Stands for "Network File System." NFS is a protocol used to access files over a network. It was developed by Sun Microsystems and introduced in 1989. The protocol is platform-independent, meaning it works across multiple operating systems and network configurations.

While "file system" makes up two-thirds of the NFS acronym, the Network File System is not an actual file system like NTFS or APFS. Instead, it is a protocol that provides standard commands for accessing files from network-based storage locations. It is built on the RPC protocol and uses remote procedure calls to access files.

Examples of NFS commands include:

  • NFSPROC_LOOKUP() - find files based on the filename
  • NFSPROC_READ() - read from a file
  • NFSPROC_WRITE() - write to a file

NFS can mount shared files in a local directory, allowing client systems to access remote data as a local folder. The client can traverse subdirectories, look up file permissions, and read, write, and create files. NFS translates the file paths and file commands to work with the corresponding file system.

NOTE: NFS is an open standard, meaning any developer can add Network File System support to an application. However, in order for NFS to function, both the server and client systems must support NFS.

Updated February 10, 2020 by Per C.

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