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How to use a Windows share mapped using net use \\host\share?

I've accidentally forgotten to include the device name, e.g. Z:, in the above command, resulting in the share being mapped without a corresponding network drive showing up in Windows Explorer. The mapped share is listed using net use.

Now, what can a mapped share, without a corresponding network drive, be used to? Is it possible to link the share to a network drive afterwards (how)?

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resulting in the share being mapped without a corresponding network drive showing up

Technically, if a drive letter wasn't specified, then the share isn't mapped; it's only connected to.

Now, what can a mapped share, without a corresponding network drive, be used to?

Everything, because most programs accept UNC paths directly – mapping to a drive letter is optional. For example, you can open the path \\host\share in Explorer or Notepad or Word or any other program; you can even dir it from the Command Prompt. This has been possible ever since Windows 95 – for more than 20 years now.

Windows will automatically connect to shares whenever an UNC path is used, so technically you don't even need net use at all. However the command remains useful even without specifying drive letters, because it lets you specify a custom username and password.

That said, there are still valid reasons to use drive letter mappings: they let you quickly see used/free space in "This PC" ("My Computer"), they're shorter to type, and you can actually cd into them via Command Prompt.

Is it possible to link the share to a network drive afterwards (how)?

If you still want to map the share to a drive, simply repeat the command with a drive letter:

net use z: \\host\share
  • Thank you - so using net use \\host\share is only useful to establish a connection with a custom username and password? Given that such connection has been established, then Windows will automatically use it when needed from e.g. Explorer? – Shuzheng Oct 28 '18 at 12:38
  • Yes, it will be used automatically. – user1686 Oct 28 '18 at 13:17
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Is it possible to link the share to a network drive afterwards?

Yes, using these commands:

net use \\host\share /delete
net use \\host\share z:

This deletes the mapping and then recreates it using the drive letter you specify.

  • Thank you - but I know this. I want to know, what the mapped share can be used to, not just deleted and remapped with a corresponding device name :) – Shuzheng Oct 28 '18 at 12:33
  • @Shuzheng I'd have to do some research to answer the other part of your question. If you didn't mean to ask the part I answered, please edit your question to clarify. – I say Reinstate Monica Oct 28 '18 at 12:42

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