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Redirecting My Documents to a Mapped Network Drive

Working complete PC
Blank Diskette
Student Diskette, "New Boot A Ver 2.0+"
Student CD-ROM, "Room 6359"
The student will become familiar with:
The concept of Networking,
Configuring the File and Print Sharing Service,
Learn the nature and function of the Network Redirector.
This module is an integral component of the Windows 98 networking modules in which the student will understand the nature and function of the Windows 98 Network Control Panel applet and the related concepts including network components, protocols, services and clients and how to install and remove these Windows networking components, as well as be able to configure them in order to establish a Peer-to-Peer network. The student will gain experience in the installation of a Network Interface Card and connecting the cabling between the two systems to establish physical connectivity of networked PC's.
  1. Mapping a network drive letter, means that a resource that is available for sharing on another networked system will be assigned a local drive letter. For example, PC000 has shared a folder named ROSHARE as read-only. Network aware operating system functions and programs can refer to this shared resource by its UNC name: \\PC000\ROSHARE and gain access to the files in the folder on the other system. Functions and programs that are not network aware or compatible, will not be able to access the files. To make all files in the shared folder accessible to the all OS functions and programs of the local system assign the distant folder a local drive letter.

    The detailed operation below concerns mapping a network drive to a user's home directory on a Netware 3.12 server, but the same principles apply in mapping a network drive in a NetBEUI Peer-to-Peer network except of course that the UNC names will be particular to the names of the machines and their shares and the "Reconnect at Logon" should be left unchecked because a Peer machine will not be as reliable as a server. In the event that the peer is not available, this choice will result in very long delays while the service attempts and retries the attempts to contact the remote host during the startup phase.

    Obviously in order to perform this exercise then the system must be networked to at least one other system and the other system must have a shared folder on which the user has write and modify rights to the files in the folder. The folder must already have a "persistent" drive letter mapped to it as well. See Mapping a Drive Letter in Windows 98, Setting Up a NetBEUI Peer-to-Peer Network, Renaming a Windows 98 PC, Sharing a Folder in Windows 98, Controlling Master Browser Elections in Windows, for related topics.

  2. Procedures
  3. A common misconception exists amongst even experienced users that the My Documents object on the desktop is the same exact entity as the folder C:\My Documents. This is not true at all. The icon on the desktop is a Windows system object that has been associated with the actual directory named C:\My Documents and the association can be changed to any valid path, even one that lies on a mapped network drive which actually resides on a distant computer as a shared resource available to the local machine through the network. Once the system has been completely setup; open the mapped network drive. In this example the E: drive has been assigned to the users home directory on the Netware 3.12 server but it can be assigned any letter and be assigned to any folder on any host as long as the local system and user have full write and modify rights to the files in the folder (see the Preparation section above for details) then create a new folder within the root of the E: drive named "MYDOCS" (no quotes!).

  4. Now right click on the "My Documents" icon on the desktop and select Properties. In the window that appears type in the path "E:\MYDOCS" (no quotes!) into the target path text box and click OK:

    Just to be on the safe side (you know how Windows can be) close all open windows and restart the system. Upon reaching the logon window, logon as you did before. Now open Notepad.exe and create and save a file. Remember that almost all applications default to saving the files that the user creates in the My Documents folder. It is actually an "object" and it has been told to drop the files in E:\MYDOCS which is caught by the network redirector (Application layer SAP) and sent on to the server at the Netware path "FS1\SYS:USERS\STAx\MYDOCS" from now on. You can check this by browsing to your home directory through the Network Neighborhood icon and then into MYDOCS. The file just saved should be here now. The folder C:\My Documents still exists in the C: drive but it is no longer associated with the "My Documents" system object.

  5. Furthermore, all files that were in C:\My Documents prior to the change will not magically move themselves to the new location in Windows 98 so you will have to the files to the new location yourself. Incidentally performing this operation on a Windows 2000 machine will offer to move the current contents of the My Documents folder to the new location. On an older server like the Netware 3.12 this should not be done because it may not support long file names on the server folders. LFN's can be enabled on the server's folders and this should be verified prior to performing an operation that the operating system itself will automate, this is exactly where a bug can manifest itself and damage the files. Remember that Windows will offer to move the contents of the My Documents folder not copy which would be safe if the server were to refuse the long file names and throw errors since the originals would still exist, but in a move the originals may have already been deleted by the time the server returns any error messages about the file names. Manually copying is simply a safer way to move My Documents even to a Windows server for this very reason.

  6. At this point My Documents will now always land on the server in the user's home directory in the MYDOCS subdirectory. No matter what happens to the user's system all work saved to the default location of most programs (My Documents) will be safe on the server. The user's work is on a superior machine that probably has a UPS, RAID's and is constantly backed up. See Mapping a Network Drive, Setting up an IPX/SPX Netware Client in Windows 98, Setting up File and Print Sharing in Windows 98, Setting up a NetBEUI Peer-to-Peer Network in Windows 98, and Controlling Master Browser Elections in Windows for related topics.

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