Microsoft Windows makes it relatively easy to have multiple PCs on the same network. It’s great to work together on a single project using different computers, or just to share data. However, apart from the standard network file sharing feature, Windows also comes with the ability to map a network shared folder as a logical Windows Drive.
Mapping the drive makes the shared folder appear just as if it was a physical drive, and actions performed are processed just like they are processed on a physical drive (with few exceptions), which is handy for apps that expect a physical drive.
In this tutorial, we are going to show you how you can map a drive and how it is better than simply sharing data over the network.
Why Map a Network Drive?
When a shared folder is mapped as a drive, a drive letter (like D:) is assigned to it and it becomes a logical drive, which has almost all (but not all) the functionalities of a logical drive backed by a physical disk/SSD.
When a folder is shared over network, it is treated like an ordinary folder by the system and the applications, and you are required to enter the Uniform Naming Convention (UNC) name or browse the folder each time you need to access it.
The most common (but not the most important) reason to map a drive is to access it easily. You can easily access the shared folder/drive right from Windows explorer, otherwise, you would have to find the shared folder by browsing or using UNC name each time.
However, there are some other compulsory reasons as well. Some applications may directly work with a physical drive, so you may map the folder as a drive in your PC to make them work. Furthermore, some applications also don’t work well with UNC names or don’t work at all, so you need to map the folder as a drive.
Share the Folder/Drive
Before mapping a folder, we need to actually have a shared folder which we can map. In our example, we will share a folder first, then map it. Right-click on the folder/drive which you would like share, and from the context menu click on “Properties”.
From the next window, click on “Sharing” tab and in there click on “Advanced Sharing”.
Here, check the option “Share this folder” and this specific folder will be shared. You can also change the permissions to control who can edit the folder. Just click on “Permissions” in the same window and on the next window, specify what others can access. When you are done, just click “OK” on each window and all these settings will be applied.
Map a Drive
When you are done sharing the folder, go to “My Computer” in the PC in which you would like to map the drive. Here in the above tabs, you will see the option of “Map network drive”, click on it.
A new window will open up, click on the drop down menu next to the option “Drive”. Select a letter from the list that you would like to apply to the new drive.
Below you will see an empty field where you can enter the destination of the folder which you would like to map. If you know the destination, which includes Computer name\Shared Folder, just enter in the field. If you don’t know it, then click on “Browse” next to it.
Here, you will see all the folders/drivers that are shared, just select the one you want to map from here and it will be pasted in the empty field.
You will see two options below, “Reconnect at logon” and “Connect using different credentials”.
Reconnect at logon
This option is enabled by default, whenever you will log on to your PC the mapped drive will be automatically reconnected to use (if the PC that is sharing it is online). If you would like to reconnect manually every time, then uncheck this option.
Connect using different credentials
Normally, you will connect to the mapped drive using your PC’s credentials. But if you would like to assign specific credentials for security purposes, just enable this option and you will be asked a new password while mapping the drive.
When all the settings are in place, just click on “Finish” and the drive will be mapped, and all its content will be opened in a separate window.
You will see the new drive located under the heading “Network Location” in Windows Explorer.
When you are done using the Drive and don’t want to reconnect to it, you should disconnect it for safety purposes. Just right click on the mapped drive and from the context menu click on “Disconnect”. The drive will be immediately disconnected and removed from “Network Location”.
If you have any questions or would like to add any further information, let us know in the comments below.