You can map a drive letter on your computer and have it point to a folder on your computer or another computer on your network. That is convenient if you want to easily access a folder deep in your file system or on another computer. But the drive letter is an artificial designation. Your S: drive could be someone else's T: drive. How do you tell them exactly where to find a file?
Here's a step-by-step explanation of where a mapped drive is:
- A mapped drive is a shortcut to a folder on some computer on a network (it could even be your computer).
- Because everyone may map their letters to different locations you need to tell them the absolute location (this is called the UNC – for Universal Naming Convention – location).
- The UNC includes the server name and the share name of the shared folder. The share name may be different from its true name when viewed from the computer it resides on.
- If you look at My Computer, it tells you what folder is mapped to the drive letter; for example: shared on server (S:) (exact format may vary by version of Windows.)
- The first thing before the server name is two backslashes (\\). Each folder is separated by a single backslash. Starting with “\\” tells many programs (such as Outlook) to make this a clickable link.
- Therefore, S:\IT\Temp becomes \\server\shared\IT\Temp. This is called the complete path to the file.
- Note that if there are any spaces or unusual characters anywhere in the path, the entire path must be enclosed in quotes. This is why I am so anal about my naming conventions because even the people who know this often forget it.
It’s even harder making links to a file accessed through a browser. Don’t even try. If you’re linking to an http: resource rather than a network file, sometimes the browser address bar will replace special characters with their code such as %20 or %2d.
- This only works if you are both on the same or linked networks. You can’t send a link to someone outside the company or your home and have them find a file on your computer or server.
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