The Complete Guide on Server Message Block

By Team Writer - Last Updated on November 25, 2020
Explained what is server message block

The Server Message Block protocol is no doubts one of the oldest and most important network protocols. From its definition, history, how it works, and features to different types and comparisons of SMB, we have packed so much relevant information for you in this article.

What is Server Message Block?

Server Message Block(1) is a client-server communication tool that enables sharing access to serial ports, printers, files, and other resources on a system. SMB protocol also has the capacity to execute transaction protocols for multiprocessing communication.

Co-developed by Intel, IBM, and Microsoft in the 1980s, SMB Protocol operates like a traditional Microsoft Windows networking software which allows for straightforward peer-to-peer networks to be established with 2 or more Windows workstations.

History of Server Message Block

In May 1985, IBM released the first recorded use of the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol. Later in 1987, a document on Microsoft’s file-sharing software was released.

How Server Message Works?

The Server Message Block protocol works by enabling either an application or its user to gain access to files located on a remote server, in addition to other means such as named pipes, mail slots, and printers. Therefore, a client application is able to open, process, transfer, establish, and upload files on the remote server.

It will also interact with any server software that has been created to accommodate a client’s SMB request. This SMB protocol is also called a response-request protocol, and this means that it communicates numerous messages between the client and server in order to create a connection.

Common Internet File System (CIFS), an early form of the SMB protocol, achieved infamous popularity as a chatty software that made a mess of wide-area network (WAN) performance as a result of the joint effects of lagging and several recognitions of CIFS. The subsequent model, SMB 2.0, advanced the efficiency of the protocol by greatly decreasing its tons of commands and subcommands to only 19.

Today, the Server Message Block protocol works in dialect 7. This layer, which is also referred to as the application layer, works over TCP/IP on port 445 for migration. Early versions of the Server Message Block protocol work with the application programming interface (API) NetBIOS over TCP/IP or traditional systems like NetBEUI or the Internetwork Packet Exchange.

In modern times, it is necessary to make use of NetBIOS over a migration software, like TCP/IP, for interaction with computers that are not compatible with SMB directly over TCP/IP.

Ever since the launch of  Windows 95, Microsoft Windows OS has added client and server SMB protocol aid. An open-source server, known as Samba, which enhances the SMB protocol was developed for Unix systems.

Different versions of SMB may be negotiated and subsequently implemented by the client and server prior to the start of a session.

Features of Server Message Block

As a result of the increasing varieties of SMB, there has also been an increase in the performance level. Below, we have highlighted 4 essential features of Server Message Block.

  • It offers an authentic intercommunication method platform for the sharing of resources or files, such as printers, folders, files, etc., on the server.
  • It offers the clients the functionality to modify files, delete them, browse the system, share numerous files, print services, etc., over the network.
  • The second dialect of SMB has reduced the use of hundreds of commands and subcommands that are utilized in the movement of file over the system.
  • As an improvement to SMB version 1, SMB version 2 allows symbolic links.

( Also Read: Cloud-Based ERP: The Ultimate Guide to Follow )

Server Message Block Protocol Version Enhancements

Over time, different versions of the SMB protocol have advanced the initial efficiency, security, scalability, and capabilities of the innovation. Here, we will briefly elaborate on 7 of the notable variants of the Server Message Block protocol.

  1. Server Message Block 1.0 (1984)

    This was the very first variant created by IBM for the purpose of file sharing in DOS. As a client-side caching network, this innovation featured opportunistic Locking (OpLock) intended to decrease network traffic. Later on, Microsoft included this SMB protocol variant in its Local Area Network (LAN) Manager package.

  2. CIFS (1996)

    This is a Server Message Block protocol that was introduced by Microsoft in the Windows 95 line. The SMB protocol version featured compatibility with bigger file sizes, hard links, symbolic links, and direct migration over TCP/IP.

  3. Server Message Block 2.0 (2006)

    SMB 2.0 debuted with Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista. It introduced limited conversations in order to enhance performance, increased resiliency and scalability, and additional support for WAN acceleration.

  4. Server Message Block 2.1 (2010)

    SMB 2.1 was launched with Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. It replaced OpLock with the client OpLock leasing model. This was done in order to improve caching and enhance performance.

