant an 80 K floppy disk. The computers he learned on used ferrite cores and magnetic drums. For the last 20 years he has been a freelance writer specializing in storage and other computer issues.