What Is NFS? Understanding the Network File System

A Network File System or NFS is necessary for helping your business share files over a network. An NFS is a protocol that lets users on client computers access files on a network. You can access remote data and files from anything that links to the network you will use. All people within a network will have access to the same files, making file-sharing efforts easier.
The NFS protocol has been evolving since Sun Microsystems first introduced it in 1984. It continues to change today, as it is an open standard solution where anyone can implement the protocol and adjust it as necessary.

 

The General Concept

 

An NFS uses a basic system where a “mount” command will prompt the server to link with many clients. The clients will get access to the same files on the server through the proper platform. The design can use security protocols to dictate who will access certain files, producing a simplified and safe approach to work.

 

An NFS can also use a file locking system that allows many clients to share the same files. The NFS can manage multiple application or compute threads for operation.
The NFS uses several hosts that will access the same files. It does not require one application for its operation, providing a simple design for handling the content one will read.

 

How Does the NFS Work? A Look At the Three Versions

 

The way how the NFS works will vary based on whatever version you use. You’ll find three NFS versions for use today, with each having different standards for how it will operate.

 

NFS version 2 (NFSv2)

 

NFSv2 is the oldest format and is the most widely supported one you can use. It operates with the User Datagram Protocol or UDP through an IP network. The IP network allows for a stable network connection.

 

The UDP on this setup does not formally produce a connection before it can start transferring data. The feature is convenient, as it makes it easier for connections to work in less time. But the UDP clients can keep sending requests for a server even when the server is not functioning.

 

NFS version 3 (NFSv3)

 

NFSv3 supports asynchronous writes, which allow the server to dictate the right policies for synchronizing data. The data will be synchronized before a command to commit to managing the data is established. The design produces better buffering when compared with NFSv2.

 

NFSv3 can also handle errors more effectively and will manage more massive files. It can handle 64-bit file sizes, meaning a user can access about 2 GB of file content on average.

 

NFS version 4 (NFSv4)

 

NFSv4 is the most recent version of the NFS protocol you can use. It can work on the internet and through firewalls. It does not require an rpcbind service, making it easier to run in more places.
The Transmission Control Protocol or TCP works in this NFS format. The TCP links between an application and an IP. It keeps tabs on segments of data and only needs to receive the lost frames in the TCP set when something has to be sent for a second time.

 

The server will also accept TCP port 2049 commands. This port is one of the more commonly-used ports you will find on the market. It does not have to interact with daemons like the rpcbind and lockd options.

 

What Services Are Necessary?

 

You will require a few services to make an NFS file system work:

 

  • nfs – The nfs service will start the server and the RPC processes necessary for accepting shared systems.
  • nfslock – The nfslock service starts the RPC processes and allows NFC clients to lock files.
  • portmap – You can take port reservations from local services with this one. portmap will respond to messages stating that certain ports are available for file access.

 

Other Services You Can Use

 

You can also program a few other services for an NFS setup:

 

  • rpc.mountd – You can start with a process that receives mount requests and confirms that a computer can reach the NFS files one wishes to access.
  • rpc.nsfd – You can define specific NFS versions and protocols for the server to support here.
  • rpc.lockd – Files are easy to lock on the server with this command.
  • rpc.statd – The Network Status Monitor protocol will start with this command. It will notify clients when a server restarts, plus it ensures the server stays online without possibly being shut down.

 

What Makes An NFS Useful?

 

You’ve got many positives surrounding an NFS to explore:

 

  • Everyone in your network can access the same files when they become clients on the same NFS.
  • The mounting process for the file system remains transparent, giving clients an idea of how they can handle the content you manage.
  • The NFS may be more secure, as you won’t have as many removable drives and disks on hand.
  • Multiple computers can share the same applications. They don’t have to use excess disk space, plus they don’t have to store things as often.
    Are There Any Concerns?

 

There are a few drawbacks to the NFS to notice:

 

  • A firewall is necessary for running an NFS to keep unwanted parties from entering. Any NFS that does not use this protection will be at risk of harm.
  • It may be tough for multiple parties to access a file at the same time, especially if the file is more massive in size.
  • Some protocols allow for up to 1 MB of data to move in each read or write request. While today’s protocols can handle immense amounts of requests, the 1 MB standard may be too weak.

 

A Useful Solution

 

An NFS can be necessary when you’re trying to get files out to more people in your network. Be sure you see how an NFS can work if you need assistance in making your network and your file contents more visible to everyone in your business.