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Sharing files with Windows without Samba Network
I was continually frustrated with SMB in OS X 10.2. It is extremely unreliable, crashes the Finder, and times out for large files. So, I found the simple solution, both of which I think also work in 10.1: use FTP Access or Personal Web Sharing (Apache). In the Sharing system prefs pane, check one of them.

If you use Personal Web Sharing, put the files you want to transfer in ~/Sites, then on the Windows machine, go to http://ip/~shortusername/ to access your files. If you want to do bidirectional transfers (i.e., from Windows to Mac and vice versa), use FTP Access. On the Windows machine, connect to the Mac using your short username and password.

Using either method, you can only browse your home directory, but that's where you should be storing documents and such anyway. If you're concerned about security, use something like Norton Personal Firewall (I use it on my iBook because I use multiple wireless networks).

I'm now happily transferring files at 600 KB/sec over Airport to Windows after struggling for weeks with Samba!
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Sharing files with Windows without Samba | 21 comments | Create New Account
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hmm, this doesn't really do it
Authored by: Jay D on Oct 16, '02 10:43:04AM
Sure, there are many ways to transfer files between machines, and HTTP and FTP are perfectly reasonable protocols, but isn't the point of SMB to be able to mount the volume on a Windows machine? i.e., FTP and HTTP are pretty useless if you want to, say, open, edit and save a document. Has anyone found a free Windows NFS client? There seem to be lots of commercial packages, so that's an option if SMB really sucks.

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hmm, this doesn't really do it
Authored by: filburt1 on Oct 16, '02 11:38:47AM

True, but working with files open over the network isn't necessarily a good idea, especially for speed purposes. The idea here is just for transfers; if you want to edit a document, you can FTP it to your Windows machine, edit the local copy, then FTP it back.

I was using it for stuff to burn on my PC because I don't have a burner in my iBook, and Samba wouldn't work for big files.

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hmm, this doesn't really do it
Authored by: Jay D on Oct 17, '02 02:03:35AM
working with files open over the network isn't necessarily a good idea

Why not? I use AFP between my Macs, and keep a single home directory. Works fine for me (Even opening big Photoshop crap on a mounted AFP volume). If I wasn't going between Macs, I'd use NFS, which many people do for mounting huge volumes. Or, if I was very ambitous, AFS. I agree that FTP/HTTP are fine for your one-way situation (as long as you're not going over an open network, of course), but I still don't think they're a reasonable way to work in a read/write sense on remote files. The copying back and forth seems overly complex when the machines are networked anyway.

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Samba Sharing Package
Authored by: Numbski on Oct 16, '02 10:44:24AM

Just wanted to point out that using Samba Sharing Package makes life a lot easier on the SMB sharing side of things.

Also wanted to mention that your timeouts aren't just in samba, I've had those kinds of problems with windows networking general for years. :P

If you want to be really cool, hunt around on some p2p system for Win2k server as opposed to using win2k. Disable all the extra services running and it's identical to it's desktop counterpart with one REALLY big difference.



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Authored by: macman13 on Oct 16, '02 01:04:29PM

Not to flame ya or anything ...

But I work with my TiBook on a windows network. I store all
of my documents on a windows share volume that I have aliased
on my Mac. I have yet to have a single problem with
SMB. (small or large files) Maybe I'm just lucky. But Samba
has been used successfully for a long time by Unix folks.
Long before OSX got here. I used to use it all the time
on my linux box before OSX came out. Same network no problems.

So before we dog samba, you should check your network. I got a
feeling your timeouts are due to Airport and it's slow
connection and not necessarily Samba. I use my airport card
with another mac at home so I could not check your set-up
with a Windows network. You could always set-up Appletalk
if you have w2000 server as mentioned previously. Then you could
make an appletalk connection over ssh and mount drives that way.
But as slow as you wireless connection will be, ftp may not be a bad

Good Luck.

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FTP is still the fastest !
Authored by: tarkin on Oct 16, '02 02:29:21PM

Samba works great, but any FTP solution is faster.
Try it and see for yourself ;-)

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FTP is still the fastest !
Authored by: iMMersE on Oct 16, '02 06:40:03PM

I dunno, I'm getting speeds of close to 5Mb/s using samba and FTP - For me at least, using a 100Mbps through a hub, there are no real differences with speed, not that I've noticed anyway. Samba is my choice du jour, you can mount the drives, and edit files in place. I've not had any problems with Samba, so I'm hoping (unfortunately, for the author) that his experience is an expection rather than the rule.

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FTP is still the fastest !
Authored by: filburt1 on Oct 16, '02 07:07:10PM

FYI, I'm using 10.2.1, upgraded from 10.2.0, from 10.1.5 and maybe a previous version before that when I first bought the iBook.

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FTP is still the fastest !
Authored by: necrosis on Oct 17, '02 04:56:59AM

Yes FTP may be fast but there is one thing that FTP dosent allow. Running of files without coping the file to your computer. I do this ALOT. Mostly with divx files and MP3's.

I also have had NO trouble with samba in OSX. Granted Apple really screwed up in desinging it cause the samba options are all over the OS, and there is no 'easy' way to add shares other than editing the smb.conf file manually. And yes, I have tried to enable SWAT, but I tried EVERY tip here and I constantly get the same error, even on a squeky clean install.

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Authored by: metiure on Oct 16, '02 01:24:48PM

I agree with most answers.
Another point is you can only use SMB over a VPN bridge, if i'm not wrong.
In my case, i log to the university VPN (Win2000) and i must use SMB.


