Ease of Access – Mapping A Network Drive

Network hard drives are handy, but not always easy to get to.

Here's how to make it easier through mapping.

The process of mapping is nothing more than providing a shortcut means of getting to a drive which would otherwise require multiple mouse clicks and typing in a web address. And if you access a drive frequently, the alternative becomes quite burdensome.

In order to access or map a drive, you need to know the network path. This is commonly given in the format \\{drive name}\{share}, where {drive name} is the name assigned to the drive by the network admin, and {share} is the name of a shared network folder.

The naming of drives and creation and management of shares is beyond the scope of this discussion, but these names are a way of making network locations more recognizable.

Map the Drive

  1. Open a file explorer. Don't confuse this with Internet Explorer, which is a web browser, similar to Chrome. You might think of a file explorer as a browser for the local and network drives you can access.
  2. Navigate to This PC, as shown below. You'll know you're in the right place when you see the Map network drive button on the toolbar. You also need to assure you're on the Computer tab at the top.
  1. Click the mapping button. You'll see this dialog appear.
  1. Choose a drive letter to use for the mapping by clicking on the Drive: drop-down.
  2. Type in the network address (\\wdmirror\Joseph in this example).
  3. If you want the drive mapping to survive logging out and back in again, check the Reconnect at sign-in checkbox.
  4. If the network share you're going to access requires login credentials (a username and password) that's different from your Windows login, check the Connect using different credentials checkbox.
  5. Click the Finish button.

If the network share mapping doesn't need additional/other credentials and is available, a file explorer will open using the new mapping.

If you specified you wanted to connect with different credentials, or your current PC login credentials don't provide access, another dialog will appear, asking you to enter the share credentials:

  1. Enter your login user name and password to access the drive.
  2. If you want the mapping to survive logging out and back in again, check the Remember my credentials checkbox.
  3. Click OK and the system will attempt to access the drive/share you've specified with the credentials you've entered.

If all goes according to plan, a file explorer will open using the new mapping.

If Windows can't find the drive (maybe you misspelled it) or you entered incorrect credentials, you'll be returned to the credentials dialog to let you know the access attempt failed.

Enter erroneous information in this dialog more than once, and you'll be presented with an error dialog, letting you know Windows was unsuccessful logging into the drive share:

Check your information carefully after the first try to avoid this issue.

Note: If you have already logged into the network drive (perhaps on a different share) using different credentials, you'll be denied the opportunity to use the new credentials for that drive until you disconnect from the other share altogether.

Clear Your Prior Network Share Login

Option 1: Log out and back in.

Option 2: Clear the specific session in question.

Use this option if you don't want to close all your applications and start over again in order to log out and back in.

  1. Close all open windows where you are accessing that share, including all programs and file explorers which are attached to the open drive.
  2. Use a command line window to close the connection
    1. Use the <<windows>>-<<R>> key combination, then type cmd and <<ENTER>>.
    2. At the command prompt, type the command net use and <<ENTER>> to see your drive mappings that already exist.
    3. Find the mapping(s) you already have in play that conflict with the drive you want to map. You'll need to disconnect each of them. If you don't see any entries for the drive in use, you may just need to log out and back in.
    4. Type the command to disconnect the drive:

      net use \\{drive}\{share} /delete and press <<ENTER>>.

Once you've successfully cleared your prior sessions with the network drive, attempt to map the drive again. If you still can't map the drive, you will likely need to go with Option 1.