Windows 7: Adding a Network Directory to a Library without Indexing

Windows 7 introduces Libraries to the PC user, a feature intended to help organize files from the point they are saved. Though powerful when used properly, this feature does have it's limitations and drawbacks, one major one being the difficulty of including network directories in these libraries.

What are Libraries?

The users of many multimedia programs such as iTunes will be familiar with the library format. Basically, it is a virtual folder that contains links to other directories that house the types of files you are looking to organize. Windows 7 takes this concept a step further by applying it to the operating system as a whole, allowing the Documents library to link to various other directories on the local system. Also included are Music, Picture, and Video libraries to do the same.

Any folder on the local hard drive can be added to these libraries to help centralize file access. Though the files will still be stored in their directories on the drive, they can be accessed from the libraries easily.

In many corporate and home networks, you may store files on servers or other networked locations. When trying to add these locations into a library, Windows 7 will tell you that the drive must be indexed and made available offline in order to be added. Depending on the size and amount of files in the network location, this can take a substantial amount of time, and also poses a security risk as the network location must be available offline. It will also eat up valuable disk space as a local copy must be downloaded to the PC.

We will explore a workaround to this problem in this article.

Adding a Network Directory to a Library

To add a network location to a library, use a symlink to point to the network folder location:

  • Create a local folder in the C:\Users\username\ directory. This can be named anything you want, so long as it is a valid directory name.
  • Add that folder into the library. Open the library from the menu bar, then click on the Includes: # locations link at the top. Click the Add button on the right side and select the folder you just created.
  • Delete the local folder that you created. DO NOT remove it from the library.
  • Start a Command Prompt (Start->Run, type CMD and press Enter).
  • Type the following command: MKLINK /D "LINK" "TARGET". Replace LINK and TARGET with the path of the folder that was just deleted and the path of the network location you wish to add to the library, respectively. For a full explanation of the MKLINK command, type MKLINK /? and hit enter.

If you browse to the C:\Users\Username\ directory, you will now see a symbolic link (symlink) with the same name as the folder that was previously deleted. Exploring this will lead you to the network location that was entered as the target. Open the library, and you should see the network location as a location. Any changes made to the folder in the library will reflect automatically in the network location, and vice versa.

Congratulations, you've just added a network drive to a library without indexing it!

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Comments 15 comments

Mr. Bungle 6 years ago

This is a clever work-around, but there are a couple of draw-backs with it. I have written a tool to do the job properly - and it provides some additional features like backup/restore of library sets. You can download it for free (+ WPF source) here:

http://zornsoftware.talsit.info/?p=3


abendin profile image

abendin 6 years ago Author

I took a glance at the website and the tool looks great. I'll download it later today and try it out (perhaps even link to it in the future, if you don't mind).

I know my method is really jerry-rigged, but it works for those of us who prefer not installing 3rd party software when possible. To each his own, I suppose. Thanks for the comment!


craigman 6 years ago

== This is how to search network files and index network files without having to store a copy on your own dam computer. ==

So after a long hard search i have found the answer to my own problem. (putting up with this for 3 months)

This patch allows you to add network files to the index without having to make them "always available offline".

It will add a tab in the Indexing Options menu called "Add UNC Location" this is where you add the path of the network folder.

UNCFATPHInstaller.msi

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?Di...

To Add to Library

http://zornsoftware.talsit.info/?p=3

always available offline is not a real solution for network storage, you can't make 2TB available offline if you have a 200GB hard drive


Christopher 6 years ago

# Create a local folder in the C:\Users\username\ directory. This can be named anything you want, so long as it is a valid directory name.

# Add that folder into the library. Open the library from the menu bar, then click on the Includes: # locations link at the top. Click the Add button on the right side and select the folder you just created.

# Delete the local folder that you created. DO NOT remove it from the library.

==============================

I don't understand when I click the includes file it asks me to index the files. The second second of instructions mentions "Delete the local folder that you created,Do not remove it from the library" I'm confused.


mathume 6 years ago

Doesn't work for me on Windows7


SSJ 6 years ago

Thanks abendin,

Your this article helped me a lot.

I was looking out for any method to add network locations to the Music Library to use it in WMP rather than installing another Music player.

This article exactly solves the same problem.


Wookie 5 years ago

Top notch mate. Relatively simple and painless, and much easier to follow than those crappy Microsoft Help Pages (especially as the help pages don't seem to know how to index a network share or load one to libraries without it being indexed.)

Good man - thanks again ;)


Printing Dept 5 years ago

I wish I'd found this article sooner... Thanks so much. Worked like a charm


Jason 5 years ago

GREAT TOOL!

Makes everything easier. Worked like a charm. Much appreciated.


Kathy 4 years ago

This worked GREAT. Thanks for not making me install 3rd party software for such a simple action.


Nick 4 years ago

AMAZING TOOL - THANK YOU


Andrew 4 years ago

In computer science, a library is a collection of resources used to develop software.[disputed – discuss] These may include pre-written code and subroutines, classes, values or type specifications.

Libraries contain code and data that provide services to independent programs. This encourages the sharing and changing of code and data in a modular fashion, and eases the distribution of the code and data.

____________________________


Ron 4 years ago

I really like your hub, thank you for putting it up .

Ron from the http://www.intervalstraining.net


Flo 4 years ago

it's work for me but in my library but the search funciton doesn't work.


Johnf617 2 years ago

Wow, marvelous blog structure! How long have you been running a blog bdekadekgcbe

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