CIFS: Explained in 6 Easy Points


The Common Internet File System (CIFS) is also known as Server Message Block (SMB), a network protocol used to share data through a local area network (LAN). A client will access files as if they were on a local machine, thanks to the protocol. Read, write, build, erase, and rename operations are all supported; the only exception is that the files are stored on a remote server rather than on the local disc.

In this article let us look at:

  1. CIFS vs NFS
  2. CIFS vs SMB
  3. Protocol Features
  4. Uses
  5. How Does Common Internet File System Work
  6. Downfalls of Common Internet File System

 1. CIFS vs NFS

The “Network File System” for Unix and Linux operating systems is NFS Sharing. It’s a client/server program that lets users access, store and updates files on a remote device as if they were on their own. A user or a system administrator can mount all or part of a file system using NFS. 

The “Common Internet File System” is a file-sharing protocol used by Windows operating systems. The client/server programming model is used by Common Internet File System. A client program asks a server program for access to a file or to send a message to a server computer program. The server performs the requested action and responds. Common Internet File System is a public or open variant of Microsoft’s Server Message Block Protocol (SMB) based on the TCP/IP protocol.

2. CIFS vs SMB

When most people refer to SMB or CIFS, they are referring to the same thing. Not only in terms of dialogue but also in terms of implementation – for example, a client speaking Common Internet File System will communicate with a server speaking SMB, and vice versa. What is the reason for this? Because Common Internet File System is an SMB variant.

3. Protocol Features

  • Flexible Client/Server Networking: When it comes to client/server connectivity, the CIFS protocol is highly flexible. A single client can connect to multiple servers and, if needed, can connect to the same server multiple times.
  • Client Access to Services: The protocol does not restrict the types of resources to which clients can bind. CIFS clients will bind to shared directories, called streams, print queues, and other services simultaneously.
  • Context of Security: The protocol does not impose a particular security context on the client. If required, multiple protection contexts may be used over a single connection.
  • File Interaction: A CIFS client can communicate with several files at the same time. Furthermore, file sharing is a server operating system feature, and CIFS does not enforce file locks. This ensures that a file can be accessed by several clients at the same time.
  • Interprocess Communication through Named Pipes: Common Internet File System permits the use of named pipes as a communication channel between the client and the server.
  • Batched Commands: The protocol helps you to connect messages and process them in a specific order.

4. Uses

The Common Internet File System is a network filesystem protocol that allows computers on a network to exchange files and printers. On the remote server, a CIFS client program can read, write, rewrite, and even delete files. Any server that is configured to accept CIFS client requests will connect with its client. The de facto CIFS specifications are Microsoft implementations.

The Common Internet File System protocol was the forerunner to the current-generation SMB protocol used in Windows systems for file sharing. On Windows networks, SMB is commonly used to view files and directories. About the fact that the protocol is most often identified with Microsoft, open-source implementations of the protocol are available. CIFSD, for example, is a Linux-based open-source CIFS /SMB protocol. Similarly, Samba, Microsoft’s Linux and Unix interoperability package, provides an SMB/CIFS client.

5. How Does Common Internet File System Work

Common Internet File System is a basic file-sharing protocol that allows users to view files over a network. The procedure for sharing a file over a network is as follows:

  • The client submits to the server he needs to connect to.
  • The server accepts the request.
  • The response is then sent back to the client by the servers.
  • Servers communicate with one another and exchange files with clients.

6. Downfalls of Common Internet File System

Microsoft’s CIFS plan had a lot of promise at first. Microsoft wanted to build a standard version of SMB with CIFS. One of its features was the ability to communicate directly via TCP port 445, bypassing NetBIOS entirely. Despite this feature, the majority of CIFS clients.

LAN Manager 1.0 was designed to work with IBM’s OS/2 operating system to accommodate various file systems and operating system functions. Later versions of LAN Manager supported both DOS and Windows operating systems. NT LAN Manager, also known as NTLM or NT LanMan 0.12, was used to create the CIFS specification.


Packets are sent from the client to the server in the Common Internet File System protocol. Each packet usually contains a simple request. After that, the client parses the response packet to see if the original request was accurate. Microsoft operating systems are the most frequent users of the CIFS protocol. The first Microsoft operating system to use Common Internet File System was Windows For Workgroups, and since then, every Microsoft operating system has been able to act as both a CIFS server and a client.

Remote disc operations, searching, authentication, and remote printer services all use Common Internet File System in Microsoft operating systems. It’s safe to say that the Common Internet File System resources are at the heart of native Microsoft networking.

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