Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between NFS and Samba

nfs_bookNFS vs Samba

Network File System (also known as NFS) is a protocol developed by Sun Microsystems. It allows a user on a computer to access files that are sent across a network – similar to the way one accesses local storage. It is most common in systems with a similar composition to the UNIX system; however, it is also readily available for other systems, such as Mac OS, OpenVMS, Microsoft Windows, Novell NetWare, and IBM AS/400.

Samba is a re-implementation of SMB/CIFS networking protocol (meaning a re-imaging of Server Message Block – or Common Internet File System). As with the NFS, Samba runs most naturally on a system with qualities not unlike those of the UNIX systems. It comes standard with almost every distribution of Linux, and is used as a basic system service on all other UNIX-based systems.

NFS has a number of variations: The original NFS version was used strictly for in-house experimentation. Once changes were added to this protocol, version two was released. NFSv2 was originally operated completely over the UDP (that is the User Datagram Protocol, which is one of the core members of the Internet Protocol Suite). The purpose of running it completely over the UDP was to keep the protocol stateless (that is, a server that treats every request sent over it as a transaction independent from any previous request). NFSv3 was a response to the increase in transport-layer protocol. NFSv4 included improvements to performance and strong mandated security. It is also the first version to include a stateful protocol (that is, a protocol with a complete set of properties transmitted to an observer through an object via one or multiple channels).

Samba also has multiple versions. The latest permutations allow file and print sharing between multiple computers that operate via Windows and/or UNIX. It implements dozens of services, and about 12 protocols. Samba also allows networking sharing for certain UNIX directories (including their subdirectories). For those who use Microsoft Windows, these appear to be normal Windows folders that are accessible through the network. Those who use UNIX have the option of either mounting (that is, to make their file systems ready to use) the network sharing directly via their own file structure or using a utility.


1. NFS is a protocol that allows a user to access files over a network; Samba is essentially a re-imaging of the Common Internet File System.

2. NFS has four versions, the newest of which includes a stateful protocol; Samba has multiple versions, the latest of which allows file and print sharing between multiple computers.

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