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I have a customer who has gone a bit insane with shares and driver letters - to the point where they're now out of letters in the alphabet to assign (that don't conflict with existing physical drives, etc).

What are the options here? I've read a bit about using mounted drives, but that will seriously change how this company accesses their data. Are there any other options in a situation like this?

note: thanks for the suggestions everyone, lots of great ideas and now a lot of work on my part to fix this. i truly appreciate all the feedback

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They're only "a bit" insane? Hmm... I might argue differently. >smile< – Evan Anderson Sep 28 '09 at 15:03
up vote 5 down vote accepted

As has been mentioned by several different people the best way to do this would be to sit down and sort out the shares to the point you only have a handful of drives. There is an added impetus to doing this in that new computers come with 4-in-1, 5-in-1, etc. card readers which whilst useful swallow up drive letters. In the end we decided that all drive letters had to be past L:

  • A, B: FDD
  • C, D: HDD/ODD
  • E - K: - Possible card reader, with 7 drives exposed (We have a six in several workstations)
  • L: USB Keys

As a soloution we moved everythign to one of 4 drives:

  • Home
  • Share (Shared folders with Access Based Enumeration enabled)
  • Programs (Read only, network software packages)
  • Specalist Software (Read/write but only the directories required for one peice of software that can't handle UNCs)

Access Based Enumeration was a huge boon for us as it allowed us to have a large number of folders on one drive but the end user only saw those they had permission to see.

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Access Based Enumeration - didn't know it had a name... – RainyRat Sep 28 '09 at 13:59
I think this solution is the way to go and will have to suck it up and start this process with them. I agree that long term it's better to fix now, although I wish it hadn't gotten this out of control. live and learn... – prolix21 Sep 29 '09 at 20:25

You could also look into DFS, which lets you construct a "virtual" folder structure from shares all over, and present them together so you'll only need one mapped drive letter. DFS is a component in Windows 2000 Server and newer, and you'll need a dfs-aware client, which WIndows 2000 and newer has builtin. Win NT4 and Win98 has (or at least had) a downloadeable DFS component that you can install to make them DFS-aware.

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The option I'd use is sitting down to remap the shares, even though it's a pain at first it should make things a lot easier down the road. If it's a storage issue I'd recommend getting a huge NAS or SAN on which to store things and that way it should also make creating backups a little easier.

Otherwise you're going to have nagging problems with Joe getting a new systems and this add-on drive doesn't show up, or someone is having trouble with this network mapping but not this one, etc.

Or you have to hack together mounted and joined drives in which case you're adding complication to your network configuration and administrative headaches. A matter of simple filesharing shouldn't be a complex issue on your network...I'd say you're doing yourself a favor by moving to a consolidated structure for storage.

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Ouch. There are a number of ways that this could be improved from a number-of-mapped-drives point of view, with things like junction points, DFS or exotically-mounted drives, but all you'd be doing is prolonging the inevitable point where you're going to have to sit down and sort it all out, as Bart says.

If it's any help, we rationalised our drive mapping situation a while ago, as it was moving in the direction of...well, the place where your client is now. We managed to get it down to 4 mapped drives:

  • Home (visible only to user, acts as their home dir)
  • Shared (readable/writable by all)
  • Data (one drive, many folders, each visible only to their owning department)
  • Library (one drive, many folders, each visible to all but only writable by their owning deaprtment).
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