What Is NFS (Network File System) and How Does It Work? [MiniTool Wiki]

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What Is NFS?

What is NFS? NFS is the abbreviation of the network file system. It is a file system mechanism that can store and retrieve data from multiple disks and directories through a shared network, which was developed by Sun Microsystems. The network file system enables local users to access remote data and files in the same way as local access.

Now, you can continue to read this post from MiniTool to get more information about the network file system.

How Does NSF Work

How does NSF work? To access the data stored on another machine (ie the server), the server will implement an NFS daemon to make the data available to the client. The server administrator determines what is available and ensures that it can identify authenticated clients.

On the client-side, the computer usually requests access to the exported data by issuing an installation command. If successful, the client computer can view the file system and interact with the file system within the determined parameter range.

Also see: 5 Reasons to Convert File System & 4 Ways to Change File System

Advantages of NSF

The following are the main advantages of NSF.

  1. Allows easy sharing of data between clients.
  2. Provide centralized management.
  3. Provide security, that is, only the server can be protected to protect the data.

Related article: 5 Ways to Protect Our Important and Valuable Data in Windows

Versions of NSF

Now. let’s see the versions of NSF.


NFSv2 is a standard protocol that has been followed for many years, and its purpose is to achieve simple and fast server crash recovery. This goal is crucial in a network architecture based on multiple clients and single servers, because the moment a server crashes means that all clients are unavailable. The entire system fails.


Soon after the release of NFS version 2, the first NFS version 3 recommendation was created in Sun Microsystems. The main motivation is to try to alleviate the performance problems of synchronous write operations in NFS version 2.

Although some vendors have added support for NFS version 2 and transport with TCP, Sun has added support for TCP because it has added support for version 3. It is more feasible to use TCP as a transport and use NFS at the same time to transport NFS over WAN, and allow more use. The large read and write transfer size exceeds the 8 KB limit specified by the user datagram protocol.

NFS Sv3 increased the following features:

  • Support 64-bit file size and offset to handle files larger than 2 GB.
  • READDIRPLUS operation used to get the filehandle and attributes and file name when scanning the directory.
  • Support asynchronous writing on the server to improve writing performance.
  • Other file attributes in many responses to avoid the need to retrieve them.


The fourth edition affected by the Andrew File System (AFS) and Server Message Block (SMB, also known as CIFS) includes performance improvements, requires strong security, and introduces a stateful protocol.

After Sun Microsystems handed over the development of the NFS protocol, version 4 became the first version developed by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). NFS version 4.1 aims to provide protocol support to take advantage of cluster server deployment, including the ability to perform scalable parallel access to files distributed among multiple servers (pNFS extension).

NFS version 4.2 has the following new features: server-side cloning and replication, application I/O recommendations, sparse files, space reservation, application data block (ADB), using sec_label marked as NFS can accommodate any MAC security system, And two new operations of pNFS (LAYOUTERROR and LAYOUTSTATS).

Compared with the previous version, a big advantage of NFSv4 is that only one UDP or TCP port 2049 is used to run the service, which simplifies the process of using protocols across firewalls.

Final Words

What is network file system? You may have found the answer in the post. Moreover, the advantages, versions, and working theory parts help you obtain a further understanding of NSF.

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