The most common is to save our data on the hard drives of our computer. And when it comes to backups, do it on external drives or USB sticks. Even the cloud is gaining prominence thanks to platforms such as OneDrive and Google Drive, among others. However, if we want our own storage system that we can access from any place and device, and also allow others to access it, then we must configure our own network drive.
A network drive is a storage space (hard disk, USB memory, etc.) that is connected to the Internet. In this way, instead of accessing the data through the unit directly connected to our computer, we do so through the network.
We can create our network drives in several different ways. For example, if our router has a secure USB port we can use it to connect a storage unit to it. We can also do it through a NAS server, and we even have the possibility of using any PC as a network drive sharing data with other users. The simplest and most recommended methods are the first two.
How to connect to a network drive
There are several ways to connect from Windows 10 to a network drive.
Through your IP / name
If we know its IP address (for example, 192.168.1.1), we can access this storage unit directly by typing that IP into the address bar of the Windows file explorer. To do this, we have to introduce two initial backslashes at the beginning of this IP address to indicate to the browser that it is a network unit.
You may ask us to log in with a username and password to access the data. The username and password are the same that we can use to enter the configuration of the router itself.
In addition to using the IP, we can also do it through the device’s network name. For example, if our router is called “ROUTER-01” We can access it by writing that name in the address bar, with its two back bars.
Mount a network drive from file explorer
The problem with the previous method is that we have to re-enter the data every time we go to access the files. And if we go in very often it can be annoying. In that case, what we have to do is mount the network drive on our computer. This will allow us to always have it at hand (from the file explorer) and some applications incompatible with network directories will be able to use them.
We can do this in two ways. The first one is through the button that appears in the upper hidden bar of the file explorer. And the second, from the explorer, by right-clicking on “This computer” and choosing the corresponding option.
We will see a simple wizard that will guide us through the connection process.
We can choose the letter we want to give to the unit, and specify the path, on the network, of said unit. If we use the ” Explore ” button, we can let Windows automatically search for it and select it to connect more easily to it.
We can also tell Windows if we want it to connect to that drive automatically when logging in, and if we want to use a different username and password than the operating system.
Now we are connected. The unit will appear in the Windows File Explorer, within «This computer», in the category of «Network locations». And we can enter it and work with it as if it were a hard drive more connected to the PC. We will identify it by the icon it has, different from that of the hard drives and other units connected to the PC.
From CMD or PorwerShell
Windows also allows us to connect to network drives through its two consoles: CMD and PowerShell. To do this, the only thing we are going to have to do is enter the following commands, in the corresponding console, replacing the data indicated by the corresponding data:
In the case of CMD:
net use drive_letter:ComputerShare /user UserName Password /persistent:yes
- drive_letter: ComputerShare -> Letter that we want to give to the drive and the network directory where it is located.
- UserName -> User.
- Password -> Password.
If we prefer PowerShell:
New-PSDrive -Name drive_letter -PSProvider FileSystem -Root "ComputerNameShareName" -Credential "UserName" -Persist
- ComputerNameShareName -> Network directory.
- UserName -> User
The parameters “persistent: yes” and “Persist” allow us to make the volume we mount persistent. In this way, the unit will always be mounted by default.
Disconnect network drive
The problem with network drives is that once they are connected, they cannot be modified. Therefore, it may happen that due to an IP change, or simply because we have tired of it or it is no longer available, we need to disconnect the network drive from our PC.
We can do this in two different ways. The first, from the explorer’s task bar. If we display the button that we have used to connect we will be able to see the option to disconnect a unit. And if we choose it, we can see a list with all the network drives that we have connected to the PC.
And we will also be able to click on the unit, with the right button, and choose the option to disconnect.
In the end, the result is the same. That is, the unit will disconnect from our PC and disappear from the file explorer. Also, it will automatically stop connecting when you log in.
From CMD or PowerShell
Of course, we can also disconnect any drive using commands in Windows. To do this, the first thing we will execute will be the following command to see all the network drives that are connected to our PC:
To erase the drive that we want from our Windows, we simply have to execute the following command in a CMD window.
net use Z: /Delete
In our case, the unit we want to disconnect is Z :, but we will have to change it to fit our unit. Once the command is executed, the unit will have been completely disconnected from our computer.