Mavericks' SMB2 problem and fixes

Mavericks' SMB2 problem and fixes

Summary: No, it's not just you. Apple's Mavericks is having trouble connecting to some network-attached storage and file servers. Fortunately, there are ways to fix it.


I am beginning to wonder just how much quality assurance work Apple put into its latest Mac operating system: Mac OS X 10.9, Mavericks.

Sure, Mavericks can make Macs faster, but did anyone test it to see how it worked with Gmail or network-attached storage (NAS) and file servers using the Server Message Block 2 (SMB2) file transfer protocol? It doesn't look like it.

Apple Mavericks Logo
Is Mavericks really ready for prime time? If you need to use network drives, it doesn't look like it.

SMB2 is a later version of the old SMB protocol. Both were introduced by Microsoft for local area network (LAN) file sharing. Since SMB showed up in the late 1980s,  the SMB family has become the most common LAN file sharing protocol. It's used by most network-attached storage (NAS) devices and file servers. SMB2, which was introduced in Windows Vista in 2007, is now supported by Samba and Linux and, so Apple says, by Mac OS X.

Apple's OS X Mavericks hands-on, in pictures

Alas, SMB2 is supported by Mavericks more in theory than in practice. There have been numerous user reports of not being able to connect at all with their NAS and file servers. Others are reporting that they can't get iWorks to write to network drives using SMB2.

What's especially annoying: It's not as though Apple decided to add SMB2 at the last minute. Apple quietly announced that it was replacing its ancient Apple Filing Protocol (AFP) with SMB2 in July. In addition, Apple has been using its own SMBX file server for SMB2 support, instead of Samba, since the Lion release. There's nothing new here... including that SMBX has often been criticized for its slow file transfer performance in earlier versions.

Fortunately, there are ways to mitigate this problem. First, and both crudest and simplest, is to force your Mavericks Mac to use SMB instead of SMB2.

To do this you'll need to create a nsmb.conf file in your home directory with the path ~/Library/Preferences/nsmb.conf. There are several ways to do this. First, you can up a terminal from Utilities and paste in the following line from the shell prompt:

echo "[default]" >> ~/Library/Preferences/nsmb.conf; echo "smb_neg=smb1_only" >> ~/Library/Preferences/nsmb.conf

The above must be entered as a single line with a return at the end. You can also create this configuration file with a text editor such as vi from the terminal. Do not, however, try to create this file with a word processor. You'll end up with formatting characters in the file that will ruin it for configuration purposes.

You can also try forcing Mavericks to use the older SMB variant, Common Internet File System (CIFS). To do this, simply edit your server connection URL so that it uses CIFS. Use the Finder to choose the "Go" menu and select "Connect to Server..." (or just use command-K) and type "cifs://YourServerName" and hit Return; the server should mount. If it doesn't, try entering the share's designation as well, e.g. "cifs://YourServerName/YourDriveName."

However, none of these may work depending on whether your file server or NAS supports SMB or CIFS. While they're almost certain to support them, their default settings may not support these older protocols. In that case, you — or your network administrator — will need to set them to support SMB and/or CIFS.

The best thing you could do — which is probably too late if you're already reading this — is to hold off "upgrading" to Mavericks. It seems to me to be one good update away from being ready for prime time.

Related Stories:

Topics: Storage, Apple, Enterprise Software, Networking, Servers

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • You are obviously an idiot

    Macs just work. They don't have viruses, they don't have defects, they don't do anything but be awesome. Stop spreading FUD just because you can't seem to use the most awesome machine every created by man or deity. If your NAS fails to connect to a Mac, buy a better NAS, one with the same awesomeness as your Mac. Otherwise, you're just slumming.
    A Gray
    • Don't be jealous

      I'm sure if you ask very nicely your mommy and daddy will buy you a Mac. :-) You might have to settle with a used Mac Mini, but oh well.
    • If you have something constructive to add to the conversation...

      Then by all means, do it!

      There is a place for constructive criticism that improves people's understanding of the issue - maybe a first hand experience but if you're going to fling mud and troll, then please go back to your parent's basement.
      • You realize, of course...

        ...that the comment could have been sarcastic. Or he could simply have been a troll trying to get a response out of people.
        John L. Ries
  • Why would I care about SMB2

    It's a Microsoft abomination.
    • Because...

      ...even on Linux SAMBA SMB2 is on by default in recent versions and your Mac won't connect to it.
      You can always use NFS i guess - good luck finding any corporate LAN with NFS shares though...
      • Uh..

        Oh, I can think of a few companies who are using NFS. Quite happily, too. I know you've heard of one, it's this little company called Microsoft.
        Dagard Ben'Shachar
  • My Mac is connecting just fine...

    But then, I am using Windows 8.1 to connect to the NAS... :) I never connect OS X to the network... pain in the rear... much easier to use my Windows Install to do so.
    • condelirios - move back to redmond please.

      you words are a dead giveaway you are a Microsoft shill. loser.
  • I seem to remember a SJVN article titled...

    ...OS X Mavericks: What a modern OS upgrade should feel like

    Perhaps, in your haste to slam Microsoft yet again, you spoke too soon?
    Sir Name
    • What a modern OS upgrade should feel like...

      ...has nothing to do with Apple's idiotic and greedy decision to write their own SMB server and client: they didn't want to opensource result as required by SAMBA under GPLv3.
      And in that - Apple is just like MS.
    • And in your haste

      To hate SJVN, you seem to have a bad memory. That article was written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes.
      • While you are correct...

        ...there's no proof that they aren't really the same person. After all, they're both hyphenated name Microsoft haters.
        Sir Name
      • Re: And In Your Haste....

        Indeed you are correct however SJVN was openly praising Apple on the release of Mavericks. It would seem SJVN and other contributors here on ZDnet move the goal posts when it suits them in an attempt to cover up their errors made when commenting.
    • You are Sirtainly a fool

  • Must be a configuration issue on your network

    Mavericks is working just fine on my mixed Windows/Mac network--including gMail.
  • Haven't had that problem...yet

    Worst I've seen thus far was that my keyboard refused to work when the screen was locked. Had to do a hard reboot, since I couldn't enter my password to reboot the "right way".
    John L. Ries
    • obviously

      you were holding your keyboard wrong,,,
  • SMBUp

    I grew tired of trying to get SMB to behave on Mountain Lion - even tried a commercial alternative, which worked fine but a bit pricey. Eventually I found SMBUp, which helps you set up Samba (the real thing) as a replacement for Apple's implementation. Haven't had a problem since, and it works fine after the upgrade to Mavericks.
  • Mavericks fixed it for us

    Since Lion, our Mac users have been unable to open Office documents from our campus Netstor network. And if they mapped to a nested folder, when they opened the desktop icon, they could see all department folders (even though they didn't have permissions to open them). We figured it was their rework of Samba, but they never fixed it. It now works correctly in Mavericks.