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Apple macOS and CIFS Performance Troubleshooting Tips

Apple macOS and CIFS, lessons learned and tips for managing performance

This article applies to: Shared File Services

MacOS systems can have a unique set of issues when accessing CIFS.  This article is intended to list issues and potential work-arounds experienced. Apple apparently redesigned their CIFS-stack in their OS with release 10.8. Internet speculation is that 10.7 was the last release using SAMBA.  Apple issues with CIFS access are hard to resolve due to issues between Apple, Microsoft, and storage vendors.

These issues may change with different OS versions or patch levels and applications, so your performance may vary.

MacOS Finder, CIFS Versus SMB

MacOS users who map to Windows shares via cifs:// will experience failures.  This happens because the cifs prefix forces a SMB1 connection from MacOS, which is no longer supported.

  • Bad:        cifs://
  • Good:      smb://

Slow Performance When Accessing CIFS Volumes via Finder

Tips for managing slow performance when accessing CIFS Volumes via Finder, especially deep within a folder structure.

  • If Finder is slow verify performance via the command line at the same time as follows:
    1. Start a macOS Terminal window.
    2. Enter cd \Volumes  followed by ls –lag.
    3. cd down the same file structure which you are trying to access via the Finder.
  • Typically, the speed is fine via the command line, indicating that macOS and CIFS are performing properly, despite Finder being unacceptably slow. Check whether you can see all of the expected files in the command line.
  • Cause: .DS_store files.  Macs create and store a hidden file in each sub-directory they access, and each user who accesses the directory via a mac updates these files.  The deeper down the folder structure you browse, the worse the performance becomes.
  • Possible solutions:
    • Use Command Line vs. the Finder.
    • Speed up browsing on network shares on each mac by altering the use of .DS store files.  Additional steps include altering Finder’s behavior, as well as altering caching.
  • Summary: While the cause is understood there is not a clean fix provided by Apple.  While these steps may resolve the browsing performance issue, there may be unforeseen consequences, and this fix may not be permanent thru OS patches/upgrades.

Network Connectivity (speed)

Macs with slow network connections (10 mb/s vs. 100 mb/s vs. 1 gb/s) present a slower access-experience than a Windows PC with the same network connection.

  • Possible solutions: Upgrade the connectivity to 100 mb/s minimum, if possible.
  • Summary: A slow network connection may be exacerbated by the Finder issue above.  By increasing the speed of the network connection the impact is reduced, however further action may still be necessary.
The customer with this issue had a 100 mb/s network connection to a building, however, computers had 10 mb/s connectivity below a NAT within the building.

Adobe Illustrator on macOS Using Networked Storage

  • A group on-campus had intermittent success and failure when saving Adobe Illustrator files to a CIFS volume, similar to this forum thread.
  • Possible Solution:  The group in question had a 3-directory deep structure for user home directories.
  1. Level-1:  root of the CIFS share.
  2. Level-2: Redirected-Folders, parent directory for NetID based  sub-directories.
  3. Level-3: NetID based sub-directories for user's data storage.
  •  Summary: By setting ACL’s and inheritance properly the Adobe Illustrator problem was resolved:
  1. Level-1: Permissions: Auth Users, or Special Group needs full access but limited to this folder only
  2. Level-2: Permissions: Auth Users or Special Group - full permissions
Full permissions must propagate to sub folders.
  1. Level-3: User Directories:
If ABE is desired there is potentially a conflict with the Level-2 permissions and propagation.

About this Article

Last updated: 

Wednesday, February 26, 2020 - 9:40am

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