NFS vs CIFS: Difference and Comparison

The full form of NFS is a network file system, whereas CIFS is the common internet file system.

NFS helps avail a user to closely observe or edit on another computer through the network from a computer.

But CIFS helps the user to access another computer that is connected to the same server as the computer.

Key Takeaways

  1. NFS (Network File System) is a UNIX-based protocol for sharing files across networks.
  2. CIFS (Common Internet File System) is a Windows-based protocol known as SMB for file and resource sharing.
  3. Both protocols enable file sharing between computers, with NFS being more common in UNIX environments and CIFS in Windows environments.


NFS is a protocol used primarily in UNIX and Linux environments. It allows a remote user to mount a file system over a network and access it as if it were a local file system.  CIFS is a file-sharing protocol developed by Microsoft and is primarily used in Windows-based systems.


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Network File System(NFS) was outlined by Sun Microsystems in 1984.

It’s a structured agreement of files, enabling the operator to retrieve documents and files over the web from another device which is similar to the process of accessing limited storage files.

Everyone can execute the protocol as NFS is an open standard.

Common Internet File System (CIFS) has been adapted for usage over the web.

This is a general version of SMB (Server Message Block), which has mainly been designed for sharing file protocols over an internet connection.

CIFS allows users of various groups to share and collaborating information and documents within a combined network.

Comparison Table

Parameters Of ComparisonNFSCIFS
NFS is a concordat used for transferring files. It also provides an excessive evaluation in terms of commuting speed.

CIFS is utilized for non-deviated arrangements. Generally, CIFS’s transferring of files is dependent on NetBios over the protocols namely IP and TCP.
DefinitionNetwork file system, also wedged as NFS is largely used and operated on LINUX or UNIX types of operating systems.The Common internet file system(CIFS) has been developed for generating restricted acquiring of ‘Windows’ type operating systems.
Port Protocols
The number of port protocols required by NFS is 111. This is applicable for both the ports UDP as well as TCP.
By CIFS, the ports required for TCP are 139 and 445 whereas for UDP 137 and 138 ports are required.

NFS is solely used for sharing files as well as documents over Linux and Unix and it also provides assemblies.
CIFS type of protocol allows sharing of files as well as documents over Windows and it does not provide any session.
Installation of NFS is easy and simple and is very user-friendly because of the commands which are provided, thereby simplifying its execution.
The layout of CIFS is very complicated. Also, there is a big difficulty in recognition of any kind of lagging in the protocol.

What is NFS?

The Network File System, or NFS, was founded by Sun Microsystems. The network was used vastly by operating systems that are based on Linux or Unix.

The applications are provided with remote access capabilities with this network’s help.

The computer owned by the user can be closely examined or viewed by the user from another computer with the help of this remote access.

Remote access also avails the user to edit on his computer from another computer.

For instance, if the old file has the possibility of getting damaged or is already damaged, then it can be repaired by the user from another computer at a distance.

This protocol or network enables the user to make a change or improvise on his computer with the help of just a network.

As compared to the communication in CIFS, NFS can provide better communication. It does not provide a feature for sessions.

The scalability and speed of NFS are greater than that of CIFS.

What is CIFS?

The Common Internet File System or the CIFS is considered to be a Windows-based network that is sharing the file. The network can work on devices that function on Windows OS.

Microsoft’s invention of Server Message Block was made as a public version with the introduction of CIFS. This characteristic is able to share several devices or printers with the device.

It also enables the device to share several ports for the administration and user.

Once a computer is linked with a server, this feature helps the user to access that computer’s files through another computer.

It makes a request for accessing the file beforehand that is served by the server as an answer to the client requesting to access the files.

The CIFS helps large data companies to work with its feature of availing data to multiple users or employees in the company situated at multiple locations.

CIFS is most likely to develop confusion or complications during communication. It has the feature for providing sessions and contains a greater number of security features.

Main Differences between NFS and CIFS

  1. NFS is vastly used as a concordat to transfer files, and CIFS transfers files based on the NetBios on top of IP and TCP protocols.
  2. NFS is vastly used or applied in UNIX or LINUX operating systems. On the other hand, CIFS is vastly based on Windows OS to generate its functions.
  3. NFS is solely applied during file or document sharing in Linux or Unix, whereas CIFS is used in Windows for the same purpose but fails to provide sessions.
  4. NFS is affiliated with easier installation and execution for the user, but CIFS is considered to be complicated and lagging in the protocol is recognized with huge complications.
  5. NFS needs 111 port protocols for either UDP or TCP, whereas CIFS needs 139 and 445 ports for UDP or 137 and 138 ports for UDP.

Last Updated : 11 June, 2023

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