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I'm not very computer savvy, so these are probably stupid questions.

I work with a Windows 10 PC at a small business which is part of a network. The files I work with are all saved on a "shared drive" on the server computer".

 

Sometimes I save files to my Desktop or download files to my Downloads folder on the C:\ Drive, before saving an updated copy to the "shared drive" at the end of the week.

When I right-click and view properties for C:\ and view the "Sharing" tab, it says this drive is "Not Shared".

 

Questions:

1) Does "Not Shared" mean that C:\ is not a part of the company's network and can't be accessed /viewed from the other computers?

 

2) If it's not shared, does that mean that all the work I've been saving to C:\ hasn't been getting backed-up?

 

3) Sometimes during my break, I create and work on documents (I write a lot) that aren't company related. Before my break ends, I copy the file to a USB flash drive and delete the original from the C:\ drive. Sometimes I also access files on the USB flash drive, and save changes I make to them.

Since all the work is happening on C:\ and the USB flash drive, will it show up on any network event logs / file audits?

It was nothing illegal and I've done this a few times now without any incident, but I want to avoid any trouble this might cause.

 

4) If I download a PDF file off the internet and it gets saved to the "Downloads" folder on C:\, will it get automatically backed up to the company "shared drive", or would I have to manually make a copy to the "shared drive" to make sure that it gets backed up too?

 

Thanks,

T-Ruth

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Answers:

1.  Correct.  The C drive has not been setup to share data and should not be setup to do it.

2.  Probably not.  However you need to discuss this with the company IT person(s).  If the shared Drive is is a part of the company backup regiment then it may be a good idea to make sure the data is copied there.  You should discuss the concept of backups of data for both within the company and its server and on your company provided computer.

3.  Probably not.  However it is not a good idea to work on personal data when on your employer's time.  They should be separated and if you are concerned enough to ask the question then what you are doing may not be a "good idea".  It has nothing to to do with illegalities.  It has to do with employee-employer ethics.

4.  Probably not.   Again, this goes back to the discussion I suggested in Answer #2.  You should understand what is backed up and what is not and apply the concept that if it is company related material then it being a part of company backup regiments may  be warranted.  You can presume that data stored on a company Server's Shared Drive is backed up as part of a company backup regiment

Data on a server can be accessed in either of two ways.  Directly through a Uniform Naming Convention  ( UNC ) name such as...

\\server\share_name

and

\\spad.sharepoint.site@SSL\DavWWWRoot\org_div\share_name ( WebDAV  UNC )

 

or it may be what called a "Mapped Drive" where a Drive Letter is assigned to that Server Share Name such as "K:".  For example the following is a command line to assign a Mapped Drive to a share name...

net use k:  \\server\share

In the above drive "K:" has been assigned to that share such that it points to that server share.  A Mapped Drive may be performed manually such as by using the above command line or can be used through the OS GUI and can be a temporary assignment or a permanent assignment.  If the employer is using "Best Practices" then they are applying a Login Script such that when you login to your company provided computer Server Shares are automatically assigned to Mapped Drives and are available to you upon Logon.

A company may provide both a Personal Share and a Corporate/Division wide data share or shares..

The Personal Share is a place where you have access to the server where you can store all your data that you don't necessarily need to be shared with others but should be backed up as part a part of the company data backup regiment.  In some company environments the local Documents location my be overwritten and assigned to a Personal Share on the company server.

A Corporate/Divisional Share is where data is placed on the server where you and other employees have access to read and write data that is to be shared amongst employees.

A few points...

  • No matter what the situation is, don't store personal files on your company provided PC.  Store them only on removable media.  Never place them on Company Server shares.
  • Understand the company policies for;  data backups, personal data and for the use of Removable Media.
  • Don't be afraid to ask questions about company policies and procedures concerning computer use.

 

 

Edited by David H. Lipman
Spelling, Grammar and Clarification

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Thanks for the detailed replies.

1. Good to know! This morning I checked all the C drive folders I worked with and they all say "Not Shared". It seems I've been rather unsafe saving my files in those folders and not regularly backing them up on the shared drive.

2. We don't have an in-house IT person and my employer is usually reluctant to contact our consultant unless there's an emergency. The next time the consultant happens to be in the office, I'll be sure to ask about this.

3. I've only been doing this during my breaks, but I guess I'll stop just to be on the safe side.

4. Our shared drive looks like the UNC thing you listed in your example, since it doesn't show a drive letter. I'm not the most computer literate person so most of what you wrote for this one kind of went over my head. What is the difference between UNC and a Mapped Drive?


Regarding your notes at the bottom. I have used removable media (USB flash drive) on-and-off in the past. Will this show up in any log files?


Thanks for the detailed reply,

T-Ruth

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A Mapped Drive is a Drive Letter that is substituted for and simplifies the access of a point of data to be shared.

For example;  It is harder to "find" a network share than it is to just load Windows Explorer and Browse available drives. 

The concept of a UNC ( Uniform Naming Convention ) also allows disparate systems to share data.  For example a Unix system can be setup to share data through a UNC.  An Apple or Microsoft system can then access the data that the share represents.  It is the Microsoft OS that provides the ability to assign a Drive Letter to that shared data point making accessing it a seamless part of using Microsoft Windows.

There is also a construct called a Substituted Drive.  This serves a similar function but is used to simplify a long path ( normally on a local drive but can be used to shorten a long path on a Mapped Drive as as well.  )

A Mapped Drive allows a Drive Letter be assigned to a Network Share and simplifies its access.

