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Steven Harmansteven harman :: makes sweet software with computers!

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Mapping Drives via Remote Desktop

Microsoft's integrated Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) is an essential tool in my developer's utility belt... and is one tool that I think every developer/computer geek should keep close at hand.

desktops

For the uninitiated, a Remote Desktop Connection allows you to log into a Microsoft Windows OS installed on a remote computer (i.e. - not the one you're sitting at) and use it just like you were sitting at it. You have full mouse & keyboard functionality, and you even seen the full UI on your local monitor.

What's it for?

At home I use Remote Desktop connections to log into and manage the servers on my network - the servers are literally two boxes in the utility room closet. They have a power cord and a network cord, and that's it! No mouse, no keyboard, and no monitors to be found.

So when I need to change a setting on my web server, or create a new file share on my file server, I just open a new RDC to the necessary server and viola! It's like I'm sitting at the server's terminal.

Transfer files to & from the Remote box

One of the most common tasks you'll need to do when using an RDC is transfer a file from your local machine to the remote machine that you're logged into. In the past I would open a new file share on the local machine and browse to it from the remote one. Or maybe I'd map a drive using NetBios.

But not anymore! Microsoft's RDP Client has a sweet little feature that will connect your local hard drives to the remote machine when you open a RDC.

How?

Local Resources

I'll tell you!

First, open the Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection (Start -> All Programs -> Accessories -> Communications -> Remote Desktop Connection). Then click on the Options button and go to the Local Resources tab. The bottom section of the tab is titled Local Devices, and there you will see a check box labeled Disk drives. Checking this box will automagically connect all disk drives on you local machine to the remote machine when you open the RDC.

When you get logged into the remote box, open My Computer and you'll see that all the drives (hard drives, floppy drives, CD/DVD ROM drives, and even mapped drives) will show up as mapped disk drives. Sweet!

Go ahead and open one of the newly mapped drives and transfer files to your heart's content. Now, how easy and painless was that!

From the Hope This Helps Department... enjoy.

Resources

What others are saying.

# Mapping Drives Via Remote Desktop
Gravatar you've been HAACKED
Oct 22, 2006
Mapping Drives Via Remote Desktop
# re: Mapping Drives via Remote Desktop
Gravatar Luigi Molinaro
Oct 23, 2006
Old news ? :D
# re: Mapping Drives via Remote Desktop
Gravatar Sean
Oct 23, 2006
Even better, you can copy and paste files once you have drives mapped.
# re: Mapping Drives via Remote Desktop
Gravatar Steve Harman
Oct 23, 2006
@Luigi: It is indeed old news... to those who paid attention to the options presented by the MS RDC Client. But being the lazy developer that I am, I had either never taken the time to notice the option, or more likely never taken the time to remember it. :)

@Sean: Copy and Paste (which is really the same as drag-and-drop in the GUI) is exactly how I "transfer" files between the local and remote machine.

One thing that I have noticed is the transfer rates seem to really bog down when using RDP over VPN. Now it could just be that my upload speed from home really sucks, or that the VPN server is really busy... but it seems like maybe there is some extra overhead in mapping via RDP.

Anyone else have experience with/noticed this?
# re: Mapping Drives via Remote Desktop
Gravatar Cullen
Oct 23, 2006
There is overhead from your VPN, and overhead from RDP. When you are running RDP, you are essentially sending all window messages, and an image, back and forth constantly over the wire. When RDP'ed over a VPN, you are also encrypting that data constantly. Large attachments will fill up your pipe, and will be larger, since encryption usually doubles the size of the plaintext data.

I posted another tip about RDP on my blog, at http://cullenwaters.blogspot.com/2006/10/going-bit-further-with-remote-desktop.html
# re: Mapping Drives via Remote Desktop
Gravatar Steve Harman
Oct 23, 2006
@Cullen: Thanks for the info. I assumed it was the extra over head from VPN combined with whatever RDP is doing to mount the local drives on the remote machine - but good to get some confirmation.

I only recently noticed this slow-down while I was working on a client's box that was across the country (read: not on my local network). When using the remote mounting technique on my LAN all is well and good, but for obvious reasons:
  1. it's the LAN where I have transfer speeds up up to 1Gbps (or sometimes just 100Mbps, depending on the box).
  2. I don't worry about using a VPN on the LAN.
But, as I said... this is expected. :)
# re: Mapping Drives via Remote Desktop
Gravatar Sean
Oct 24, 2006
When I said copy and paste I meant you can copy something on your machine's desktop or on your RDP screen and then switch to the other screen and paste it there, al without hunting through the mapped folder paths. For many files though, it is better to zip them up into 1 large file.
# re: Mapping Drives via Remote Desktop
Gravatar Steve Harman
Oct 24, 2006
@Sean: Almost as soon as I posted that comment it hit me that you were probably refering to RPD's ability to share/sync the local and remote machine's clipboards.