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Authored by: cpatch on Oct 16, '02 01:34:03PM

I use SMB without a VPN with no problems.


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Authored by: Hedderik on Oct 16, '02 04:38:37PM

With all do respect, isn't this "tip" sort of similar of saying "I discovered that I can use floppies to share files between Windows and my Mac"? (Or, if one has a floppy-less Mac, an usb-disk)

Indeed, OS X comes with FTP and http servers, and indeed, one can use FTP and HTTP to transfer files from one system to another, but it's a bit far fetched to call this "sharing". (A bit like the misnomer of "automount" in OSX, which means "automatically mounting at boot up", instead of the more commonly used meaning "automatically (un)mounting when (no longer) necessary".)

- Hedderik.

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Authored by: filburt1 on Oct 16, '02 07:05:41PM

Henddrick: I'm talking 700 MB files, not 1.44 MB. Also it's not like I'll spend $40 for an external USB floppy drive and continue to support such a lame dead technology.

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Authored by: springroll on Oct 16, '02 07:22:21PM

With all due respect, it's not "all do respect".

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Authored by: Hedderik on Oct 17, '02 10:08:46AM

I'm sorry, I should have spellchecked better (but well, not everyone is a native English speaker), and probably also made more clear that I was ironic. I do understand that floppies are not very practical anymore, but this "tip" is so obvious, that I tried to made that clear by ridiculizing. A better example might have been to compare it to suggesting to use a keyboard for input instead of sending electrical signals directly.

I seems to me that the first comment is right on, this "tip" is not about sharing, but about "transfering" files, and suggesting to use the File Transfer Protocol (FTP) to transfer files is a bit, well, euhm...

So, I probably should have refrained from commenting, but I cannot find a way to delete my old comment.

- Hedderik.

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Authored by: ajmas on Oct 16, '02 05:57:45PM

This is where it would be nice to be able to share files via WebDAV. Since Windows and MacOS X can both mount such shares this would be cool. The only catch is that currently there is no way to share such files from the Mac, unless you install Apache Tomcat, and there is no way to browse the network to discover other computers with WebDAV shares, a la Appeshare or SMB.

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Authored by: Anonymous on Oct 16, '02 07:32:53PM

Can you not just install and enable mod_dav for apache?
Or have I missed something?

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Authored by: vonleigh on Oct 17, '02 02:03:49AM

Already installed. Do a google for instructions on setting it up.


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But 10.2 SMB doesn't work...
Authored by: lamon on Oct 17, '02 05:57:00AM

I second the author of the article. I'm trying to use SMB (client side on the mac) with a Win95 machine on y home network. Contrarily to many people, it has been perfectly working since 10.0 for me. I have now upgraded to Jag and it doesn't work anymore. I can mount the partitions, but every file transfer fails after a meg or so. At which point, it is not possible to unmount, commands such as 'df' never return and the only solution seems to force-reboot the machine (with, of course,a long fsck).

However, since the machine on the other side is W95, the only useable solution I have found is ftp (client) from the windows machine. Frustrating.

Anybody has that kind of problem?

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Authored by: balthisar on Oct 17, '02 06:25:31AM

I\\\'ll just throw in my $0.02 -- I\\\'ve had no problems with SMB since I removed NTFS from my WinXP computer. NTFS causes a LOT of problems with the Windows-side of Windows file-sharing, not limited to only SMB. I\\\'ve never had a problem with the Mac sharing to the Windows box, though.

On the XP box I\\\'d tried everything to get some time of share to mount. From Windows\\\' shares to installing and configuring PCMacLan, NOTHING would work. I just couldn\\\'t connect to the darn XP box with ANY type of user name and password. Didn\\\'t work. Nada. Zilch. Nothing.

Finally I remembered something I\\\'d heard (but didn\\\'t believe) on \\\"The Screensavers\\\" -- that NTFS is nice but causes problems with file sharing. I did a clean install on the XP box with FAT32, and it worked right away flawlessy. I don\\\'t even have to worry about scandisk too much anymore (NTFS doesn\\\'t need it -- it\\\'s semi-journaled), since XP only crashes on me a few times a month. (As a side note, the Windows remote client is pretty cool, too -- it\\\'s like Virtual PC at fullish PC speed).

I\\\'m pretty sure there are instructions for setting up WebDAV on Mac OS X right here at There was a lot of interest in it when iTools became .Mac.

FTP isn\\\'t a very good solution, for most of the reasons everyone else already stated.

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Still using 10.1.5 and Samba
Authored by: tremblyj on Oct 18, '02 09:17:25AM


I haven't upgraded to 10.2 yet. I'm really nervous about the server software that I've downloaded, compiled and installed. I have Samba server, MySQL server, PHP, SSL and Webmin running perfectly on my QuickSilver G4 - 733MHZ -512MB. I have a share setup that can be accessed by IBM users whose NT domain accounts are mirrored on my machine (With OS X & Samba accounts. Webmin allowed me to setup automatic creation and deletion of the Samba accounts when I work with the OS X accounts in the Users preference panel.) and I have shared my printer to Windows users (This is for testing purposes only. Our printers all have their own network connections.) thanks to Webmin.

Once I got Samba configured correctly, I have had zero problems transferring files to and from my Mac. As for speed, I am connected to a 3COM 100Mb/s managed switch stack along with all other users on my LAN and have no timeouts or failures of any kind.

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