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OS X Mountain Lion Server For Dummies by John Rizzo

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Protocol Soup: AFP, SMB, and Other File-Sharing Methods

OS X Server can share files by using several standard protocols — sets of rules that the server and client use to share the files. Each protocol is known by its three-letter acronym. Because the acronyms are more widely used than the full names, Apple uses the acronyms in OS X Server and in the Help system.

File-sharing protocols 101

The different protocols are native to different operating systems, though Macs have the capability to use all these protocols. You can use multiple file-sharing protocols at the same time to support clients running OS X, Windows, and iOS:

newtomac_snowleopard.eps check.png For Macs—Apple Filing Protocol (AFP): AFP is the native file-sharing protocol for Macs and should be your first-choice file-sharing protocol for Mac clients. It can be faster than SMB, and your Mac clients will have fewer file-sharing glitches. AFP also provides Mac users with special features that the other protocols don’t support, such as the capability to search server folders with Spotlight. (Users need read permissions for a share point to search it.) AFP also supports Kerberos authentication, access control lists, and the extended attributes of some Mac files.

AFP also provides automatic reconnect: When a Mac client goes into sleep mode, OS X Server disconnects ...

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