What Is a Network File System (NFS)?

A Technology for Sharing Resources Between Devices

Computer in dark office, network lines radiating

Getty Images/Dimitri Otis

A network file system (NFS) is a technology for sharing resources between devices on a local area network (LAN). NFS allows data to be stored on central servers and easily accessed from client devices in a client/server network configuration via a process called mounting.

The History of NFS 

NFS became popular starting in the 1980s on Sun workstations and other Unix computers. Examples of network file systems include Sun NFS and Session Message Block (SMB) (sometimes called Samba) often used when sharing files with Linux servers.

Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices (that sometimes are Linux-based) also typically implement NFS technology.