Windows 7/8 Libraries and Network Shares

[sc:windows-category ]I have to admit that when I first saw the libraries in Windows 7 I was not convinced I liked them.  For the first few months I actually hacked the registry to get rid of them.  However, since then I have to admit I have come to kind of like them.

One issue I had with them was that I used a network share for my files so that they are available on any of the systems I use.  Windows requires these shares to be indexed on the server and I did not have indexing enabled on my servers.  In Windows 7 I used the Zorn Software Windows 7 Library Tool (the site seems to be down at this time) which allowed you add any location to a library no matter if Windows thought it was supported or not.

This worked, but was a hack and some features didn’t work (or were horribly slow).  When I upgraded to Windows 8 it didn’t work at all so I decided to try to get it functioning “correctly”.

The first step was to add indexing on the servers.  There are two indexing services in Windows Server 2008, the traditional 2003 service and the new Windows Search Service.  Both are added in the features/role section the server manager.  The Windows Search Service is what is required for Windows 7/8 to support indexed file shares and the installation was straight forward.

Theoretically that should have been all that was required, adding the share to the library should then have worked.  However that is not the case.  I have spent several weeks trying to debug the issue of adding the network shares to the libraries and continue to have the dreaded “This network location can’t be included because it is not indexed”.

I found a workaround with a quick search which was to create local symbolic links on drive c and then including these in to the libraries.

This worked (and in fact fixed another annoyance as I replaced the “My Documents” folder with the symbolic link which means anything that doesn’t follow the proper procedure and looks directly on disk instead of through the registry/API they still get to the network share instead of writing to drive c) however the pictures and videos library didn’t display any thumbnails.

There were several suggestions online, including that using short UNC names might fix the issue.  However non of them worked.

I was finally poking around my network share when I noticed that thumbnails were showing up on my pictures/video folders if I went to the mapped drive but didn’t show up through the library link.

I finally decided to remove all my libraries and add them back in.  The first time I added them it put the symbolic link in the configuration (so in my case for music “C:\Users\Greg\Music”).  This time when I added them back in Windows followed the symbolic links and added the full UNC path.  After that the thumbnails came up correctly.

I’m not sure what changed, I suspect when I first created the libraries the indexing hadn’t completed on the folders and Windows never checks to see if indexing is available again.  Recreating the libraries links forced Windows to check again if indexing was enabled  on the server-side and then was happy.

In the end the following steps should get a network share added to a Windows 7/8 Library:

  1. Install Windows Search Services on your file server (if you are using DFS you may have to add it to your DFS root servers as well)
  2. Wait for Indexing to complete on the servers
  3. Remove your local profile directories from the Libraries
  4. Replace your local profile directories with Symbolic links to the network shares (use mklink from the command prompt)
  5. Add your new symbolic links to the Libraries (once added verify they use the UNC path instead of the local symbolic link)

 

Greg

Greg is the head cat at JumbleCat, with over 20 years of experience in the computer field, he has done everything from programming to hardware solutions. You can contact Greg via the contact form on the main menu above.

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Greg

Greg is the head cat at JumbleCat, with over 20 years of experience in the computer field, he has done everything from programming to hardware solutions. You can contact Greg via the contact form on the main menu above.