For most people connecting to Windows shares on a PC or Server is usually accomplished using My Network Places and browsing the Network or with Windows Explorer and selecting Map Network Drive. Depending on the Network you are on, browsing a Network can take forever.
If you are looking for a quicker way to browse and connect to Network resources such as shared folders and printers, one easy method is to use UNC.
UNC, known as Universal Naming Convention or sometimes as Uniform Naming Convention, is a naming convention for identifying Network resources (such as folders, printers, etc..).
Ok, let's see an example. First UNC names consist of three parts, a server name, a share name, and an optional file path that are combined using backslashes as follows:
Using UNC is beneficial when you know the PC or Server of the shared resource you want to connect. To quickly connect to a folder share, you can use Windows Start \ Run Window:
After typing the UNC: \\jr\videos in the Run Window, and clicking OK, a Window will open listing the videos shared folder on the Computer name jr
TIP: The first time you connect to a shared resource on another Computer, Windows will prompt you to authenticate (logon). Make your you have an account on the Computer you are connecting.
One nice feature of using UNC, is that you do not need to know the share names on the Computer you want to connect. By just typing \\jr\ at the Run Line, will display all the resources shared on the Computer:
If you just type the first letter of the share name, it will list all shares that start with that letter. Another trick is to append a backslash at the end of a share name and it will list the contents of the shared folder.
Notice when there are more files than what can be displayed, a scroll bar will appear allowing you to scroll through the list of files. If a sub-folder exist, selecting it will show the contents of that folder. As with selecting a shared folder and having a seperate Window open, selecting a file, will open on your Computer (as long as a Program exist that can open the file).
If you need to map a drive when using UNC from the Run window, use the net use command to map the drive. The syntax for net use is:
net use * \\computername\sharename
where * is the drive leter you want to use:
net use F \\192.168.1.103\videos
When mapping a drive letter from Start \ Run window, you will need to open Windows Explorer to view the mapping.
If you are using Windows Vista and wondering where the Run window dissappeared to, you can find it by:
- Right-click on the Start menu and choose Properties;
- Select the Start Menu tab and click on the Customize… button;
- Check the "Run command" option.
Using UNC is not limited to just Windows operating systems. You can also use it to connect to Novell and Unix/Linux Computers (running SAMBA).