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I have seen forum posts out in the wild that suggest that AFP is "dead". I have seen this question and this post that states SMB is now the "default" protocol for Apple sharing.

I am using FreeNAS and it allows you to select either AFP or SMB shares. I mostly use Mac clients, so it would seem that AFP would be the obvious choice, but if AFP is going away in future versions of macOS, then I don't want to be stuck with shares I cannot access and/or file systems I have to migrate from AFP to some other system.

So what is fact and what is fiction about the future of AFP? Will it stop working in future versions of macOS? I don't see how this is possible since Time Machine requires it. Can I safely use AFP without worrying about it "dying" on me?

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  • Tl;DnR: Use SMB; you'll have better performances and compatibility. – Antzi Jun 1 '17 at 1:15
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Apple Filing Protocol is deprecated1, not "dead". There's a big distinction and that is being deprecated, it's still included and still works at the time of last development but it has been superseded by something else - in this case SMB2. It also means there will be no further development.

Will it stop working in future versions of macOS?

There will come a point in which Apple no longer includes support for a particular protocol or service. Only Apple will know this for certain.

Can I safely use AFP without worrying about it "dying" on me?

AFP is not going to die the same way cron didn't die when Apple went to launchd. If you are running AFP today, you will have AFP tomorrow. It won't be "upgraded out". That said, Apple can decide tomorrow that future versions of macOS will no longer come with AFP; that won't break your existing macOS installation.

What all this means is that as a deprecated protocol, manufacturers are going to stop including support for AFP in new products (like NAS devices) and systems admins should begin making plans to switch over to newer technologies. Also, being deprecated, it's no longer the default file sharing protocol meaning you will (eventually) have to take explicit steps to enable/connect to AFP shares.

It's important to note that AFP does not support the new APFS (Apple File System) so newer versions of macOS (Sierra going forward) will not have the ability to serve AFP shares.2

You can share APFS formatted volumes using the SMB network file sharing protocol. The AFP protocol is deprecated and cannot be used to share APFS formatted volumes.

Though, they will probably include the AFP client so it can continue to connect to legacy devices/systems.


1 Deprecated refers to a software or programming language feature that is tolerated or supported but not recommended. A deprecated attribute or feature is one that may eventually be phased out, but continues to be used in the meantime. Deprecation also helps to ward off backward compatibility issues, giving users time to migrate and begin using the newer recommended feature. The deprecated feature will continue to work in the current environment, but will show a warning message that the feature being used may be removed in future releases. Source: Techopedia.

2 Source: 9to5mac.com - Apple File System (APFS) announced for 2017, scales ‘from Apple Watch to Mac Pro’ and focuses on encryption

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The new APFS only can be shared over SMB and NFS.

AFP started deprecation in the fall of 2013 with 10.9 / Maverick

When that transition hits, the answer will be yes AFP file sharing protocol can be considered removed.

Of course, you will still have APFS for older OS versions and potentially on newer versions if you do not convert and are not forced to convert your HFS based file systems to APFS.

From the filesystems introduction of the link above:

HFS+ and its predecessor HFS are more than 30 years old. These file systems were developed in an era of floppy disks and spinning hard drives, when file sizes were calculated in kilobytes or megabytes.

A Developer Preview of Apple File System is available in macOS Sierra. Apple plans to release Apple File System as a bootable file system in 2017.

Time Machine is fully supported over SMB. We won't know when apple pulls the trigger on walking away from HFS and AFP, but the writing is already up on Apple's very public developer website wall.

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  • I won't speculate in the main body of my answer on workarounds to a probable outcome, but it is likely vendors like Paragon or Acronis are working on and/or would release a product to add APFS on top of MacOS like they do today on windows. – bmike May 31 '17 at 23:32
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No one can answer that question except Apple. Everything else is just rumours and conjecture.

However, the fact that Time Machine is based on AFP, and that AFP has seen many improvements to support Time Machine, could be seen as an indicator that AFP is here to stay for a little while.

Note that Time Machine is fully supported over SMB, so if you can setup SMB just as well as AFP now - then SMB is probably going to be supported for the longest period of time from now.

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    However, Time Machine now officially supports SMB (for sources see apple.stackexchange.com/a/375065/26637). – Blaisorblade Nov 13 '19 at 11:45
  • @BlaisorBlade Time Machine has supported SMB for quite a while actually (3+ years afair)... so the support for SMB being added was not an indication of AFP support going away right away. It has now been 2.5 years since the question was asked, and AFP has not gone away yet - so if you still have that setup with AFP, it hasn't died in the mean while. Ofcourse if we look another 2.5 years ahead, I would definitely bet on SMB and not AFP if those are the choices. – jksoegaard Nov 13 '19 at 12:26
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    I’m not sure we disagree, except that IMHO that info would improve the answer. When I read this answer, I still thought Time Machine did not support SMB, and then I learned. If AFP had no alternative, it’d be likely to stay for a long “little while” despite the deprecation. Since it has alternatives, it seems likely to stay for less time. – Blaisorblade Nov 13 '19 at 16:45
  • @Blaisorblade I have updated the answer with extra info! Thanks! – jksoegaard Nov 13 '19 at 22:27

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