As the question says. There's a lot of threads around on NFS vs. Samba/SMB, but a lot of them are outdated or refer to old security models, or just give a one-line "use SMB with Windows".

Both modern Windows clients and modern *nix file servers can handle both of NFS or SMB/Samba. Whichever protocol is chosen, one will be using a "native" protocol and the other won't. So in mixed environments (*nix server/Windows clients) it's not as simple as "for X use Y".

So I'm interested in actual pros, cons and experience. The few threads I can find that cover modern incarnations of these protocols suggest as possible differences:

  • Threading? - Samba is single threaded (for example FreeNAS forum posts suggest that a single core at higher speed is better than multi-core for Samba serving Windows clients, for this reason). So presumably during congested periods or with high or complex levels of demand or locking/unlocking activity, this might be a factor;

  • Single file performance? - some threads suggest NFS is more efficient or serves faster with smaller files <= a few MB (which is many/most of them?) and comparable for larger files.

  • Security? - some threads suggest that NFS doesn't implement as effective a security model as SMB, or at least hasn't historically.

What's the current state of play on this for a modern *nix file server with Windows 8.1/10 x64 clients, if NFS is also enabled on the clients?

1 Answer 1


CIFS support is not that great on some UNIX. AIX crashes like this come to mind but it also isn't great at POSIX for *nix clients like some apps expect.

Some NAS appliances can export the same shares as NFS and CIFS. Your assumption that you must pick one is not necessarily true.

  • Interesting. Hadn't heard about crash issues, only (possibly) performance/security. But I think the assumption of picking one does seem correct, because for any given *nix server + Win client setup with file shares active, they'll either be using NFS or Samba/SMB, they won't use both simultaneously.
    – Stilez
    Apr 9, 2016 at 13:25

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