Understanding File Transfers in Networked Systems

File sharing is a critical aspect of networked systems, enabling multiple users to read, write, and alter files stored on a file server. Two common protocols used for file sharing are the Server Message Block (SMB) and the Network File System (NFS).

SMB and NFS: An Overview

SMB is typically used for file sharing between Windows machines, while NFS is used for file sharing between Unix/Linux systems. Both protocols allow for data transfers to occur in both directions, facilitating seamless collaboration and data exchange.

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CIFS vs NFS: 14 Key Differences Between These Protocols

Understanding File Transfers in Networked Systems

Scenario 1: Three Machines and Two Protocols

Consider a scenario where you have directories from machines 1 and 2 mounted on machine 3 over SMB.

The directory from machine 1 is also mounted on machine 2 over NFS.

You initiate a file transfer using Windows Explorer on machine 3, copying some files from machine 1 to machine 2.

In this setup, when you initiate the file transfer, the data would first be transferred from machine 1 to machine 3 (over SMB), and then from machine 3 to machine 2 (over SMB).

This is because Windows Explorer on machine 3 doesn’t know about the direct NFS link between machines 1 and 2.

Therefore, the files do not go directly from machine 1 to machine 2 over the network switch.

Instead, they first go from machine 1 to machine 3, and then from machine 3 to machine 2. This could potentially increase network traffic and reduce file transfer speed.

Scenario 2: TrueNAS Core Server, Linux Server, and Windows Desktop

In another scenario, you have a TrueNAS Core server (machine 1), a Linux server (machine 2), and a Windows desktop (machine 3).

The TrueNAS Core server is a powerful network-attached storage (NAS) operating system that supports both SMB and NFS protocols.

The Linux server can also support both SMB and NFS protocols for file sharing. The Windows desktop typically uses SMB for file sharing.

If you initiate a file transfer from the Windows desktop to copy files from the TrueNAS Core server to the Linux server, the data would typically first be transferred from machine 1 to machine 3 (over SMB), and then from machine 3 to machine 2 (also over SMB).

This is because the Windows desktop doesn’t know about any direct link between machines 1 and 2.

So again, in this typical scenario, the files do not go directly from machine 1 to machine 2 over the network switch. Instead, they first go from machine 1 to machine 3, and then from machine 3 to machine 2.

This could potentially increase network traffic and reduce file transfer speed.

Conclusion

The exact behavior of file transfers in these scenarios could vary based on specific network configurations and settings. However, understanding how these protocols work can help you optimize your network setup for efficient file transfers.

Jaspreet Singh
Jaspreet Singh

Hey! I'm Jaspreet Singh and I completed a degree in Bachelor of Computer Applications. I have 7+ years of experience in the Network & Security Domain as well as the Cloud Infra Domain. So I love to explore my technical knowledge with you.

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