Mavericks Slow SMB Transfer Issue

apple Apr 7, 2014

As part of my workflow, I use Photo Mechanic 5 to import the images from my memory cards into my Mac Pro. As part of the ingestion process, I have PM5 make a backup copy of all incoming files on my Thecus NAS. Everything was hunky-dory until the most recent update to Mavericks (10.9.2) where Apple switched over to SMB2 from SMB. If you are connecting to newer Windows machines, this is not an issue. But older devices (or Linux-based ones running Samba) don’t support SMB2 and data transfer rates suffer immensely because of it. Normally, a 1200 image session would take about an hour to process, but this transformed into a 21 hour torture session. This needed to be fixed now.

I have tried various workarounds to force my Mac back to SMB but they do not seem to make any difference. My Windows machines all talk to the NAS without issues. I tried to mount the share using NFS (Network File Sharing – a Unix/Linux network protocol) but I configured my NAS with ZFS (Zettabyte File System) which precludes the use of NFS. Another solution needed to be found.

I had noticed that if I FTP to my NAS, I can connect quickly and transfer files very rapidly over the local network. Using an FTP client (or even a command line script) was impractical as PM5 could not work with it directly and it would add an additional step in the process. What was needed was an FTP client that could mount FTP sites like local drives.

Searching around, I first tried a freeware solution, MacFusion. However, this application depends on MacFuse to be installed and the MacFuse project is dead and there is no support for Mavericks. Fuse for OS X supports Mavericks, but MacFusion is not setup to call it and the developers have also moved on to other projects. Searching around some more, I discovered ExpanDrive – a commercial utility that allows you to mount remote file systems as local drives. ExpanDrive supports: SSH (SFTP), FTP, Amazon S3, WebDAV, RackSpace Cloud Files, OpenStack Swift Storage, DreamHost DreamObjects,, Dropbox, and Google Drive.

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The native FTP server on my NAS is a little flaky so I loaded up a copy of Filezilla Server on one of my Windows servers. Once I configured my account to include a virtual folder pointing to my Photo share on my NAS, it was child’s play to set up ExpanDrive to mount that as a drive on my Mac. Now I can upload images to my backup location at full speed once again.

[DISCLOSURE: I purchased a copy of ExpanDrive after I tried the free trial. I have not contacted nor have been contacted by the developers in any way. Nor have I been compensated in any way (other than being able to upload my photos at reasonable speeds once again).]