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Windows file storage and network drives

Where are my files stored?

Most of your files should be kept on drive N:. This is a network drive i.e. files on this drive are stored on the home directory server, not on the hard disk of your Windows PC, and are backed up regularly. If you use Linux as well as Windows you will recognise drive N: as your Linux home directory.

Some users (mostly admin staff) have additional network drives O:, P: etc. - these are also stored on a Linux server and automatically backed up.

More about network drives

Files which do not need to be backed up may be kept on drive C: which is your PC's hard disk. This is the equivalent of scratch space for Linux users - the files will be lost if your machine suffers a hardware fault or has to be reinstalled.

Roaming Profiles and Folder Redirection

In a Microsoft Windows network environment you can either store a user's 'profile' on their local pc or on a remote pc. A profile is where all your settings are stored, Office settings, Internet Explorer settings etc. It is also where your 'My Documents' is along with any sub directories you may have within it. Basically, your profile is the part of the operating system that is controlled by you, it contains all the options you may choose to make your working environment individual and how you want it.

With local profile storing, all these settings are stored on the local hard disk. With roaming profiles, when you log off a Windows pc, your profile is copied onto a remote pc so that when you log in again, the profile is copied back (temporarily) allowing you to work. This means that you can log onto any Windows pc on the same network and your environment will look and feel the same whereever you work. If you used local profiles, each pc would hold its own separate copy of your settings etc, inevitably making each one different. Roaming profiles give you the flexibility to move around an establishment while retaining one setup.

In Maths we've used this idea of roaming profiles but tailored it to work with our existing facilities. Instead of copying your complete profile back and forwards every time you log on and off, we simply re-direct some parts of your profile to your N: drive. For example, My Documents is relocated to N:\private\My_Documents. This means that you can view any files within My Documents from a UNIX box if you should wish to as it's on your N: drive aka UNIX file space. It's also within your \private folder so only you can see these files.

The following folders are re-directed:

  • My Documents
  • My Pictures
  • Desktop
  • Favorites
  • Personal
  • Recent
  • Templates

Privacy

Important: if your account was not created with an N:\private folder, then one will be created for you the first time you log into a Windows machine, but it will not be created private.

To ensure that any files in your My Documents and Desktop folders are private, log into a Linux machine (via putty or WineX) and type the following:

mkdir -p ~/private
chmod 700 ~/private