Information technology is a wonderful thing. With the right network connections in place, you can spread your information out over many locations for physical safety and security; yet logically use it as though it were residing locally on your computer. That’s the magic of the network drive. To make the most of it, it’s useful to know a little about how your computer ‘thinks’ about hard disks, different memory devices and data resources available to it. That can also help you to organize your file storage and backups.
Know Your Alphabet
Each network drive has a name: some combination of letters and numbers. For your computer to recognize that a drive exists and can be accessed, the drive and its name are mapped into your computer’s memory. Local drive mapping happens automatically when you start your PC. With an MS Windows PC and File Explorer for example, you can see references to ‘C:\’ (your local hard disk), ‘D:\’ (for example, your read/write DVD drive), and more. If you attach a USB hard drive or memory stick, your PC might then automatically use ‘E:\’ to manage access it. Each additional drive is assigned the next free letter in the alphabet. A network drive is recognized in the same way, although your PC needs different information because the network drive is not attached locally like the others.
Cloud File Storage Providers
Cloud providers have also seen the advantage of making their resources appear like a network drive to your computer. It’s no coincidence that services have been baptized ‘GoogleDrive’, ‘SkyDrive’ and the like. The idea is to emphasize the convenience of using this remote storage as though it was sitting inside your PC. This opens up possibilities to drag and drop files to and from online drives, just like you might already be moving them around in local file directories.
When you can perform File Explorer style operations on your local and network drives alike, you can also use backup software applications like FreeFileSync, SyncBack and Microsoft SyncToy. Of course, if you’re using storage from a cloud provider that also offers automatic backup, you might choose to use that. But if your online file storage is spread out over several providers (whether for reasons of cost-effectiveness, security or whatever), a drag and drop backup app that can then take care of it all automatically can be a big advantage.
Network Drive Availability
If the network drive isn’t under your direct control (for example, it’s not on a remote server that you own), access to that resource will depend on some other person or organization. For many cloud resources for online data storage and file backup, this is not an issue: you just need to make sure your own Internet connection is operational. Cloud providers know they need to maintain a good reputation for availability and reliability, and offer 24 hour access. For other remote storage resources like peer to peer networking, the multiplicity of remote devices used for storage should also guarantee reasonable access. However, not all P2P solutions provide the same drag and drop facility for managing files. Check the functionality and availability offered for different types of network drive to see which ones meet all your requirements.