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Old 29. Aug 2016, 01:44 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Question microsoft windows map network drive over public internet

So a very common way to share files on a LAN in a microsoft windows environment is "map network drive" where the remote PC\drive gets its own drive letter on the local PC.

One huge advantage of that technique is that all of windows works as if the remote drive was local. Including, windows explorer/ file explorer, search (altho can be slow), file open, file save, copy, move, delete, upload to web page in browser, download from browser, etc, etc.

It's really quite transparent.

So what if the two computers that want to share files this way are not on the same LAN, but separated by the public internet? Two friends? Home and work?

This seems so useful, it's hard for me to imagine there's not an off-the-shelf way to do this by now. Or maybe there is--that's why I'm asking.

Windows Server has an IIS snap-in for WebDAV which I think gets you here. But most people dont have Windows Server, just Windows 7 or 10.

By far the most common answer to this need today is "cloud". But, you either have to pay for it (eg, maybe amazon S3) or they are free if you agree to let them scan your files and sell the content to advertisers (and perhaps others). Granted, nearly everyone is happy to make this tradeoff, but I personally am not.

For example, this forum entry:

Another way is to create an FTP or SFTP (the S stands for Secure server. There are programs that will do that, I think, on Windows 7, but they lack the transparency of the mapped network drive. Or is there an ftp client for Windows 7 that does make it like a network drive.

I dont mind having to open ports on my router for this.

Can Windows 7 serve files via Samba?

Another solution is VPN. I have heard (but not investigated) you can run a VPN server from windows 7. Then others can connect via the public internet to your local LAN then map network drives once connected (and authenticated). That seems like overkill--I just want the 1 drive (or 2 or 3) not the whole LAN. But maybe this is the only way.
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Old 29. Aug 2016, 01:51 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Searching around, Opera Unite seems compelling for free, private file sharing, but not for map network drive
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Old 29. Aug 2016, 10:32 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I don't see any reason for the mapping of a network drive not to work. The only possible difficulty is getting the names right on both ends.
Windows really could not care how long the piece of string is provided it is tied down at both ends with absolute names.
I would suggest though that you initiate any large transactions from the remote end rather than the local end even if this means setting up a remote session. This is because of the amount of control commands and confirmations required that would be required with remote control of the transfer.
(sending files is far less command hungry than requesting files)
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Old 03. Sep 2016, 06:03 PM   #4 (permalink)
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we map with \\computername\c

In that case "computername" is a netbios name. There are no netbios name mappings for any computers not on the local LAN.

I have done before \\ip_address\c on a LAN.

I supposed the ip_address could be any IP address on the public WAN. In that case, however, for 2 computers that are behind NAT routers (the most common case), I'm not sure how the WAN ip_address would get translated to the remote LAN ip. The router usually keeps track of this for out-then-in transactions, but in this case, it's in-first. You'd have to port forward? What port?

I found this:

It says it's possible, but horribly insecure.
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