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How do I Map Network Drives?

By Carol Francois
Updated Feb 20, 2024
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The process used to map network drives varies, depending on the operation system in place. The purpose of mapping a network drive is to assign a drive letter to a hard drive located on another computer within the network. Once this process is complete, the user can access files, programs, and applications stored on the network drive in the same manner as files located on his or her local machine.

The naming systems used to map network drives is very simple. The drive is always identified by a single letter. In general, the disk drive is known as A. This is the bootable drive, as many older programs are configured to look at this drive for any information required to initiate the system. Drive C is commonly known as the primary hard drive on the local machine. Duplication is not permitted, so the user is free to assign any letter to the network drive, as long as it is not in use elsewhere in the system.

In most systems, the process required to map network drives is fairly simple. There are two steps: create the drive on the networked computer and provide permission to the local machine to access the drive. The actual steps required will differ, based on the operating system and network technology in place. In a managed desktop environment, the end user is unable to make any modifications. Instead, this work is completed by the information technology support staff.

To create a new drive on the networked computer, access the control panel. Using the tools provided, create and name a new network drive. It is important to note that a network drive can also be an external hard drive or storage center. Once the drive is created, access the properties and allow the folder to be shared instead of private. The shared setting will allow it to be accessible by other computers on the network.

Depending on the size of the computer network and the management tools in place, access can be immediately granted to all computers on the network or can be allocated individually. If access is granted individually, the system administrator will need to log into each workstation and manually add the drive access to the system configuration.

For the typical user, once the work to map network drives is completed, the process is seamless. To access programs or files stored on the network drives, simply view all the accessible drives and select the network drive required. Once the selection is made, files can be accessed. It is important to note that each drive can have different permission levels, controlling the ability to add, modify, or delete files on the shared drive.

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