In computing, a file system or filesystem controls how data is stored and retrieved. Without a file system, information placed in a storage medium would be one large body of data with no way to tell where one piece of information stops and the next begins.

A distributed file system (DFS) or network file system is any file system that allows access to files from multiple hosts sharing via a computer network. This makes it possible for multiple users on multiple machines to share files and storage resources.

Distributed file systems differ in their performance, mutability of content, handling of concurrent writes, handling of permanent or temporary loss of nodes or storage, and their policy of storing content.

A DFS is a method of storing and accessing files based in a client/server architecture. Distributed file systems do not share block level access to the same storage but use a network protocol. These are commonly known as network file systems, even though they are not the only file systems that use the network to send data.

The difference between a distributed file system and a distributed data store is that a distributed file system allows files to be accessed using the same interfaces and semantics as local files.

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