I've been spending a lot of time trying to learn different Network File Systems & File Transfer Protocols etc. in order to integrate three different devices with three different Operating Systems: Linux, Windows, Mac OS X.

In particular, I have ben looking into the following:
SMB/CIFS, AFP/Appletalk, FTP/SFTP, NFS, WebDAV (also Bonjour/Avahi, NetBIOS) etc.

This all seems kind of superfluous and not knowing exactly what I should or shouldn't implement has been stressing me out. Suddenly it occurs to me; Can't we do all this already with SSH? (SSHFS, SCP)?

  • 1
    This reminds me of the old saying: "Standards are great! There are so many to choose from".
    – dr_
    Commented Nov 2, 2015 at 8:41
  • 1
    For the same reason you don't speak Esperanto
    – Ron Trunk
    Commented Nov 2, 2015 at 13:36
  • also, famously, this xkcd: Standards Commented Nov 2, 2015 at 20:23

1 Answer 1


There are so may different file systems because there are so many different OS vendors, each thinking it has the best solution, and some file systems are designed for specific purposes, such as being optimized for databases, which may not be a good fit for other things, such as video streaming.

The various file transfer protocols come from changing needs. For instance, FTP adequately served its purpose for a long time, but the need to encrypt the data being transferred spurred the creation of SCP.

Old file systems and transfer protocols don't vanish overnight, and they may need to be supported for many years. Most vendors try to support older protocols because they don't want to alienate possible customers which may have a need to support older systems.

  • So what is the difference between SFTP & SCP?
    – voices
    Commented Oct 22, 2015 at 18:11
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    SCP was developed for Unix, while SFTP was developed as a direct replacement/extension for FTP through the RFC process. Again, it comes down to different groups, each thinking it has the correct solution. Vendors, looking to appeal to the widest audience, tend to adopt everything, except where they want lock-in (like file systems that they, themselves spend a lot of money developing). Competition can be good for everyone. Many times, different tools are designed to solve similar but different problems (hammer vs. screwdriver). You may as well ask why we have different car models.
    – Ron Maupin
    Commented Oct 22, 2015 at 18:21

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