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Drive mapping is how operating systems, such as Microsoft Windows, associate a local drive letter (A through Z) with a shared storage area to another computer over a network. After a drive has been mapped, a software application on a client's computer can read and write files from the shared storage area by accessing that drive, just as if that drive represented a local physical hard disk drive.
Mapped Drives are hard drives (even if located on a virtual or cloud computing system, or network drives) which are always represented by names, letter(s), or number(s) and they are often followed by additional strings of data, directory tree branches, or alternate level(s) separated by a "\" symbol. Drive mapping is used to locate directories, files or objects, and programs or apps, and is needed by end users, administrators, various other operators, and users or groups.
Mapped drives are usually assigned a letter of the alphabet after the first few taken, such as A:\, B:\, C:\, and D:\ (which is usually an optical drive unit). Then, with the drive and/or directory (letters, symbols, numbers, names, and all other components) to be mapped and might be entered into the necessary address bar/location(s) and displayed as the following:
C:\level\next level\following level
C:\BDB60471CL\Shared Documents\Multi-Media Dept
The preceding location may reach something like a company's multi-media department's database, which logically is represented with the entire string "C:\BDB60471CL\Shared Documents\Multi-Media Dept." It is best to avoid confusing the physical devices in the system with virtual or emulated devices, and mapped drives, and doing this by reserving those areas of the hard drive and/or simply avoiding certain areas of your local disk(s).
Mapping a drive can be complicated for a complex system. Network mapped drives (on LANs or WANs) are available only when the host computer is also available (i.e. online) This is a requirement for use of drives on a host. All data on various mapped drives will have certain permissions set (most newer systems) and the user will need the particular security authorizations to access it.