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Network File Sharing vs. Common Internet File System

We want to implement Network File Sharing (NFS). What items do we need to consider while choosing NFS or Common Internet File System (CIFS)?

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When deciding on what type of a network attached storage (NAS) solution is best for your environment, it is important to understand how you will be using it. For example, if your application servers or clients are all Windows-based, CIFS may be the best approach. Likewise, if your clients are all UNIX or Linux-based, then NFS may be the better option, generally speaking.

If however, you have a mixed environment and you need to share data files between Windows and Linux, you should look at a solution that supports both NFS and CIFS, and also has shared concurrent access to a file. Most NAS storage systems today give you the choice and option of NFS and CIFS. Several also support iSCSI for block-based access, providing even more flexibility to meet different application needs. For example, you could use block iSCSI for Microsoft Exchange with CIFS for other files and NFS for home directories or web servers among other users. Also consider the current and future performance needs of your different applications, how much data needs to be stored, data protection requirements and if you need to support virus checking and other features.

This was first published in March 2008

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