Windows 7 Security and Mapped or Network Drives

I’ve been running Windows 7 for a couple of months now, and while I am quite happy with this version of Windows (in contrast to Vista, which I found to be agony). However, I have had one repeated annoyance – namely not having applications recognize my mapped network drives. For most folks that might not be an issue, but I have “My Documents” mapped to one of my network drives as well, and many applications just assume they should use My Documents as a repository for their files. But I have solved the problem, finally.

The issue is that the default “protect the user from his own stupidity” settings for Windows 7 result in default network drive mappings being done in a non-Administrator mode. What that means is that any application being run as an administrator, such as pretty much any installation program, will not see those drive mappings and then spit back a cryptic error when it tries to access the My Documents area mapped to the network drive (which the application can’t see).

The solution is pretty simple – you need to run CMD.EXE as an administrator and manually map the network volumes. For example, if you map your N: to the network volume \\server\shared, you would do the following to map it in administrative mode:

1) Click the Windows “Start” button.

2) In the “Search” box, type “CMD”

3) Either hit Ctrl+Shift+Enter or right click on the CMD option and select the “Run as Administrator” option.

4) After agreeing to run CMD as an Administrator and let it make changes to your system, type the following line at the command prompt (modifying the drive letter and server volume appropriate to your needs):

net use n: \\server\shared

You should get a confirmation that this worked. Now, for the rest of your current OS use cycle (until you reboot), programs run in Administrator mode will see your mapped network drive too.

If you want that to be default behavior, put the list of “net use” commands in a DOS .BAT file, and then create a desktop shortcut pointing to the .BAT file. Then do the following:

1) Right-click on the icon for the .BAT file on your desktop.

2) Click “Properties”

3) Select the “Shortcut” tab

4) Click on the “Advanced” button on the lower part of the dialog box.

5) Put an “x” in the box which says “Run as Administrator”.

6) Click “OK”

Unfortunately, putting this .BAT file in your Start Up folder will not execute the commands, so you will manually need to run the file at start-up every time. If anyone has a better solution, please advise.

However, assuming you run this .BAT after booting Windows 7, you should not have any more problems with Administrator-level programs not recognizing your network drive mappings. Of course, if Microsoft had set network drive mappings to be Administrator-level by default, this workaround would not be necessary.