Difference Between NFS and CIFS

Difference Between NFS and CIFS

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Rashmi Karan
Manager - Content
Updated on Jan 16, 2023 15:59 IST

The article discusses NFS and CIFS protocols and covers the difference between NFS and CIFS.


NFS full form is Network File System, while CIFS stands for Common Internet File System. NFS and CIFS are protocols allowing client systems to view and access files stored on a remote device, such as a server or a PC. The main difference between NFS and CIFS is that NFS allows sharing remote files between servers, while CIFS allows accessing the files over the network. The NFS and CIFS/SMB protocols can work with any operating system and hardware. However, NFS is more commonly implemented on Linux and Unix systems, while CIFS/SMB is typically used with Windows. This article will cover the major differences between NFS and CIFS.

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What is NFS?

Sun Microsystems introduced NFS, which is used by Unix or Linux-based operating systems and stands for Network File System. NFS offers remote access capabilities to applications. Users can repair old files even when away from their computers. This protocol provides devices with the functionality to modify data on a network.

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What is CIFS?

CIFS stands for Common Internet File System. CIFS allows multiple platforms, such as Windows, Linux, or macOS, to connect remotely. It is a dialect of the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol that most storage systems use today, beginning with implementations in Windows 2000. Microsoft changed CIFS and SMB1 and used the same dialect identifier, Windows NT LAN Manager (NTLM) 0.12.

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Definition Used for devices running on UNIX or LINUX operating systems Used for remote actions that work on Windows operating systems
Communication Better than CIFS Creates a mess to communicate
Support  Preferably supports UNIX or LINUX. Preferably supports Windows OS.
Session resource No  Yes 
Port protocols NFS server – Port 111 (TCP and UDP) 2049 (TCP and UDP).Cluster and client status (Port 1110 TCP and 1110 UDP)NFS lock manager (Port 4045 TCP and UDP). 139 and 455 for TCP Ports   137 and 138 for UDP Ports 
Speed ​​and scalability Highly scalable and faster than CIFS. Low scalability and moderate speed.
Implementation Simple to implement and fast query execution. Difficult to implement and configure for failures.
Safety Unreliable and has no special security. More security features than NFS.
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Why CIFS/SMB1 is Outdated?

CIFS is now considered outdated because it applies to operating systems that Microsoft no longer supports and most modern data storage systems use the more robust Server Message Block (SMB) 2.0 and 3.0 file-sharing protocols. SMB1 has not been used since Microsoft discontinued support for Windows 2000.

CIFS/SMB1 sometimes required file protocol optimization over a WAN. SMB1 was designed for users accessing files and applications on small LANs in the 1980s and 1990s. Microsoft modernized and rewrote most SMB codebases, beginning with Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008.

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SMB2 offers the more secure user access to files and applications and ensures greater efficiency and performance over large WANs and LANs. SMB3 was developed for blockchain infrastructure workloads in modern data center scale over remote direct memory access networks and highly secure file access scenarios.

NFS evolved and became more similar to SMB by adding asynchronous writes to the server to improve interpretation, access control lists, and a new version of file locks. NFSv4.2 is stateful in contrast to earlier versions of NFS, designed for use in implementations where the server did not need to maintain any client state to function.

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NFS still manages server reboots and recovers state to allow continued use for ongoing data-related applications.

NFSv4 and SMB3 are similar in functionality, given the evolution of the protocols. However, NFS will likely continue to be used in Linux environments, while SMB will be for Windows.

About the Author
Rashmi Karan
Manager - Content

Rashmi is a postgraduate in Biotechnology with a flair for research-oriented work and has an experience of over 13 years in content creation and social media handling. She has a diversified writing portfolio and aim... Read Full Bio