I run a business that specializes in technology consulting. We’re a five person operation. As with most small businesses, we need to share files with each other. To solve that problem, our corporation purchased a WD MyCloud NAS with 8TB of storage from our friends over at Amazon.
As the entire office operates on Macbook Pros, we were in the habit of accessing this NAS over the standard AFP file protocol using Finder. Our connection strings generally looked something like this:
A week or so ago, I had a need to connect to this NAS via an Ubuntu virtual machine. AFP doesn’t work in Ubuntu out of the box, instead, Ubuntu connects via NFS. Thankfully the WD MyCloud line supports both AFP and NFS out of the box. I fire up the Ubuntu file explorer, connect via NFS, and am browsing at lightning speed.
Now why is this interesting?
It’s interesting because browsing the same files on bare metal (my Macbook) via AFP always had quite a bit of lag to it. Opening a folder full of images? We’d expect to wait 10 seconds to see all the images. Opening the same folder on my Ubuntu virtual machine was instant. I’m sitting here browsing this VM going “Whaaaaat? What is this sorcery?”
My gut told me to try a different file protocol. As it would turn out, Mac has full support for NFS on macOS Sierra, the current OS version I’m on. With a little modification to my connection string, I was soon browsing the same NAS at rapid speed directly on my Mac.
Learn from my mistakes. Yes, I know AFP is the default Mac file protocol, and yes, I know it’s necessary for reliable time machine. But for browsing files, go ahead and use NFS. This accidental discovery has already saved me a ton of time browsing files. It feels like I’m on a directly connected drive now on my laptop. The speed I would expect for a gigabit network. Amazing!
Let’s get it working
By default, the NFS server on the WD MyCloud NAS is disabled. You’ll need to turn it on before you can connect. But I’ll help ya out. 🙂 The settings you need are at:
Settings > Network > Network Services > NFS Service
Additionally, you’ll need to enable NFS on the share level as well. I’m going to help you on that one too:
Shares > Pick A Share > NFS (Switch this ON) > Configure > Turn the write switch ON.
Hands-down, the way to browse these WD MyCloud devices on Mac is via NFS. While this won’t help you for Time Machine, it’s blazing fast for general transfers, even over a VPN. Do your self a favor, turn this thing on. You’ll thank me later.
Hey Western Digital? I love your NAS line. I own two now, directed a client to purchase one, and one of my employees purchased another. We’re big fans. After browsing your NAS devices using NFS, I love it even move. I’d consider adding some documentation about these speed differences into your manual.