Obviously accessing "K:"  is easier than using \\server_name\Share_Name 

The Substituted Drive can simplify a long path such as...

c:\users\lipman\documents\april 2016\new york city\data

This sub-folder can be simplified by assigning "L:" to c:\users\lipman\documents\april 2016\new york city\data

by the following command line.

subst   L:  c:\users\lipman\documents\april 2016\new york city\data

It is obvious to see how using Drive L: makes accessing that data folder "easier".  Mapping a drive letter to a network share makes it easier to access that Shared Data as well.

USB Drives:

A company that has no full-time IT but relies on an "On Call Consultant" will not have sufficient policies in place about USB Drives and will not really care about employees using them and having someone viewing Logs.

 

Edited by David H. Lipman
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Thanks for the information. Some of what you wrote is still a little too complex for me, but I think I sort of get it. Essentially, mapping a drive allows the administrator to assign a drive letter to it, making it easier for users to locate and use it.

Strangely, our "shared drive" doesn't actually have a drive letter. In order to find it I have to open Windows Explorer and then click on Network. The shared drive is listed in the "Computer" section with the name "Shared".


I'm relieved about the USB monitoring, but there is one thing about it I was wondering about.

1. Would saving over the files in C:\, renaming it, and then deleting it, make it less recoverable?

For example: If I have a My_Little_Pony_FanFic.txt, and save a copy of a spreadsheet over this file with the same name, and then rename it Important_Account.xlsx, before deleting it, will the original still be recoverable and will this change get recorded in a log?

2. Unrelated to the previous questions, I was wondering how far back the History folder keeps records. I've noticed that this folder (C:\Users\userid\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\History) has a list of every document I've opened or downloaded. It used to have subfolders for the previous days and one called "3 weeks ago", but as of yesterday, it only shows "today" and yesterday's files. Is there a certain cut-off period, where the computer purges old history records?

Thanks,

T-Ruth

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Hi T-Ruth:

As for #1.

You can do that  but, I think it is overboard and and overreaction.  All I can suggest is THINK about what you process personally on your employer computer while on the company's time-clock.

As for #2.

There are both algorithms and settings for the lifespan of such data.  Such data can also be deleted.   When you THINK about what you process personally on your employer computer while on the company's time-clock such worries become a moot point.

As for ... " Strangely, our "shared drive" doesn't actually have a drive letter. "

Not having a full-time IT person on-staff means there is no person to regularly streamline the business processes your office performs in its "mission".  When you know that can assign a Drive Letter to that Share, you can do it manually and permanently such that every time you Logon to that computer that Drive Letter will be there and all you have to think about is saving and processing data on Drive "X:

 

 

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Sorry to bother you with more questions, but something REALLY STRANGE just happened. Following your advice, I've made copies of the important files to the Shared Drive to make sure they were getting backed-up.

Being a little paranoid, I've renamed and deleted my personal files from the C:\ Drive, and that's when something odd happened.

One of the files in the Downloads folder couldn't be renamed for some reason. The mouse pointer would turn into a spinning blue circle showing that it was working on renaming the file, but it couldn't seem to complete the task. After a few seconds, File Explorer would say "not responding".

Since File Explorer seemed to be stuck, I closed it down, but this would cause it to crash. I tried this twice with the exact same result; File Explorer would close, and the taskbar would disappear for a few seconds before reappearing.

I didn't know what was wrong with the file. Scanning it with Windows Defender came back with clean results, but I didn't want to risk opening it. I decided to save over the file and see if it behaved differently after overwriting.

Using Google Chrome I downloaded a different file using the same name so it would replace the original. It took a long time and eventually it got stuck at "0 bytes" remaining.

In the Downloads folder, I could still see the original file and the crdownload file. I'm assuming the crdownload file was the incomplete download in progress.

I went back to Chrome and canceled the frozen download. When I returned to the Downloads folder, both the original file and the crdownload file was gone!

Since I canceled the download, I didn't think the original would just vanish like that. I moved the mouse pointer to the Undo button to see if I can reverse it, but all the mouse rollover showed was my attempt to rename the file. I tried clicking it just in case it might bring back the file, but a pop-up appeared saying that the file cannot be found.

 

So here are my questions:

1. What was preventing me from renaming this particular file in the first place?

I never opened the file. I even tested renaming other files in the same folder and they were all renamed without any problems.

 

2. Did my computer delete the file on its own, or is it hidden somewhere?

I tried using search, but wasn't able to find it.

 

3. Could someone have been trying to move the file out of my drive at the same time or was viewing it?

This is what I'm most worried about, but I don't know if it's even possible. The drive and folder the file was in, isn't shared. Also, would Chrome have allowed me to attempt overwriting a file that was in the process of being moved or was already opened?

 

4. If the file really was opened or being moved by another user, would there at least have been some warning or sign that the file was currently in use?


Any help / advice you can provide would be appreciated.

Thanks,

T-Ruth

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1.  It might have been a link to the file and not the actual file.

2.  Doubtful

3.  Doubtful

4.  Yes.

 

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1. I'm pretty sure it was the file itself. I had File Explorer opened to the Downloads folder and I right-clicked the file and selected rename.

2. So I guess the file that disappeared is probably unrecoverable. I checked the Recycling Bin this morning and there is no sign of it in there either. I didn't think the computer could completely lose a file like this.

3. As an experiment I just tried moving a file from C:\ Downloads folder to a USB flash drive. While it was moving, I then tried to overwrite it with another file.

Surprisingly, I was able to save over it! What ended up happening is that the USB flash drive ended up with the original version of the file, while the Downloads folder got the new version of the file.

That being said, all of this was done on my computer and not from another computer accessing it over a network, so I don't know if this would still work if another computer was involved.

4. Just to clarify this, do you mean that if the Administrator was moving the file out of my Downloads folder, I would be notified when I tried to rename and overwrite it?

Thanks,

T-Ruth

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