The death of AFP


Apple Filing Protocol or AFP for short was Apple’s network filing system which was used to store files on network drives and on network shared computers. It is no longer available in Big Sur. So where did is come from and why doesn’t it work now?

Apple Filing Protocol

Apple Filing Protocol, formerly called AppleTalk Filing Protocol has it’s roots in the networking of the Apple Lisa computer and interoperability through AppleNet and then through their slower speed AppleBus which enabled the keyboard, mouse and printers to be connected to a group of computers.

AppleTalk became the communication method for file and printer sharing before the Internet.

During the Internet years of the 1990s, Apple had a hard time justifying a system designed to connect devices in one local area network to other networks and across the Internet.

When Steve Jobs returned and Apple acquired Next and then started working on the MacOS X project, the need for AppleTalk and AFP was fading away, as support for the Common Internet Filing System grew, which is what Microsoft uses for it’s network filing system, but originated from IBM. It was discontinued by the release of 10.6, aka Snow Leopard in 2009 in favour of USB devices.

Snow Leopard was the gateway operating system release that saw the end of the PowerMac line and introduction to the Intel Macs.

Mac OS 11 - Big Sur

AppleTalk was an early Zero Configuration system, which has evolved into Bonjour.

As of Mac OS 11 – Big Sur, support for both AFP and AppleTalk have been completely removed from the operating system. This is because AFP doesn’t work with Apple’s new Performance File System, APFS.

Apple’s AirDrop uses Bonjour to securely transfer files between iOS users and Mac users; print to printers without needing drivers through AirPrint and play audio and video through AirPlay.

Apple used to sell AirPort devices that you could plug in that would enable devices to connect to the Internet via WiFi; print to printers over USB and play music through a 3.5mm socket as well as on the Time Capsule, served as a network storage device for Time Machine backups until 2018. Apple disbanded their wireless device division to focus more on hardware lines that were more profitable.

Rise of AFP on the Raspberry Pi

While Apple has removed support for AFP and AppleTalk from their products, you can install Netatalk onto a Raspberry Pi (or any Linux/BSD machine) and service AFP to older Macs. PiUpMyLife shows you how to do that here.

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