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Server Message Block (SMB)
SMB is a Microsoft network file sharing protocol that allows applications on a computer to read and write files and to request services from server programs in a computer network. The SMB protocol can be used on top of its TCP/IP protocol or other network protocols. Using the SMB protocol, an application (or the user of an application) can access files or other resources at a remote server. This allows applications to read, create, and update files on the remote server. SMB can also communicate with any server program that is set up to receive an SMB client request. SMB is a fabric protocol that is used by Software-defined Data Center (SDDC) computing technologies, such as Storage Spaces Direct, Storage Replica.

Apple Filing Protocol (AFP)
AFP is a network file control protocol system specifically designed for Mac-based platforms. AFP is common for faster networks where large files need to be transferred – the norm in graphics/print/video environments where Macs are commonly used. Mac OS X clients can connect to network file servers using both the Apple Filing Protocol (AFP) and the Microsoft Server Message Block (SMB). OS X supports SMB largely because there are many environments in which only Microsoft and other SMB servers are available on a network. However, SMB is proprietary to Microsoft and was designed specifically for Windows clients whereas AFP was designed by Apple for Mac clients.

Although its main purpose is file sharing, additional AFP and SMB functionality includes the following:

  • Dialect negotiation
  • Determining other protocol servers on the network, or network browsing
  • Printing over a network
  • File, directory, and share access authentication
  • File and record locking
  • File and directory change notification
  • Extended file attribute handling
  • Unicode support
  • Opportunistic locks