The NFS service enables computers of different architectures that run different operating systems to share file systems across a network. NFS support has been implemented on many platforms that range from the MS-DOS to the VMS operating systems.
The NFS environment can be implemented on different operating systems because NFS defines an abstract model of a file system, rather than an architectural specification. Each operating system applies the NFS model to its file-system semantics. This model means that file system operations such as reading and writing function as though the operations are accessing a local file.
The NFS service has the following benefits:
Enables multiple computers to use the same files so that everyone on the network can access the same data
Reduces storage costs by having computers share applications instead of needing local disk space for each user application
Provides data consistency and reliability because all users can read the same set of files
Makes mounting of file systems transparent to users
Makes accessing of remote files transparent to users
Supports heterogeneous environments
Reduces system administration overhead
The NFS service makes the physical location of the file system irrelevant to the user. You can use the NFS implementation to enable users to see all the relevant files regardless of location. Instead of placing copies of commonly used files on every system, the NFS service enables you to place one copy on one computer's disk. All other systems access the files across the network. Under NFS operation, remote file systems are almost indistinguishable from local file systems.