15 or so years after I started using it, Windows File Sharing doesn't seem to have benefited from any improvements. I still have the excruciatingly long timeout delays, the need to authenticate via passwords if I'm not running a Windows domain, and the tendency to do everything in a single-threaded model such that if anything unexpected happens with the network, it can lock up the desktop UI and require termination of Windows Explorer.
And yet, it has certain advantages. It integrates very well with Windows Explorer, for instance, and you can even map UNC paths as drive letters.
All these years later, is there any alternative for my Windows clients to read and sometimes write files over a network that is as (potentially) convenient?
Think about how Daemon Tools (and all its clones over the years) add a virtual drive to your computer and it just works, you can go from there. Is there anything I can use that, once set up, is just as easy for the client to use, a little nicer to my PC if the network hiccups, and maybe even, a little more secure and easy to manage without a Windows domain than keeping track of all those passwords?
Let's say that my client PC's are all running Windows and I can't change this. For the server, there's more flexibility. I know Linux has done the SMB server for years and I'm open to this, but it would have to improve the client experience and/or make it easier to manage.