Network drive

Updated: 03/12/2022 by Computer Hope
Network storage drive

A network drive or mapped drive is a drive, NAS (network access server), or share on another computer or server on the same network, for instance, a LAN (local area network). For example, when using a corporate network, you can access company or customer information on a network drive. The network drive is accessed similar to a local disk drive, but the data is transferred from a remote computer to your computer over a network connection.


With the popularity of cloud computing and more people working remotely, many people now also use cloud storage solutions like Dropbox.

Local drive, network drive, and mapped drive

Although a local drive, network drive, and mapped drive are all considered drives, they each have unique differences.

A local drive is a drive (internal or external) that is connected to your computer. Although these drives could be shared, by default, they're only accessible to the user of the computer. Below is a good example of a local drive path of the Windows directory on the C: drive (primary hard drive).


A network drive is any drive only accessible over a network. Unless mapped (explained below), the network drive is only accessible by entering the network path. On a Windows computer, a network path may resemble the example below. In the example, "hope" is the server name and "help" is a shared folder on that server.


Finally, a mapped drive is a networked drive that is assigned a drive letter. For example, you may map a network drive to the H: drive in Windows. After the drive is mapped, when looking at available drives you'll see an H: drive that looks like all other drives on your computer. Accessing the H: drive would open the network path.

What are the advantages of a network drive?

Below is a list of the reasons why it is better to use a network drive instead of a local drive.

  • A network drive and its files can be shared with many people.
  • Permissions can specify the people you want to be able to view or edit the files.
  • Network drives are a central storage location that makes them easier to backup and mirror.
  • NAS and SAN (storage area network) solutions can make adding storage easier.

What are the disadvantages of a network drive?

While there are more advantages to network drives than disadvantages, there are still a few that are listed below.

  • Network drives require a network. If your network goes down, all files on the network drive are inaccessible.
  • Being a central location with multiple users increases the possibility of accidental deletion, modification, hacking, or infection.
  • Anyone with access to the drive could copy or move all its data to an alternate location.

Drive, Drobo, Local drive, Mount, NAS, Network, Network terms, SAN