A mapped drive is a shortcut to a specific drive on another device that allows you to access resources shared on your local network or files on an FTP server or website.
It looks just like a shortcut on your local hard drive with its own letter, even opens as if it were on the drive, but the files are physically stored on another computer or device.
Mapping is different from mounting a disk in that it allows you to open remote files as if they were saved on your own computer, while mounting allows you to open a file as if it were a folder.
The main limitation of using a mapped network drive is that it depends on a working network, so if it isn’t working or the connection isn’t working properly, you won’t be able to access files on the mapped drive.
How to map a network drive on Windows 10
We will show you two ways to map a network drive in Windows 10: using File Explorer and Command Prompt.
Using File Explorer to Map a Windows 10 Network Drive
- Map a network drive to your router.
- Click Start on the taskbar and select Settings> Network & Internet.
- Go to the “Change advanced sharing settings” section.
- Click Turn On Network Discovery.
- Click Save Changes. If the Save Changes button is grayed out, it means network discovery is already enabled, so you can skip this step.
- Then open File Explorer by pressing the Windows logo key + E.
- Click This PC and go to the Computer tab. You can also find this computer using Cortana.
- In the main window, check the letters for each drive you see, and write them down to avoid creating duplicates. Avoid using the letters C, D, and F, as they are usually assigned to local storage and removable media such as USB sticks and drives. It also ensures that you don’t run into problems in the future.
- Click the Map Network Drive button (helps to connect to a new remote share on the network).
- Select a drive letter from the list of drives and find the network drive. To navigate to the drive itself, click Browse from the pop-up menu.
Note. If this is your first network drive, you will see it in the list of drives. If you have multiple network drives, you will see several of them by clicking the Browse button.
- In the Folder field, enter the path to a folder or computer, or click Browse to find it.
- Select “Reconnect on Login” to reconnect each time you log on to your computer. This will ensure that the connected drive is available to you every time, but if you don’t want to, uncheck the box.
- Find a shared folder on disk or create a new one where you can drag and drop files to access from anywhere. To create a folder, right-click “New Folder” and give it a name you can remember when you need to find it on another device.
- If you need to access the shared network folder using credentials for a different account, select the Connect using different credentials check box.
- You will be prompted to enter your login information for the shared network, that is, the username and password of the computer you want to connect to. Use a password that you can remember in case other colleagues or family members need to use it.
Note. If your NAS has a username and password, you may need to enter them to access the drive.
- Click Finish. You will see a new window for the drive letter that you assigned earlier. Shared folders from which you can browse and open files on the network drive will also be displayed.
Note. If you are unable to map a network folder or drive, check if the computer you are trying to connect to is turned off or check if you have the required permissions. You can also contact your network administrator.
You will see the network drive listed in the sidebar of Explorer under “This PC”. From here, you can open it and drag and drop files like documents, media and others into it. You can also copy / cut and paste like other files and folders.
When you’re done with a connected drive and you don’t need it anymore, just right-click it and choose Disconnect.
Use Command Prompt to map Windows 10 network drive
An advanced way to work with a mapped drive on Windows is by using the net use command on Windows or, if you prefer, PowerShell.
- Click Start and type CMD in the search bar.
- Click Open on the command line.
- In the Command Prompt window, type net use DRIVE: PATH and press Enter. (DRIVE is the drive letter you will be using, and PATH is the UNC path to share. It would look something like net use g: \ tower entertainment
- You can add your username and password to the command if the share you are connecting to is protected by a password or other authentication and you do not want to keep entering credentials every time you open a network drive.
For example, if our username is OTT and our password is givethatbeatback, the command would look something like this: net use g: \ tower entertainment / user: OTT givethatbeatback
- After restarting the computer, the mapped drive may disappear as they are not permanent by default. In this case, you can add the / persistent switch to make sure they stay.
To create a persistent connection, enter / persistent: Yes so that future connections made with this command are persistent until you disable it with the / persistent: No. switch.
- It will look something like this: net use g: \ tower entertainment / user: OTT givethatbeatback / persistent: Yes
- To delete a mapped network drive at the command line, specify a drive letter and add / remove a switch as follows: net use DRIVE: / delete. For example, we used the drive letter g, so you must type net use g: / delete
How to map a network drive on Windows 7, 8 and XP
Microsoft ended support for Windows 7 in January 2020, but you can upgrade to Windows 10 to receive regular security updates and technical support.
- Mapping a network drive in these older versions of Windows is easier. From the Start menu or desktop, click Computer, and then select Map Network Drive.
- Select the drive letter for the network drive you want to map. In the Folder field, enter the UNC path and click Finish. Windows XP has several different methods for mapping a network drive, but the steps above use Windows Explorer to map a drive.
Did you manage to map a network drive following the steps in this guide? Let us know in the comments below.