Access documents in SharePoint as easily as in a network folder

Today came the following comment in the Slack of Lambda3, about storing shared files on a network folder on our server files:

For those who want to keep shared data, we recommend to teams that use Sharepoint. But, the practicality of a share on the network is bigger then we create the <nome-servidor>Projetos.</nome-servidor> Each project can have a share there.

But is it really true that the story of "practicality of a share on the network is bigger? I mean, no one discusses the benefits of using a shared folder on a local server, accessible natively from any program on Windows, compared to SharePoint use (which depends on the browser or any synchronization tool, like the OneDrive for Business).

What they didn't know is that the comparison does not make any sense. Access SharePoint is (literally) as simple as accessing a network share.

What do you mean?

Regardless of whether your organization uses Office 365 (i.e. SharePoint Online) or SharePoint on-premises, the process is very similar. To access the SharePoint as if it were a network folder, follow the steps below:

First add your SharePoint site to the Trusted Sites zone in Windows:

SharePoint sites (in this example, SharePoint Office 365 Online) added to the list of Trusted Sites
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Users of Office 365? So now open the document library in SharePoint in Internet Explorer (Yes, I know …)Smile, click the Library tab, and then select open with Explorer. NOTE: this step is required only for SharePoint Online, especially if you are using Single Sign-On via Azure AD. Without it, you cannot authenticate your user. In the case of a SharePoint on-premises, with standard authentication (Basic, NTLM or Kerberos) you don't have to.

The "Open with Explorer" in the bar ("ribbon") of SharePoint
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And that's it. Simple as that! Now, whenever you want to access a folder in SharePoint, simply enter your address directly in the address bar of the File Explorer:

Opening a SharePoint folder in File Explorer, directly from the address bar
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However, I have to hand one thing to be typing those huge URLs every time you want to access a folder in SharePoint is not exactly the most convenient in the world, do you agree? So let me teach you another trick: Add this URL to the File Explorer as a network location and it will be available whenever necessary from the my computer screen ("This PC") of the File Explorer. First right-click in a blank area in the File Explorer and select "Add a network location" ("Add a network location").

Right-click a blank area of the File Explorer and select "Add a network location"
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In the wizard that appears, place the SharePoint URL to the folder that you want to access with frequency (in my example, https://lambda31.sharepoint.com/documentos%20compartilhados). Now, she will be easily accessible whenever you need, from any application:

SharePoint folder accessible from the File Explorer
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Oh, and on the command line? Also gives? But of course!

But there's a gotcha (always has, right?). On the command line can use URLs to specify the address of the SharePoint. Instead, we should use UNC.

The UNC format, in turn, depends on an important factor: If you access the SharePoint is made by SSL or not:

  • Http: <servidor-sharepoint>davwwwroot<site><biblioteca> </biblioteca> </site> </servidor-sharepoint>
  • HTTPS (SSL): \<servidor-sharepoint>@ssl davwwwroot<site><biblioteca> </biblioteca> </site> </servidor-sharepoint>

The part of "davwwwroot" is mandatory. In our example, then, the UNC path to access SharePoint from the command line would look like this:

\lambda31.sharepoint.com @ ssldavwwwrootdocumentos%20compartilhados

Access from the command line, by using UNC path
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Oh, and if you do not want to enter this dirty word all the time, can map a drive letter (such as S:) and access even more easily:

You can map the SharePoint folder to a drive letter to simplify access
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And, of course, the new drive letter may be used in any application-graphical or command line. Fully transparent.

New mapped drive s:, pointing to a SharePoint library
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You may be thinking, "How did I not know that? Already use SharePoint for years and I had no idea! " I remember the first time I saw that * I * working, wondered "what is the magic?!"

The "magic" has a name: WebDAV

To expose the SharePoint document libraries as network folders, Microsoft takes advantage of the WebDAV protocol, implemented by SharePoint and supported natively in Windows since at least Windows XP, via the Web Client service.

The Web Client is a redirector that translates file system calls to the WebDAV protocol, allowing access to remote files via HTTP.

Bet you didn't know what serving the Web Service Client:-)
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In other words, in the same way that Microsoft has a redirector to your native network protocol (SMB/CIFS), it offers support for alternative protocols such as FTP or WebDAV, which can thus be accessed as if they were a single shared folder on a network server.

Conclusion

Have you seen? Access files in SharePoint can be exactly equal to a common network folder. Easier, right? Well, it is clear that at this moment there's a lot of people ready to start heated arguments about the use of SharePoint as a file server. But regardless of whether it is recommended or not, is a tipSmile.

And then, what did you think? I knew this "trick"? Leave your comments!

 

 

A hug,
Igor

Author: Igor Abade

Igor Abade V. Leite ([email protected]) is a Visual Studio ALM MVP (Microsoft Most Valuable Professional) since 2006. Speaker at various Software Development community events (TechEd Brasil, The Developers’ Conference, DevOps Summit Brasil, Agile Brazil, Visual Studio Summit, QCON among others), has also written articles in magazines and websites such as MSDN Brazil. Since March/2011 is one of the owners of Lambda3, a Brazilian consulting company specialized in ALM, software development and training. Visit his blog about VS ALM at http://www.tshooter.com.br/ and follow him on Twitter @igorabade.

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