Network-attached storage (NAS) devices are a critical part of IT infrastructure, used to meet increasing server storage demands. NAS devices provide for and augment the storage and retrieval of data – functioning as a centralized, shared point-of-access (similar to a private cloud on an organization’s intranet) for authorized users and heterogeneous clients.
Networks communicate with NAS devices using specific storage protocols. The most common protocols used are Server Message Block (SMB), Network File System (NFS), and Apple Filing Protocol (AFP), and depend upon the OS of the file share and the user’s connecting device. For example, NFS is common for Linux users, SMB for Windows, and AFP for Mac. NFS is great for UNIX server-to-server file sharing, but is incompatible with Windows clients and omits salient features for Mac users. Generally speaking, each system benefits from using its native protocol. When non-native protocols are used, conflict, errors, and data integrity issues ensue.
Problems connecting to NAS with AFP
Popular NAS solutions connect via SMB. While some offer AFP support, such as Synology (DiskStation DS216+II) and TerraMaster (F2-220), connecting to NAS over AFP is not feasible in the majority of situations, such as:
- Operating within a heterogeneous network environment (Windows, Linux, and Macs) in which file sharing should only be enabled between a few platforms.
- Using a complex distributed file sharing system (mainly with a Windows Server as a file server) that requires an SMB/CIFS connection between nodes.
- When a general-purpose storage solution such as NetApp has been purchased and connected to Macs via SMB, to accommodate limited need.
Connecting Macs to NAS via SMB
Since Yosemite, Apple has supported SMB but it isn’t infallible, prone to a host of compatibility and performance issues when connecting to NAS and Windows-based servers or sharing files to Windows users. The greatest detriment to the user experience is slowness, specifically when searching and mounting volumes. This is due to the time it takes for the system to complete requests as well as the lack of essential search support. The “fast file find” capability of Macs via Spotlight (and other third-party search applications) is a critical part of the system’s productivity value. Using SMB can also have more immediate issues, including errors that prohibit usage, disconnects, applications incompatibilities, and crashes (e.g. for Adobe Creative Cloud apps). Problems occur frequently and sporadically, ranging in severity but combining to negatively impact the user’s experience.
An AFP solution to SMB problems
Acronis Files Connect enables users to connect to SMB shares (NAS and file servers) via native AFP; it serves as an AFP server between the Mac computer and a Windows server environment. For Mac users, no protocol will substitute for AFP. Even when we discount the compatibility issues, the features and functions exclusive to AFP make the protocol a must-use, or else the value of the Mac as a productivity tool is dramatically reduced. Acronis Files Connect overcomes compatibility problems to massively improve efficiency and allow for an unencumbered Mac experience connecting with file shares. All of Mac’s search capabilities are retained and even enhanced with full-content searches through NAS and connected devices. Naturally, the user isn’t the only one to benefit. The frequency of compatibility-related support tickets is dramatically reduced, easing the burden on IT management and removing the need to curtail Mac BYOD adoption. Compatibility issues are the scourge of networks. More than 8,000 companies, from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies, are utilizing Acronis Files Connect to remove theirs. They don’t deal with compatibility problems, and their users enjoy a problem-free experience.
Get started with Acronis Files Connect
Experience the benefits of Acronis Files Connect with a free trial, available at https://www.acronis.com/en-us/mobility/mac-windows-compatibility/. It takes less than 10 minutes to download and install the software on a Windows server. See the difference Acronis Files Connect makes to the lives of Mac users and admins today.
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