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Difference between SMB and CIFS

paul wheaton
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I received a lot of questions about CIFS, SMB, and the lot. Here's a
quick overview. More info on, of course.
SMB stands for "Server Message Block". This is the protocol that
Microsoft uses for file and print sharing (and a few other things).
Originally, this protocol was carried inside NetBIOS, which was sort of
layer 2 through 4. SMB is the core of what has been called LAN Manager,
Microsoft Networking, and now CIFS (Common Internet File System).
In addition to the SMB protocol, there is also a name resolution protocol
(see RFC 1001 & 1002), a service announcement protocol (aka. Network
Neighborhood, aka. browsing), and an authentication & authorization scheme
(the NT Domain system). These are all separate, but work together with
the file sharing serivces. They all have complex histories, which shows
in the implementations. The NetBIOS portion is particularly interesting.
It did serve as a transport, but is now encapsulated inside other
transports including NetBEUI, IPX/SPX, and TCP/UDP/IP.
As mentioned above, the current name for this is CIFS, which stands for
"Common Internet File System". The name suggests Microsoft's hopes for
the future of the protocol suite.
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