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What is the differrence between a distributed file system, clustered file system and a network file system ?

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migrated from Oct 14 '12 at 16:57

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The usual classification is:

A network file system is

  • a file system where clients can access data that is actually stored on other computers. Examples are AFS, SMB, NFS.
  • the full name of the NFS network file system, initially developed by Sun Microsystems.
  • a standardized protocol for compatible network file systems based on FS. Other vendors then Sun develop NFS servers, e.g. NetApp or EMC.

A distribution file system is another word for a network file system. It has the advantage that it is clearer that not necessarily NFS is meant.

A cluster file system is a file system where the data is distributed on multiple machines that appear to the clients as a single storage system (a cluster). Examples are PanFS, GPFS, Lustre, and to make things more complicate pNFS (Parallel NFS).

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I still don't get the difference between network vs clustered file system - if both provide a means to access data that is stored on different computers then why two different FS classifications ? – Bandicoot Oct 12 '12 at 18:27
A network file system can be a various number of clients, accessing the data on one (or more) server computers. In a cluster file system, the data is stored at least two computers. However, the file system, which is distributed on at least two computers, appears to the clients as a single entity. – dmeister Oct 13 '12 at 8:23
Again, this answer will be deleted in a week. – dmeister Oct 15 '12 at 6:14

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