AFS is a file-sharing system comparable to NFS, Apple File Protocol, NetBIOS, or Netware Core Protocol. It allows client work stations to access files from a remote file server. If you are familiar with standard UNIX file systems or NFS, the main differences are the new file permissions and authentication system.
AFS provides several advantages over other file-sharing protocols:
- AFS provides better network performance. Other protocols tend to be impractical for serving large numbers of workstations.
- The AFS server authenticates users, not machines. This allows people with a Stanford account to access their files from any machine on campus that mounts AFS, including any Unix machine running AFS client software and Macintosh and Windows machines outfitted with Stanford OpenAFS.
- AFS allows greater control over access to one's files. Individuals can selectively grant file access privileges to individuals or user-created groups. This is ideal for group projects.
- AFS has limited provisions for users to recover their own files.
Some of the major goals of the system are minimizing the burdens of system administration and providing a common basic level of service to all UNIX users at Stanford.
See the AFS at Stanford web page for more information.