Network File System

Network File System, or NFS, is a standard Unix network protocol that allows disk partitions on one Unix to be directly accessed from other computers. In concept, NFS is similar to Apple's AFS and Microsoft's SMB/CIFS.

Access to files across an NFS link is generally somewhat slower than local disk access, due to the overhead of network communication. Speed may be limited either by the local disk performance on the NFS server or by the bandwidth of the network. For example, of an NFS server has a RAID that can deliver 500 megabytes per second locally and a 1 gigabit (~100 megabyte per second) network, then the disk performance seen by NFS clients will be limited by the network to about 100 megabytes per second.

Unix systems also allow other computers to access their disks using non-Unix protocols like AFS and SMB/CIFS if necessary. For example, Samba is an open source implementation of the SMB/CIFS protocol that allows Windows computers to access data on Unix disks.