Difference Between NFS and Samba (With Table)

There are numerous file-sharing network protocols based on their operating systems. To be more precise, NFS is accessible to all and sundry. However, Samba helps to be accessed only by Windows and Unix users to share files over a network. Making computer files available to other users of a network, specifically, the unauthorized sharing of music and video through the internet is termed file sharing and which has been common nowadays. 

NFS vs Samba

The difference between NFS and samba is that NFS is a network file system protocol, which allows access to a client’s computer as if they are local storage files. Moreover, it is open to the implementation of this protocol by anybody. On the other hand, Samba is a software tool for Windows and Unix users to share files across the network. 

NFS is an abbreviation of Network file-sharing protocol. It was developed by SunMicrosystems in 1984. Its discovery is to allow passage to the user to get on its client’s network in a way to get access to their files. The NFS enables users to access file systems over a network, as like theirs, moreover, centralizing them on the network for open evaluation.   

Whereas the Samba is a networking tool for Windows and Unix users to transfer as well as access files and other printer services. It is developed by Andrew Tridgell based on the SMB (Server Message Block) and CIPS (Common Internet File System) networking protocols. Over and above, it is oftentimes used to set files from Windows on Linux systems. 

Comparison Table Between NFS and Samba

Parameters of Comparison NFSSamba
Meaning Network File System is an open standard to access files on a network that allows anyone to operate the protocol like sharing, video playing, recording etc. Samba acts as an intermediate, such like, it is a software that helps the user get access to their client’s files through a network, alongside sharing printers services. 
Introduced Network File System has initially made its debut in the year 1980, under the development of Sun Microsystems.  Samba was started by Tridgell, following the SMB protocols, in 1992. 
PlatformsNFS has been accessed by users through Unix Operating systems, Apple macOS, Linus, Microsoft Windows, and many other computer networks.  Samba supports Windows, Linux, and Unix systems. 
Versions NFS has four versions; NFSv2, NFSv3, NFSv4, and one at the time of development. Samba has over twenty-one versions, starting with its number 3.0 to 4.14. Although, three versions are still up in the air for their release. 
BenefitsNFS is a low-cost protocol system. NFS allows users to access on client’s computer, just like accessing local files. NFS is an open standard, which reduces the storage of interloped files and intensifies securities.  It is the best sharing tool for Windows and Unix system users. It is often termed as a recognised tool among technical teams for sharing file and printer systems between server and client. Moreover, it is free software with the authentic implementation of files through the network.  

What is NFS?

The network file system is a protocol that aids the user to access their client’s files on the network, such as they access theirs. Originally, it was developed in the 80s by Sun Microsystems to allow anyone to implement the protocol. Its mechanisms include the entree to XYZ’s file system over a network. Moreover, it is one of several distributed file system standards for (NAS) network-attached storage. As of now, there are four versions of NFS, such as NFSv2, NFSv3, NFSv4. 

Initially, the Sun company used version 1 for in-house experiments. On the other hand, NFS v2 uses both TCP and UDP protocols, while UDP is for the prerequisite of stateless network connections among the clients and servers. 

Secondly, the NFS v3 bolsters 64-bit file sizes and offsets, enabling clients to access more than 2Gb of file data. In addition, it uses both UDP and TCP protocols akin to the former Lastly, NFS v4 operates through firewalls and on the Internet, no longer requires service, supports ACLs, and utilizes stateful operations. However, it only uses TCP protocols. 

It is used mostly in Unix operating systems, Apple’s macOS, Linux, and others. 

What is Samba?

On the other hand, Samba is a software that provides users to transfer files, print services over the network. It was originally developed by Andrew Tridgell in 1992, based on the SBM networking protocol. It is used by various Microsoft Windows and Unix-like systems’ clients. Its trademark is from SBM, while the name is derived from the Unix command grep.

It is written in C, and Python language, and over twenty-one versions have been officiated. It runs on Unix systems, enabling a Unix system to move into Windows ne5wor without hindrances. It includes protocols and services such as NetBIOS, SBM, WINS, SAM, NTLM, and so on.

It uses only the OS/2 Operating system and SBM protocol to assist client-server, thereby sharing or assessing files, printer sharing, and other services. It is available on PC as well as other hardware devices besides Windows. 

Main Differences Between NFS and Samba

  1. NFS is a file-sharing protocol that enables the users to access their clients’ files through a network, while Samba is a software that enables not only sharing of files but also sharing of printers. 
  2. NFS is widely used between Unix as well as Linux platforms, whereas Samba can be accessed by users from different networks, such as Unix to Windows, or within its network. 
  3. NFS shares all types of file systems on the network. Meanwhile, Samba could share only Linux files to the Windows network. 
  4. NFS is not a proven protocol through the technical world, while Samba is. 
  5. NFS mostly uses UDP protocol to provide a stateless network connection between a client and server. On the other hand, Samba follows the SMB(Server Message Block) protocol for its function. 


Having that said, NFS, as well as Samba, are both file-sharing protocols over a network between the clients and server. While one is the directive protocol to share files between only Unix or Linux systems, whereas the latter is a Linux implementation of SMB of sharing printers plus files from different systems; for instance, from Linux to Windows and vice versa. 


  1. https://books.google.co.in/books?hl=en&lr=&id=YwsMifqQp70C&oi=fnd&pg=PR5&dq=NFS+meaning&ots=k0Ef7kor4d&sig=tanXyMvAMj1VMjwxbHAOTMu-fDg
  2. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/9203750/
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