I didn't correct myself earlier b/c I didn't want to seem doubly dumb in case that wasn't what you were talking about. At any rate, at least now we're all on the same page. :)

Thanks again for the info.
# re: Mapping Drives via Remote Desktop
Gravatar JK
Oct 30, 2006
When I connect to Remore server using RDC turning on the Option, Disk Drive , I can not see my local drives from the remote computer. Anybody knows why?
# re: Mapping Drives via Remote Desktop
Gravatar Steve Harman
Oct 30, 2006
@JK: I'm not sure what to tell you. If you follow the steps as outlined above, your drives (HDD, CD, DVD, mapped network drives, etc...) should all appear on the remote machine.

The drives mapped via RDP will look like mapped network drives to the remote machine.
# re: Mapping Drives via Remote Desktop
Gravatar Tim
Nov 02, 2006
I have same problem. Other clients can connect and see drives but not from my Laptop. Driving me nuts.
# re: Mapping Drives via Remote Desktop
Gravatar Steve Harman
Nov 03, 2006
@Tim: So you're saying that you can RDP to SomeServerA from SomeComputerB and you'll see SomeComputerB's drives in the Remote Desktop Session. However, if you try to open a Remote Desktop session to SomeServerA from YourLaptopC, then you DO NOT see YouLaptopC's drives.

Is this correct?

What OS (and service pack) is your Laptop running? What OS is on the server you're RDP'ing to? Do you have a firewall on your Laptop?

Just trying to get some more info... perhaps another reader will have a similar setup and be able to provide a solution. :)
# re: Mapping Drives via Remote Desktop
Gravatar Kurbli
Nov 08, 2006
Use TSDropCopy from AnalogX (http://www.analogx.com/CONTENTS/download/system/tsdc.htm)
# re: Mapping Drives via Remote Desktop
Gravatar Steve Harman
Nov 08, 2006
@Kurbli: Thanks for the tip and the link - I think I'll have to give that a try and see how it works out.
# re: Mapping Drives via Remote Desktop
Gravatar GRANT
Jan 09, 2007
If you want to speed up access times, provided you are on your LAN, use the internal LAN address in the RDC window. The connection will be musch faster and, provided you have adminstrative rights (which you probably should) you can access all the functionality of your server and high speed. Obviously if you are elsewhere in the world you need to use the public IP and you will have to put up with slower transfer rates.

Note: this is different to just accessing your server drives over your interal LAN. I know it may sound obvious but I thought I would put it out there for the newbies. Simply accessing your server drives over the internal LAN sdoesnt allow you to change settings, set up server functions and other functions like RDC does.
# re: Mapping Drives via Remote Desktop
Gravatar Steve Harman
Jan 09, 2007
@Grant: Good tip!

And I like that you're looking out for the noobs... we've got to remember that we were all there once.
# re: Mapping Drives via Remote Desktop
Gravatar Gus
Apr 11, 2007
For info, I read on another website that you cannot map drives via RDC on a machine that you are connecting too if that remote machine has Windows 2000 installed. XP or 2003 would work tho. Very anoying as its a win 2000 server im connecting too. Arrr
# re: Mapping Drives via Remote Desktop
Gravatar Steve Harman
Apr 13, 2007
Gus, Thanks for the tip... I had no idea as all of the boxes on my LAN are Vista, XP, or Server 2003.
# re: Mapping Drives via Remote Desktop
Gravatar Linda Ewen
Apr 15, 2007
How do I copy a file in basic code.

I tried"
Filecopy "c:\file1.txt", "tsclient\c:\file1.txt"

and it does not work.
# re: Mapping Drives via Remote Desktop
Gravatar Linda Ewen
Apr 16, 2007
I figured it out.

First map the tsclient drive and then it is the normal copy to the mapped drive.
# re: Mapping Drives via Remote Desktop
Gravatar Steve Harman
Apr 16, 2007
@Linda: Glad you were able to figure it out, and thanks for the update.

My only advice was going to be to read Gus's comment and make sure you're connecting to a machine that supports mapping via RDC.
# re: Mapping Drives via Remote Desktop
Gravatar Ray
May 10, 2007
Thank you! I really appreciate this post!
# re: Mapping Drives via Remote Desktop
Gravatar Manish
Jun 05, 2007
I am not able to see the local drives mapped on the remote machine even if i have selected the option to share the local drives at the time of connect. Any idea, why this could be happening.

