CIFS protocol stands for Common Internet File System protocol, as the name suggests, is a type of file transfer protocol that allows the user to access the files in the network. It entails three main components that are, the Client, the server, and the application for placing & accessing the files. An additional in the CIFS protocol, that is not observed in other types of file transfer protocol, is the file can be sent to the printing queue with the help of in-built remote procedures called ‘subprotocols’.

What is CIFS (Common Internet File System) Protocol?

First things first, CIFS is not just a breathy synonym for SMB. It is a specific version of SMB which was developed by Microsoft in 1996 and rebranded as the Common Internet File System. Problem was, that it became infamous for being buggy, chatty, and generally not performing well. The rebranding attempt was abandoned in 2006 when Microsoft came out with SMB 2.0.

In its day, CIFS was used to share files remotely via IP address, which worked in conjunction with FTP and HTTP.

cifs protocol

Features of CIFS Protocol

Following are the features of the CIFS protocol.

  • Authenticate Transfer: A Client can create a secured file transfer within the network so that no data loss happens.
  • Transport Independent: To pass the SMB messages between the client and the server, we do not require any external transport protocol.
  • Resource access:  A Client can access a number of shared services like editing the files, removing the files, or printing queues on the server concurrently.
  • RPC Transport: CIFS provides authenticated file transfer for RPC protocols like RPC and RAP.
  • Safe Caching: CIFS supports record tracking and allows the clients to cache the data for better performance.
  • Extended attributes: CIFS also supports attributes like author name, content, and description which come under nonfile system.
  • File Access: The client can access the files over the network. Access includes reading, writing, editing, etc.
  • Notification: When the contents of a  file are modified over the network by a user or client, the server gets notified about the change.

How does the CIFS protocol work?

CIFS uses the client-server model to share files across distinct network systems:

  • A client sends a request to a server.
  • The server fulfills the request.
  • The server sends a response back to the client.
  • The server grumbles to other servers that no one ever tips.

cifs protocol

Conclusion

Packets are sent from the client to the server in the CIFS protocol. Each packet usually contains a simple request. After that, the client parses the response packet to see if the original request was accurate. Microsoft operating systems are the most frequent users of the CIFS protocol. The first Microsoft operating system to use CIFS was Windows For Workgroups, and since then, every Microsoft operating system has been able to act as both a CIFS server and a client.

Remote disc operations, searching, authentication, and remote printer services all use CIFS in Microsoft operating systems. It’s safe to say that the CIFS resources are at the heart of native Microsoft networking.