Optimizing Network Homes with ExtremeZ-IP

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Network home directories are a feature of the Mac OS X client which if not implemented correctly can create a huge amount of load on the server. This article will discuss some ways to make network home directories work more smoothly.


One issue that many administrators face is that by default the cache files of some applications will be saved on the server even though these files will not be needed after the user logs out. Generally more than 50% of the file server traffic we see when troubleshooting a customer’s configuration will be for these temporary files. Prior to Mac OS X 10.6 the prefered solution to this was to redirect the cache directory and similar directories to the local hard drive using a login hook. ¬†Current best practice is to use Manage Preferences (MCX) to redirect the folders, more information about how to do that can be found in the links below.

Another common problem with network home directories is that the Mac mounts the folder that encloses the home directory. That folder also contains all the other home directories of people using that server. Although the user does not have access to any of the other people’s folder, when the user logs in the Mac must still retrieve the properties of each folder to determine which one is the correct folder for that user. In order to reduce the amount of load this puts on the server you can use ExtremeZ-IP’s Home Directory filtering feature. This feature hides all the other user’s folders which can take significant load off of the server (see the article below for more information).

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