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Network drive

Network drive

(also network share, network-attached storage drive)

Network drive definition

A network drive is a storage directory that can be accessed by multiple users over a network. A network drive may be “mapped” by creating a shortcut (or virtual drive letter) on your device that leads to the shared location. Once done, these drives are called “mapped drives.”

See also: hybrid hard drive, solid state drive

Network drive uses

Network drives let multiple users access stored data, software, and media files at the same time. This makes it easy for users to share resources and collaborate on documents — for example, an employee could drop a completed report in a shared folder so that it becomes immediately available to their team leader.

Many network drives also offer built-in backup solutions to help safeguard critical data. To protect against disk failures, network drives often support RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) configurations.

Types of network drives

  • Dedicated network-attached storage (NAS) devices are used solely for file storage and sharing.
  • Network shares on servers are special directories created at the user’s discretion. For example, Windows servers can create shared folders that act as network drives, while servers running Linux or Unix-based operating systems can share directories using the Network File System (NFS) protocol.
  • Cloud based network drives host the shared directory in the cloud, letting users access local resources from anywhere with an internet connection.
  • Virtual network drives are created within a network but may not necessarily correspond to a specific physical device. They are common in virtualized environments.

Further reading

Ultimate digital security