May 14, 2011
I was asking around in some IRC channels earlier trying to develop some thoughts on how NFS is better than CIFS. I set up a FreeNAS file server, and that's where all of my data now resides on a pair of raided drives. That way my main desktop, which is kind of a power hog gaming rig, can be powered off since I pretty much live on my laptop now. Anyway, I began to tinker with CIFS and NFS. Since some family members in the household use Windows, I definitely need CIFS. But I wanted to bounce back to NFS too and check it out.
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While I do think it's nice I don't have to worry about authentication to the NAS box when using NFS, it's still a little scary. Being that it's more of a trust method instead of actual authentication, truthfully all a user needs to get into your data is the path to your NFS share and a matching UID. I mean, am I wrong by saying this? Sure, it may seem like NFS is convenient, but this angle of it is a little scary. I just don't feel like that screams "secure."
On the flip side, you have CIFS, which uses a user authentication level. So I hit my little shortcut to my NAS and it asks me who I am. I log in and bam, I have connection. I can browse other folders on the share, etc. This is convenient because I do have a "public" share on here with a generic user. That way if friends come over and want to transfer something to me, I have them drop it in the public share and I later transfer it accordingly. Since there is a user level authentication, this to me seems a little more secure.
Speed wise I was a little concerned, as some users have said NFS is faster than CIFS. Well, they might be right. But I did a few bench tests here on my laptop, using the same exact share except one with CIFS one with NFS. I stayed in the exact same location and transferred the same 300mb file in each instance.
NFS - 1.7mb/s
CIFS - 1.5/mb/s
Not exactly enough to warrant a huge argument over, so I leave that argument along the road to be forgot about since it doesn't really have any bearing on this situation. I like things about both NFS and CIFS. I just want to know why is it "not optimal" to use a full blown CIFS setup even if you're using 100% Linux systems.