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10.6: Slow SMB browsing of Windows Servers fixed Network
Snow Leopard only hintBy default in Mac OS X browsing to Windows 2008 and 2003 Servers is extremely slow, navigating from one directory level to the next can take a minute or longer. I utilize my Mac to access the office Windows 2008 and 2003 file servers and the speed to access these shares makes it almost impossible to work from a Mac.

To make things even worse I do most of my work through a Cisco SSL VPN loaded on my Mac from home over a broadband connection. Out of pure frustration I started playing with settings in my SMB configuration and have found a way in Mac OS 10.6.7 to speed the process up drastically to where navigating folders is almost instantaneous (including over my VPN). This makes the Mac work just as fast as my Windows 7 workstation when connecting to Windows servers.

In order to fix the slow SMB browsing you will need to edit the smb.conf file on your Mac. The file is only editable by the user root so you'll need to use a text editor that can authenticate (like BBEdit or TextWrangler) or do this in the Terminal. I did the latter. I had root enabled and used the 'su' command, but you can just use 'sudo' with your administrator account to accomplish the same thing.

Once the file has been edited and saved you will need to restart your mac for the changes to take effect. Mac OS X being Unix at the core utilizes the Samba daemon to access Windows networks and the smb.conf file controls how Samba accesses these Windows shares. 2br
  • Launch the Terminal (Applications/Utilities/Terminal).
  • You can use the vi or the pico editors included with Mac OS X to edit the smb.conf file by typing sudo vi /etc/smb.conf or sudo pico /etc/smb.conf.
  • You will be prompted for a password, utilize the password for your admin account.
  • I used vi. In order to change anything within the file you will need to put vi into insert mode by typing the letter i (at the bottom you will see the word insert).
    Some handy vi editor tips: vi has 2 modes: 'Command Mode' and 'Insert Mode.' To switch between modes you use the letter i in Command Mode to switch to Insert Mode and when in Insert Mode you use the Escape key to switch to Command Mode. File saves are done in Command Mode and edits to the file are done in Insert Mode. You can search the file you are editing in Command Mode by typing /searchstring where searchtring is what you are looking for in the file.
  • Scroll down to the line use spnego = yes and change the yes to a no.
  • Continue to scroll down to stream support = yes and change this to no, on the line immediately below that says ea support = yes change this to no.
  • In the next group that says darwin_streams:brlm = yes change this to no.
  • Save the file by first taking vi out of insert mode by pressing the Escape key. Then to save the file and quit vi type :wq and press Return.
  • Restart your Mac.
This simple fix for slow SMB browsing decreased the time to open shares and files on my Windows 2008 server from my Mac drastically.

[crarko adds: I haven't tested this one. I'd suggest making a backup copy of smb.conf before trying these edits, in case you need to revert. If you use TextWrangler or BBEdit, the file you're looking to change is /private/etc/smb.conf.]
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  You rated: 2 / 5 (8 votes cast)

10.6: Slow SMB browsing of Windows Servers fixed | 16 comments | Create New Account
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10.6: Slow SMB browsing of Windows Servers fixed
Authored by: bhall7 on May 04, '11 08:44:44AM

It's my understanding that Apple is ditching Samba with OS X Lion, anyway. Perhaps this is one of the reasons. ( Thoughts?

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10.6: Slow SMB browsing of Windows Servers fixed
Authored by: extra88 on May 04, '11 10:51:43AM

Apple is ditching Samba (and uses a rather outdated version on 10.6) because Samba switched the licensing from GPLv2 to GPLv3. They haven't stated what their concern is with GPLv3 but the general impression is depending on how Samba is incorporated into Mac OS software, parts of Apple's software may have to be open sourced according to the license's terms.

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10.6: Slow SMB browsing of Windows Servers fixed
Authored by: ADent on May 06, '11 12:29:34AM

GPL v3 releases patents for any users - so if there were any Apple patents involved in the SMB code, anybody that buys Lion is covered.

Apple can't refuse to run modified code (TiVoization).

Any code is released from DMCA.

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10.6: Slow SMB browsing of Windows Servers fixed
Authored by: arkayn on May 04, '11 09:03:18AM
You can also use TextEdit if you launch it via the terminal.
sudo /Applications/ /private/etc/smb.conf

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10.6: Slow SMB browsing of Windows Servers fixed
Authored by: stepwallace on May 04, '11 02:39:18PM
Some people might find this easier to remember.
sudo open -a TextEdit /private/etc/smb.conf

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10.6: Slow SMB browsing of Windows Servers fixed
Authored by: bvdecicco on May 04, '11 09:15:31AM

Is it possible to take this new samba.config file and share it amongst all of our Macs running in this Windows shop I'm in?

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10.6: Slow SMB browsing of Windows Servers fixed
Authored by: geordie on May 04, '11 09:26:42AM

Just to be clear this "fix" disables, Kerberos, Extended Attributes and the saving of Finder metadata in streams. It is unlikely that all of those are required and whichever one fixes it, might help you troubleshoot what is wrong with your server.

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10.6: Slow SMB browsing of Windows Servers fixed
Authored by: batmanppc on May 04, '11 09:30:36AM

Note to those that use SMB to share to Windows: setting spnego to 'no' will prevent Windows 7 (possibly Vista also) from connecting to the Mac.

