Access to Disks via the Network

by Johannes Helmig [Published on 8 March 1998 / Last Updated on 8 March 1998]

The purpose of a network is to gain access to a resource available on another system, data on a disk or to be able to use a printer.

For accessing data on the disk of another system on the network, actions have to be taken on both systems:

System allowing other systems to access data on its disk = Network-Server:
For security reasons, data is NOT accessible, unless you give the permission to others to access the data. This process is called "Sharing".

You can give permission to access the complete
harddisk or just to a directory.

First, make the decision, what part of your disk
is to be accessible ("is Shared") by
selecting (clicking) it.
then, call up the "Context-Menu" by clicking
the RIGHT-Mouse-button, and select the
option "Sharing"
Give the permission by
selecting the radio-button:
"Shared As"
By default, the ShareName
will be the name of the
selected item (in our
case: the directory), but
you can enter a new name,
under which it will be
known on the network).

You also define the
whether others are just
allowed to read the data
on your disk or whether
they have "Full" access
(allowing them to read,
write, delete files).

As an indication, that a
disk/directory is now
accessible via the network,
is is displayed with the
"Holding hand" icon:

System accessing data on the disk of another system = Network Client:
A Windows95 (and NT4) systems usually gains access to network resource
via the "Network Neighborhood" :

First select a system on the network.
To view the available resources,
"Open it" by double-Clicking on it.

It shows now the list of Shared
resources (disks, directories and/or
To view (and to work with) the
data, open the network-resource
by Double-clicking.

To gain permanently the access, the network-resource is now defined as a "Virtual Disk": It is listed like a hardisk in your system, it can be used like the harddisk in your system, but the disk is simulated, in reality the data is accessed via the network and resides on the disk of another system.
This process of defining the simulated drive (the "Network drive") is called:
"Mapping a Network drive"

First, when selecting a system on the Network,
you CANNOT map a full system (the menu-item
in the Context-menu is grayed out).
You can ONLY map a Disk-resource, so first
display the available resource by "opening "
the network-computer: double-click on it)
select the Network disk-resource and call up the
Context-menu (Right-mouse-click) and select:
"Map Network Drive".
(On a Microsoft Network, you can ONLY map
to the Shared-Resource itself, NOT to any
directory defined inside the resource. That is
only possible on mapping on Novell-Servers).
Select the drive-character, which
should be used for this
If you like the system to re-establish
this mapping automatically on
restarting the system, make sure to
have the Checkmark on
"Reconnect at Login"

The path is listed as : "\\P120_home\cserve".
This method of naming is called UNC: Universial Naming Convention.
The first part, staring with the 2 back-slashes, is the name of the computer on
the network, followed by the name of the resource (=shared disk-area).
The Network drive can now be accessed like the local harddisk,
but it is marked with a special icon:
"Network Drive"

Disk of the system "Sharing" the data:"Network drive" on the system
accessing the data:

The Author — Johannes Helmig

Dr.Johannes Helmig is working as Director, Technical Knowledge Management in the Belgium office of Gerber Technology where he is involved in Customer Service and internal training, with special interest in Networking.

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