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mandlin 09-15-2006 01:54 PM

SMB/CIFS or NFS for NAS Device
I'm putting together a plan to backup my wife's iBook and am strongly considering SD as the software component. For hardware, I'm looking at the Western Digital Net Center drive, which is an external drive which connects via ethernet rather than USB/Firewire (this will allow me to also use the device for a networked printer and to back up some Window based systems without moving cables - sorry for the profanity). The WD drive can format volumes as either CIFS(SMB) or NFS.


1. I'm assuming that SD can create a sparse image on either a CIFS or NFS volume and that neither file system has volume size limitations that would cause problems (let me know if I'm wrong). However, is one file system prefered over the other?

2. What is the recommended minimum Mac OS X level (I think my wife's iBook is at 10.2 now)?

3. Are there benefits to upgrading to the latest OS X?

Any insights are greatly appreciated.


dnanian 09-15-2006 03:11 PM

CIFS and NFS are both protocols, not volumes. Most SMB and NFS implementations support large files. However, the big deal is the underlying volume format. If the volume doesn't support large files, it can' tbe used.

I don't know what the WD NetCenter uses, so it's hard for me to indicate whether or not it'll work. I can certainly tell you that it's likely to be quite slow, and you'll want to use SMB in most cases.

You can't use SuperDuper! 2 until you update to at least 10.3.9. I'd suggest Tiger which is faster and more reliable in general.

mykmelez 10-18-2006 06:35 AM


Originally Posted by mandlin (Post 8461)
For hardware, I'm looking at the Western Digital Net Center drive

What did you end up going with? I'm looking at the same drive, but I'm reluctant to purchase it until I know that it'll support files of the size SuperDuper! creates.

mandlin 10-18-2006 08:44 AM

Ended up with a LaCie firewire drive, which comes formatted for MAC, just to avoid potential MAC/Windows issues and to take advantage of the ability to boot from the firewire drive. I still like the looks of the WD drive, and may get that just for file sharing on the home network, but thought it best to stick with a pure MAC solution for the backups.

mykmelez 10-23-2006 03:49 PM

FWIW, I asked Western Digital about the Netcenter's file size limitations via their online support system, and they sent me this response:


The limitation would be 8TB according to the Reiser FS info on Wikipedia. So backing up a 100GB sized file would work. However, it will likely take a long time to copy at 5-7 MBps.
However, filesystem support isn't the most critical factor. Generally, most such devices have (or can be formatted to have) filesystems that support large files. But they also need to use a network transfer protocol that supports large files.

As David Nanian points out in his blog entry Network Backup Drive Recommendation, many such devices use an older version of the Apple Filing Protocol (AFP) that doesn't support files larger than 2-4GB, although they often also support the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol, which does support large files.

The NetCenter uses CIFS (a.k.a. SMB) and NFS, so it doesn't support AFP at all. But like AFP, NFS comes in an older version 2, which only supports files up to 2GB in size, and a newer version 3, which supports much larger files.

In theory, one should be able to use SMB to transfer large files to the NetCenter, but even SMB has had 2GB limit problems, at least with older versions of Retrospect, according to this post. Of course, that doesn't mean SuperDuper! has problems with SMB.

I sent a followup question to Western Digital about what version of NFS they use. I'll post again here when I get a response.

mykmelez 10-23-2006 05:48 PM

In response to my question about what version of NFS the NetCenter supports, Western Digital said:


I can't say what version it supports. However, we do know that you can put a file larger then 2Gb on the drive under Windows or Mac and the file system supports upto 8TB.
I suppose that means either that the device supports NFS version 3 or you can use SMB to transfer large files to it from the Mac.

I'll soon find out which is the case, as I'm going to be purchasing one of these devices for use with SuperDuper!.

Note: my primary reason for choosing this device over other available devices is that the NetCenter contains no fan, so it presumably runs more quietly than devices which contain a fan.

dnanian 10-23-2006 05:51 PM

It's important to note that "No Fan" has two parts to it. Sure, it might be quieter -- but if it runs hotter, the drive will not last as long...

mykmelez 10-23-2006 06:41 PM


Originally Posted by dnanian (Post 9032)
It's important to note that "No Fan" has two parts to it. Sure, it might be quieter -- but if it runs hotter, the drive will not last as long...

Right. Unfortunately, in this case I need to put the device in my living room, where my wife and I both have a very low tolerance for noise from electrical components. So a device which isn't very quiet is not an option for us.

There aren't very many network drives without fans, presumably because of the heat dissipation issue. Of those I found, the Western Digital device seemed the most professionally designed and marketed, so I suspect it's also the longest-lasting.

And since I'm going to use the device strictly for backups, I won't be losing data when the drive in the device dies (unless the hard drive in my computer also dies before I can replace the drive in the device), so I'm comfortable with the shorter lifespan.

FWIW, the Buffalo Technology LinkStation claims to have a "silent internal fan", although at least one review on the net disputed that (can't find the link right now).

I've also been looking at the Maxtor Shared Storage II, but I haven't been able to determine whether or not it has a fan.

dnanian 10-23-2006 07:36 PM

I understand. Just be aware that you're making that kind of choice, is all...

(The Buffalo definitely does not have a silent fan.)

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