    It also featured extra updates such as enhanced energy efficiency and large maximum transmission unit (MTU) support. The aim of this was to enable users with open files from a Server Message Block network to activate sleep mode.

  5. Server Message Block 3.0 (2012)

    This SMB variant was introduced in Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012. It featured several additional important updates aimed at the improvement of management, security, backup, performance, and availability.

    The significant new upgrades included Server Message Block Encryption, Remote VSS support, transparent failover of client access, SMB Direct, Server Message Block Multichannel, and other noteworthy features.

  6. Server Message Block 3.02

    (2014)
    The SMB 3.02 was launched in Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2. It added performance updates and the functionality to totally disable CIFS/SMB 1.0 compatibility, as well as terminating the associated binaries.

  7. Server Message Block 3.1.1 (2015)

    Introduced with Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016, this SMB dialect featured additional support for enhanced encryption, cluster dialect fencing, and preauthentication integrity to block man-in-the-middle attacks, among more updates.

Steps To Build Server Message Block Network

  1. Choose a Network Router

    The router is what connects your local area network (LAN) with the public internet. Although there are wired routers that you can use, you can also select modern routers most of which typically supply wireless connection to the other components of your system. All devices and systems on your Local Area Network can establish a connection to the internet through the router.

    A lot of routers have dual functionality as the LAN server and supply each computer with its individual IP address. The IP address is an identification number that enables the computers to transmit and receive messages to the server and other network computers. When selecting a router, be sure to choose one that has a built-in firewall; to protect your system from unauthorized access.

    Also, you should safeguard the router’s wireless connection by employing a WPA or WPA2 security system and pick a personalized admin password that is known to only you. Considering the complexity that is involved in properly configuring routers, it is recommended that you hire the assistance of an IT professional.

  2. You Should Wire Your Network

    Even after choosing a wireless router, it is necessary to wire your Local Area Network through Ethernet cables. This will facilitate the quicker transfer of data and higher rates of response, especially if you frequently send or stream multimedia files.

    You also need to ascertain if your computers are compatible with Gigabit Ethernet, which utilizes Cat5e cables, or Fast Ethernet, which utilizes Cat5e cables. Although there are swifter alternatives on the market, these Ethernet options are appropriate for several small business needs. Moreover, they are cost-effective compared to higher versions.

  3. Use Adaptors and Other Peripherals to Outfit Devices

    It is a must for every client computer to possess an adaptor that enables it to establish a connection to the wireless router. The majority of computers and laptops are equipped with both integrated wireless functionalities and Ethernet ports, while tablets and smartphone devices also have wireless capabilities. However, if your device is lacking these inbuilt capabilities, then you can buy an adaptor separately.

    In most cases, routers are equipped with 4 Ethernet ports, which means you can also get a switch to extend the number of wired devices that can be connected. You can also make use of a hub to create more connections, however, it lacks the administrative features of the router switch.

  4. Establish the File Sharing System

    After connecting your devices, you can proceed to set up the Server Message Block protocol directly in Windows. The OS enables you to automatically establish and launch a small network utilizing the homegroup capability, which can be found in the Control Panel under Network and Internet.

    After creating the homegroup, you can share any resource, printer, or file on a connected computer by right-clicking on the icon for the file in question and clicking the Sharing option under Properties.

    In the case of a bigger client-server network that is not supported by the homegroup, you will be required to create a different Windows server to manage the Server Message Block protocol. You have to select a system that can be set up with ease and provides seamless networking capabilities; a recommended option for small organizations is NAS (network-attached storage), which does not only act as a server but also demands that you only activate your essential services and settings.

    This facilitates a sufficient learning curve for business executives who are newbies in networking. Furthermore, NAS has multiple functionalities as FTP (file transfer protocol), web server, and email server. Although, this kind of system will only grant you access control and authorizations for files that are locally stored on NAS. On the other hand, a traditional service will grant you control access for the whole network.

    Even though rack-mount servers are very costly, they are however an excellent investment for small organizations because of their durability. Tower servers are created to be arranged with other peripherals; however, this usually leads to a mess and the possibility of hazards like spills and trips. To achieve the best outcomes, servers should be placed in a different, secure room to eliminate tampering and decrease noise.

    If this is impossible, then select a server that has integrated sound-dampening features. You would have to get a different air conditioner for cooling the server. The separate air conditioner should not be fixed to the central HVAC system of the building.

