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Mapping network drives

"Mapping a drive" is Windows-speak for the procedure that binds a local drive letter to some shared resource available on your local network. You can then quickly access, for example, \\\PC_DIST — the SCS Windows software distribution folder — as, say, the drive M: on your machine. This shortcut works in either the Windows graphical interface or a command prompt.

As usual in Windows, you have at least three ways to accomplish this task:

  • Browse manually
  • Connect from the Desktop
  • Connect via the net use command

Browse the network

You can browse the network using the Windows graphical interface, a slow but sometimes informative strategy. Begin at "My Network Places" on either the Desktop or Start menu, then:
  1. Go to "Entire Network" > "Microsoft Windows Network" > "SCS"
  2. Doubleclick the computer sharing the resource you want, e.g. "Monolith." Shared resources on that host will appear
  3. Right-click the shared drive or folder that you want to map, then click "Map Network Drive"
  4. Select the drive letter to use, and specify whether you want to reconnect at every logon. By default, Windows assigns drive letters starting from "Z"

Connect from "My Computer" or "Windows Explorer"

To connect more directly from your Desktop, you can right-click either:
  • "My Computer" or "My Network Places"
  • "Start" then select "Explore" > "Tools"
In either case, select "Map Network Drive" on the menu displayed, then:
  1. Select a drive letter in the "Drive" box
  2. In the "Folder" box, type the UNC path for server and shared resource in the following format [Note the leading double-backslash]: \\<server_name>\<share_name>

The net use command

Typically the interactive choice of Wizards or for batch scripts, this strategy derives from DOS:
  1. Go to "Start" > "Run"
  2. In the "Open" box, enter cmd
  3. Enter net use <drive_letter> <UNC_path>, for example: net use M: \\\PC_DIST
Authentication typically proceeds in one of the following ways:
  • If your machine belongs to the SCS domain and you are logged in with your SCS domain account, your stored credentials will apply and you will not get a password query
  • If you are accessing resources from a host outside the SCS domain, or if you want to use credentials other than those you have on your local machine, you will need to specify user and password explicitly

The following examples illustrate several variations on the strategy just described:

net use * \\\pc_dist /user:SCS\bovik
Map the remote directory to the next available drive letter, using credentials for the SCS domain user "bovik", and prompt for Harry's password.
net use w: \\\pc_dist boviks_password /\bovik
Pass Harry's password in the clear. Fully specified names may work if the previous form fails to resolve "Monolith" or "SCS"
net use w: \\monolith\pc_dist /persistent:y
Make the connection persistent and prompt to re-enter the password at next logon. Use the savecred switch on Windows XP to reconnect
net use w: /delete
Unmap network drive W:
net use
List your currently mapped network drives