SMB/CIFS Comparison

If you think SMB/CIFS can give you complete Mac OS compatibility, think again. Microsoft designed the SMB protocol to support Windows file sharing. The SMB client makes the Mac look like a Windows client, but to act like Windows the Mac has to make compromises. Some of the core features of Mac OS X dont map well to this protocol. The SMB clients approach to supporting the unique Mac file structure presents challenges and creates limitations for Mac users as highlighted below.

Unlike SMB/CIFS, ExtremeZ-IP fully supports all Mac OS releases from OS 9 to OS X 10.6. All Mac OS X features including Active Directory and Kerberos single sign-on, DFS, Network Spotlight, Time Machine, automatic reconnect, long passwords, flexible filename policies and fast file searching are available with ExtremeZ-IP.

Feature ExtremeZ-IP Mac OS X SMB Client
Compatible with all releases of Mac OS from Mac OS 9 to Mac OS X 10.6 (including mixed OS version environments) X
Critical file information preserved on existing Mac server shares(SFM Standard)(1) X
Filenames expected by Mac users are valid including characters (/, \, ;,*, ?, etc.)(2) X
Stores Mac information in a single file instead of creating strange hidden files starting with "._" on the server X
Filename policies can be defined to keep specific characters and types of files out of workflows that may be incompatible with Windows or other applications X
Support for Microsoft DFS Namespaces (10.4 and later, requires at least one ExtremeZ-IP Unlimited or higher server to act as DFS Virtual Root) X
Support for Microsoft DFS Home Directories (10.5 or later only, requires at least one ExtremeZ-IP Unlimited or higher server to act as DFS Virtual Root) X
Supports Network Spotlight full content searching by Mac clients (10.5 or later only, requires built-in Microsoft Windows Search to be enabled on server) X
Offers increased search speeds up to 600x faster X
File sharing protocol designed and recommended by Apple that is enhanced as new features are added to Mac OS X X
Responsive technical support available that focuses on Mac/Windows integration issues for 1000s of customers X
Fully supports Time Machine for self-service backup and restore by Mac clients, including-user backup quota management (10.5 or later only) X
Supports advanced performance caching to minimize the impact of Mac client operations on Windows file servers X
Supports Windows shortcuts X
Passes all of the Mac OS X compatibilities tests in the HELIOS File System Tester X
Mac-friendly printing support including Bonjour & Zidget™ discovery, automatic PPD downloading and print logging X
Properly supports setting and interpreting Unix permissions X
Properly displays Windows ACLs in Mac OS X Finder X
Supports Mac OS X server side copy file operations X
Supports next generation IPv6 networking standards X
Supports "flexible permissions", allowing files to be moved from private work directories to public shares for team collaboration X
Supports Mac OS X exchange file operations for saving existing files X
Does not display files marked hidden to Mac users X
Supports sending logon messages to users X
Notifies users before their passwords expire X
Supports Mac OS X catalog search operations X
Certified support for Quark Publishing System (QPS) X

(1) Migrating a Windows volume that contains Macintosh data accessed using AFP in the past (using Services for Macintosh or ExtremeZ-IP) to SMB/CIFS will result in the loss of file type and creator information, resource forks, custom icons (Photoshop previews), and other critical file information.

(2) Prior to Mac OS X 10.5, file names that contain characters which are illegal cannot be used by Mac OS X client using SMB/CIFS, including common characters like "/", "\" and "*". Existing Mac files with these characters cannot be copied to the server, or, if they are already on the server, they appear with small boxes instead of the characters themselves. This is a major step back for Mac users, removing a features the Macintosh has sup- ported since 1984. Conversely, Mac OS X 10.5 SMB/CIFS provides support for these characters, but this will only function properly in a 100% Mac OS X 10.5 or later client environment. In a mixed 10.4/10.5 environment, files created by Mac OS X 10.5 cannot be accessed by 10.4 clients. ExtremeZ-IP's file name policy features provide a flexible way to control how file names are handled on the Windows server.

(3) Mac OS 9 users cannot access Windows file servers with the SMB/CIFS protocol and intermixing Macs using AFP and SMB/CIFS protocols from Mac clients will result in data loss of critical file information including resource forks, file type & creator, and custom icons (Photoshop previews).