  5. Source Protection for Your Network

    In the case of a lightning storm or other potentially disastrous weather situations with negative effects on electricity, a power surge protector will keep your computers and devices secure. By initiating this kind of protection, in addition to battery backup, you can prevent the event of data loss.

    You should carry out regular automatic data backups and inspect the backed-up data routinely to ensure it is not corrupt. A lot of servers incorporate these components; you can even consider cloud-based backup if you use a peer-to-peer network.

Is Server Message Secure?

Sometime in 2017, Microsoft released a security advisory with respect to its Windows SMB protocol. The Shadow Brokers hacking group exposed a zero-day vulnerability. This is a software or hardware malfunction that causes unregistered access that is unknown to the administrator. Thus, to ensure data and system security, the following best practices are recommended:

  • Consider the installation of a third-party security network.
  • Make sure the router is located in a secure environment where intruders can not physically reset it to gain access.
  • If remote access is needed, then utilize a VPN: virtual private network.
  • Replace the default admin security code with something long and difficult to decipher. It’s best to use a mixture of special characters, lowercase and capital letters, numbers etc.

Difference Between Samba and SMB

Originally, SAMBA was a Server Message Block (SMB). However, the name was changed because the SMB Server was actually a product. SMB was the forerunner to CIFS. Both SMB and CIFS are protocols. Samba on the one hand uses the Common Internet File System (CIFS) network protocol. This is how Samba is able to interact with later MS Windows systems.

Since CIFS is the extension of the Server Message Block protocol, whenever a user shares out SMB through Samba to a legacy system still implementing NetBIOS, it will automatically establish a connection to the Samba server through port 197, 138, 1399, while CIFS is dominantly port 445.

Difference Between Common Internet File System (CIFS) and Server Message Block

CIFS SMB
It was originally created at IBM in the early 1980s It is an upgraded version of CIFS developed by Microsoft for the launch of Windows 95 in the early 1990s
It has challenges such as delay in service requests and responses, slow time transfer, and security issues. It overcame the performance challenges of CIFS and boosted computing requests
It had tons of commands and subcommands, which made it difficult for users to maintain SMB reduced the number of these commands from hundreds to just 19, making it easier for clients to use
It lacked authentication checks and standard transparency of files It uses AES Algorithm to secure files on the server. The recent SMB version even has a preauthentication check where clients are required to provide their username and password before access to files is granted.

Which One to Use CIFS or SMB?

In the real sense of it, CIFS and SMB are both similar in their capabilities. In fact, it is safe to say that CIFS is a variant of SMB. Typically, CIFS is used in big companies with a set of employees that are tasked to work on large or enormous data that is to be accessed by the business owners or clients.

However, it is usually recommended that SMB is a better option over SMB for certain reasons. To begin with, the data storage size for SMB is higher than the CIFS protocol. Also, SMB is an advanced-level application network protocol, but CIFS is only a TCP/IP Protocol.

In addition, CIFS gained notoriety as a “chatty software” with a large bug and suffered from network problems. However, SMB replaced it with a high-level mechanism.

SMB Authentication Protocol

Server Message Block has 2 phases of security authentication: user authentication and share authentication. For the user check, the client is required to provide their username and password. The user will be granted access to the request on the server only after this authentication is finished.

The share check is the access grant that is controlled by a security code that is allocated to the share or file over the network. This second authentication check does not need the username to get access to the file. Instead, it requires a security code that is associated with the secured, and therefore no user identity is saved during the process.

Final Thoughts

In all, the Server Message Block has been implemented in the different Windows editions. Today, the protocol is being integrated into several other software projects so as to facilitate communication beyond the Microsoft community. With the Server Message Block protocol, you can enjoy access to file systems. Why don’t you join the many leading businesses that are leveraging on the SMB benefits of enhanced client-server connection between devices and file servers?

Team Writer

Team Writer | TechFunnel.com is an ambitious publication dedicated to the evolving landscape of marketing and technology in business and in life. We are dedicated to sharing unbiased information, research, and expert commentary that helps executives and professionals stay on top of the rapidly evolving marketplace, leverage technology for productivity, and add value to their knowledge base.

Team Writer

Team Writer | TechFunnel.com is an ambitious publication dedicated to the evolving landscape of marketing and technology in business and in life. We are dedicate...

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