What Does Mapping a Drive Do and How Can You Take Advantage of it?

Our world has become saturated with different devices that one home nowadays can have two or more PCs and even more smartphones and other gadgets available but it seems like transferring data is still done using portable storage devices like flashdrives, SD cards and portable hard drives.

We may have all of the luxury that our different devices at home can offer but there are actually some features especially in devices like PCs and laptops that run in Windows which can bring ease to how files are shared to different users connected to one network.

This might not be a secret knowledge in your workplace and the IT admin in your company probably knows about it but personally knowing this yourself would surely bring a great change to how everyone is sharing some stuff at home.

What is Mapping a Drive?

So what exactly does it mean when you map a drive? Does it involve a paper that has an illustration of a certain place on it with the proper labels of places and other interesting locations? Does it involve an app or anything else?

The answer is simply “No!”. Mapping a drive actually involves folders, files and even an entire storage drive in a certain Windows computer. It can also be a cloud storage folder like that of OneDrive (Microsoft’s Online Cloud Service). Mapping a drive means that you’re going to make a specific drive available to other users connected to a common network.

When a certain drive is mapped, it will also appear on the File Explorer section of other computers as if it is part of their hard drive and all of its contents are available to them. These users can also add contents to it and make them available to others who are connected to the same network and have access to the mapped drive.

This may sound a bit confusing for now but everything will become clear as we move along so if you have plenty of devices at home and you want to be able to make one partition of your hard drive appear in all of those devices then Mapping this drive is the solution.

Steps in Mapping a Drive

Now, let’s go directly to the steps in mapping a drive through your network so you can start sharing all those files and other stuff with the people that are connected to it. To start, make sure that your machine is set to allow sharing of folders and other stuff with the other devices on your network.

On Windows 8.1, you can turn on sharing simply by accessing the “PC settings” screen by pressing the “Windows + I” keys and clicking on the “Change PC settings” link that is found at the bottom of the Settings charm as shown below.


The “PC settings” screen will then open and from here, you will simply need to click on the link that is found on the navigation pane at the left portion of the screen which says “Network”.


You will then be able to view all available networks that are broadcasting near you and as well as the network to which your computer is currently connected to. In order to enable sharing, simply click on the network that you are currently connected to and you will be taken to the screen that shows some information about it as shown below.


From here, you will need to pay attention on the switch that is located under “Find devices and content” and this switch should be flipped on. If you see that it is turned off, just click on it to turn it on and now, your computer is ready to map files and folders so they can be viewed in other computers and devices on the network.

Browse to the Folder that You Want to Map

Now, since sharing has already been enabled, you will simply need to browse towards the drive or folder that you want to map through your network. Doing this would require you to open File Explorer if you’re using Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 or Windows Explorer if you are using Windows 7. Once File Explorer/Windows Explorer opens, simply hit the “Computer” tab that is located on top of the Window to open the options that are under it.


Now, from the options that will appear after clicking on the “Computer” tab, you will simply need to click on the one that says “Map network drive” in order to open the “Map Network Drive” wizard which will no guide you through the steps in sharing a certain file with the other devices that are connected to your network as shown on the screenshot below.


From this wizard, you will first need to choose a letter that you’d like to assign to the drive that you’re going to map into your network. To select a letter, just click inside the box and a drop-down list will appear showing you all the letters that are available for you to choose from.


The drive letters that are already assigned to your hard drive, disk drive and partition drive (if any) will not anymore appear in this list so don’t panic if you see that some letters like “C:, D: and E:” are skipped because these letters are the default ones assigned to your hard dive, disk drive and partition drive respectively.

If you don’t select any specific letter then the drive will be assigned as drive “Z:” by default. After selecting the drive letter that you want to assign to the drive that is going to be mapped into your network, you’ll need to specify the folder that you want to be mapped and there are two ways in doing this.

First, if you know the name of the folder and its server (the computer or device where it is saved) then you can directly enter it into the “Folder:” box but if you’re not sure of the folder name, you can simply click on the “Browse…” button located at the right of the Folder input box and a new small Window will open which is labeled “Browse For Folder”. From here, you simply need to expand the computer where the folder that you want to map is saved, look for the folder, select it then hit the “OK” button.


After doing so, you will simply need to check on the “Reconnect at sign-in” option so you can automatically be connected to the mapped drive once you sign in to your computer. You can also choose to check the “Connect using different credentials” in case you want to get access to the drive using different computers that are connected to your network provided that you know the credentials. After checking these options, simply hit the “Finish” button and you might be asked to enter your account password to confirm the process. Just enter your password then hit the “Enter” key and your done!


The Mapped drive will now appear under the “Network locations” section whenever you open File Explorer/Windows Explorer as you can see on the screenshot above and it will also appear on all your the other devices that are connected to your network!