Thanks
# re: Mapping Drives via Remote Desktop
Gravatar kasarin
Jun 22, 2007
I am having the same problem with you guys that I cannot map my local drive to my remote desktop computer. I could map my drives successfully yesterday but it just fail today.
# re: Mapping Drives via Remote Desktop
Gravatar Bill Sullivan
Jul 28, 2007
I am having the same problem and have noted the comment above regarding Win2K. My RDP connection is from my XP Pro PC at home to my Win2K Terminal Services Server at work through an Instagate harware firewall, I really do need to implement file sharing but without disrupting the other users (local as well as RDP) on the system. Is anyone else having this problem and does anyone know of a work around? Any advice will be appreciated.
# re: Mapping Drives via Remote Desktop
Gravatar Dayakar.Sunderraj
Sep 17, 2007
Answer For Isssu mentioned before :
============================================
When I connect to Remore server using RDC turning on the Option, Disk Drive , I can not see my local drives from the remote computer. Anybody knows why?

You need to check the terminal Service configuration setting -->client setting and check for disable the following , where Drive mapping will be checked , unchecked it and then try to connect you can able to the local drive on the server .

# re: Mapping Drives via Remote Desktop
Gravatar yuvaraj
Oct 27, 2007
Well i have go my local drives in remote desktop. but it's like [c on <hostname>] . i dont want to look like this. i want this one to be c:,d: as we see normally. could anyone quickly???
# re: Mapping Drives via Remote Desktop
Gravatar Pavi
Dec 03, 2007
I am not able to copy files from local machine to remote desktop. Can any one suggest any tips to do it?
# re: Mapping Drives via Remote Desktop
Gravatar Max
Dec 05, 2007
merci mille! c'est très utile
# re: Mapping Drives via Remote Desktop
Gravatar Henrik
Dec 08, 2007
Same problem here: I check the box, and I should be able to see my diskdrives, but I can only see connected USB-drives, and my DVD-drive - but not my C-drive on the laptop. Why? What else do I need to do?
# re: Mapping Drives via Remote Desktop
Gravatar Roger
Dec 17, 2007
The C-drive problem.
Will be corrected in SP1 for Vista
# re: Mapping Drives via Remote Desktop
Gravatar Liam
Jan 10, 2008
Re the copying speed - there is a hack that you can use that allocates more of the connection to the virtual channel (that sounds, disk drives, printing etc) ratehr than screen updates. By default rdc uses 70% screen 30% virtual channel.

For those having issues with drives not appearing make sure you go into the box and actually tick the drives you want (this is on rdp 6.1, not sure about 6.0) or use;
drivestoredirect:s:C:; in your rdp file. (again not sure if will work in 6.0)
# re: Mapping Drives via Remote Desktop
Gravatar Steven Harman
Jan 11, 2008
@Liam, thanks for the awesome tips! Sounds like it's time for me to get with the program and upgrade to 6.1 :)
# re: Mapping Drives via Remote Desktop
Gravatar Stack
Jan 18, 2008
All you have to do is to go the terminal server configuration screen and uncheck the disable local drive box
# re: Mapping Drives via Remote Desktop
Gravatar Judy
Jan 29, 2008
Thank you, thank you, all you computer nuts, for the simple directions stated in plain language and the amazingly simple tools to do such complex tasks. This humble biologist thanks you! (You have no idea how long it took me to fail to map drives before I gave up on that...)
# re: Mapping Drives via Remote Desktop
Gravatar Nat
May 18, 2008
Thank you, this has been bugging me for several weeks and no-one I asked knew the answer.
# re: Mapping Drives via Remote Desktop
Gravatar AG
Jul 08, 2008
I am having a similar problem related to local drives mapped via the technique described earlier. I can see the drives as C on myhostname, but when I iterate to a local subfolder it is taking like 30+ seconds per folder click. My TS is in San Diego and I am in NY. Do you have any ideas why folder iteration is so slow. The actual file copying is OK. I could create more drive maps or a local repository and manage once logged off the TS, but I would rather get the the root of the problem. Thanks for the help.
# re: Mapping Drives via Remote Desktop
Gravatar Sandeep
Jul 10, 2008
i m not able to use the local drive sharing thing on my 2000 server. the client setting where the where Drive mapping will be checked ,...it is not allowing me to uncheck...i mean its not highlighted...i have installed tsdc on the server...do i need to install it on the client system also
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