[xplorer˛] — The path of least resistance
home » blog » 29 July 2007

"Having been erased; The document you're seeking; Must now be retyped." — random heiku

Somebody must have misplaced the sun this summer, it's nowhere to be found in london. The effect can be attributed to an increase in the number of pirates, which as every scientist knows the chief cause of global warming. But hey, a cool 20C is better than 40C and bushfires in greece. Shiver me timbers!

I think we have educated the fairer sex enough in the fundamentals of folders, so it's time to move on to something more advanced, namely network paths. When you want to transfer files from one computer to another you can either do it via an intermediate step (CDROM/USB stick etc) or you can directly connect the two machines. There many ways to achieve this linkage, either wired or wireless. The simplest would be a direct network card connection with RJ45 cable (8P8C).

For networks, the computer name (right click on "My computer" and pick Properties) is used to address other computers. Networking is an area where it really pays to leave the mouse to the side and start typing. Yes, you can access networks using the folder tree, but it's dead slow since it has to enumerate all surrounding computers. It's much faster to call the remote computer by name using the \\computer_name path construct, e.g. \\psh2port in our example. Notice the leading double backslash which marks a UNC path.

By default you have restricted access to remote computers hard disks and other storage. Only folders that have been marked as shared by the administrator of said computer will be available (now you know what the little hand overlay under some folders means!). For example: say the remote folder c:\scratch is shared using the name temp. To access it and its subfolders you combine the remote computer name, followed by the share name and perhaps a subfolder name as in \\psh2port\temp\pics (which translates to the physical folder c:\scratch\pics). Once in the remote folder, you can use it as a regular folder to either copy or paste files, if you have the necessary permissions.

If you use a network path often e.g. at work, you can map it to a drive letter using Map network drive command, available through right-clicking on "My computer" icon. This way you use a remote share like as if it was a local drive, e.g. Z:\ may correspond to \\psh2port\temp\, which is convenient for frequent access. These mapped drives show up in xplorer˛ drivebar too.

If you have administrator rights on the remote computer you can make use of preset administrative share names for all area access. \\psh2port\C$ will grant you access to C drive, \\psh2port\D$ to D and so on. Note the tricky trailing dollar $ign which causes the share name to be invisible. xplorer˛ has an option to show all these hidden shares, which can be enabled from Tools | Options | General menu. A couple of things to note here: first you'll need to provide your remote username and password to access these folders. Second, if you are running windows vista, you are almost always not running as administrator, unless you launch the program from the context menu, explicitly asking admin mode — so don't scratch your head if you can't see the hidden shares, it's just UAC making your life harder than it needs to be.

When you copy files over the network you have to keep in mind that the transfer rate is slower, and the connection is liable to break down unexpectedly. If you have a lot of files to move around you're better off using xplorer˛ robust transfer mode (Edit | Copy to menu), which is forgiving in case of network mishaps.

Now try to divert the missus attention from the latest harry potter book if you can :)

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