Mohammad A. Haque

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10.6: Slow SMB browsing of Windows Servers fixed
Authored by: mr_kitty on May 04, '11 10:02:09AM


"use spnego (G)

This variable controls controls whether samba will try to use Simple and Protected NEGOciation (as specified by rfc2478) with WindowsXP and Windows2000 clients to agree upon an authentication mechanism.

Unless further issues are discovered with our SPNEGO implementation, there is no reason this should ever be disabled.

Default: use spnego = yes"

Another point in the man page explicitly says disabling spnego will disable Kerberos.

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Strange, my system already works fine
Authored by: lullabud on May 04, '11 10:07:48AM

Interesting that this is needed. I just tested against a remote Win2k3 server and had no issues opening up dozens of folders that I'd never accessed via Finder's Samba client before and had zero latency problems. I'm not part of a highly tuned environment either, mostly stock, I'm curious as to what is the underlying problem that requires this fix.

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10.6: Slow SMB browsing of Windows Servers fixed
Authored by: afingal on May 04, '11 11:18:23AM

There are some issues which seem to be related to the configuration of Windows servers. Default configurations, in my experience, have no problems with Mac clients. Yet, at the university where I work, we see these problems, with performance and, in some cases, also with Macs being able to connect to a share but not see the contents (files and folders are missing.) Ironically, it seems to happen with the file servers which have been in use for a long time and were configured specifically to work with Macs. Unfortunately, I have not been able to pin down the Windows system administrators and find out what is really going on. There is a Windows Server package called "Services for Macintosh" and I wonder if that, or outdated versions of it, could be the problem.

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10.6: Slow SMB browsing of Windows Servers fixed
Authored by: cashxx on May 04, '11 11:46:42AM

Or do this:

Edited on May 04, '11 11:49:02AM by cashxx

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10.6: Slow SMB browsing of Windows Servers fixed
Authored by: agentx on May 04, '11 11:59:27AM

I am unconvinced this will solve "everyone's" slow browsing problems in every situation.
It is a specific fix for your setup and would probably break things in other situations such as Kerberos.

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10.6: Slow SMB browsing of Windows Servers fixed
Authored by: fsjjeff on May 04, '11 03:42:04PM

I think this is a bit of a complicated issued based on the Macs ability to resolve the Windows user and group GUIDs from Active Directory that are used to define the file share permissions.

I manage 4000 Macs for a school district, all bound to AD, and I've seen the ssllllooooowwwww SMB browsing when the AD communication breaks, and the Mac can no longer resolve the AD GUIDs.

In other words, the Mac logs onto the SMB server, tries to figure out it's permissions, sees the ACLs defined to GUID ########, tries to resolve that but can't, spins it's rainbow wheel for a while, then moves onto the next ACL, repeat, then the next, then finally to the next file/folder and repeats the process.

Unbinding and rebinding has resolved the issue for us, but if your Mac is not bound to AD, or if communication to the AD domain is otherwise interrupted, I'd say it's quite possible that this issue would also appear.

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10.6: Slow SMB browsing of Windows Servers fixed
Authored by: di_d99 on May 06, '11 07:44:34AM

I have to agree with agentx, this WILL NOT fix everyone's slow SMB browsing issue, I have been dealing with this issue since we refreshed 100+ macs in our 90% PC dominated environment. I have spoken with Applecare Enterprise Support engineers and they stated " it is a know issue with engineering and that hopefully they will find a resolve". They then proceeded to tell me they would refund our $700 payment for the price of our ticket. This was their exact response:

"I'm just following up on our phone conversation. Engineering is currently aware and is investigating the issue where 10.6 SMB browsing is slower than expected in the finder.

We understand that performance in 10.5 seemed better, this is because of issues with 10.5 not properly reading ACLs. This meant that 10.5 clients were pulling much less data when loading the contents of an SMB share.

Unfortunately to resolve the issues that 10.5 had with SMB, some performance had to be sacrificed. As you have observed, when an SMB share has many folders, in your 700 or more, the 10.6 finder takes quite some time to read the contents.

We expect that performance will be much better in Lion. As I suggested sign up for a Mac Developer Account if possible, that you will give you access to the Developer Releases of Lion so that you can do further testing for your Mac OS X Deployment. "

I have tried all the fixes I can find on the websites, from changing the way the user logs in (EX: Domain\user) to modifying the smb.conf and creating nsmb.conf files. I would really love to but this issue to rest once and for all.

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10.6: Slow SMB browsing of Windows Servers fixed
Authored by: owhiso26 on Nov 25, '11 07:15:31PM

Thanks to the person who posted this fix, or workaround.

I manage a huge media library (>1.5 TB) located on a NAS. Connecting via AFP has had various permissions issues that I won't go into here, and has also not been particularly speedy. Connecting via SMB had no permissions issues, but browsing the folder structure has been painfully slow. My workaround thus far has been to use a Windows desktop specifically for this task, with which I have had neither permissions nor timing issues.

Having edited the SMB.CONF according to these instructions, I can now get the job done under OS X. It's a real shame that this otherwise sleek and efficient operating system has such problems with standard networking protocols. I'm working with 10.6.8, and holding off on the upgrade to 10.7 in the hope that these issues will be internally resolved sometime soon.

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