Drive Mapping from SharePoint to Windows Server

In my day job I have the unenviable task of looking after our connection to a SharePoint server. I say unenviable because if there’s one thing that is going to go wrong this connection or something to do with it is what will fail. We don’t run the SharePoint service it’s provided by one of our customers and hosted in the cloud. Pretty much all we have to do is download some files and upload a few others. Sounds like it should be an easy job yeah? Anyone who has worked with the SharePoint web interface will know it’s a painful experience to move a lot of files around so to make it easier we map a network drive to the share.

For some reason I’ve never quite got to the bottom of this drive mapping has never been an easy experience. Part of the problem is that our customer uses a customised log in system rather than the standard system offered by Microsoft. This complicates providing a username and password but it’s not the end of the world, it means you have to log into SharePoint in IE before you can map the drive.

The problem I faced today was that no matter what I tried I couldn’t get the drive to map. I was at a command prompt and entering a net use command and every time it was giving me either a “system error 67” or “system error 53” followed by “the network name cannot be found”. I could ping the server so it clearly wasn’t a problem with network connection and IE didn’t have a problem showing me the web view of SharePoint.

The only other thing that was suspicious was that if I tried to view a SharePoint folder in Windows Explorer using the “All Documents > View in File Explorer” link it would briefly open a small IE window and then nothing would happen after it closed. I tried checking the console in IE but there were no error messages. My hunch was that it was something to do with the ActiveX that launches Windows Explorer and that turned out to be right.

The Solution

After entirely too much googling I’d draw a complete blank so I decided to go back to basics. By a stroke of luck I decided to start by looking into WebDAV as that’s how SharePoint transfers files (at least that’s my understanding anyway). The first page I read was this one detailing how to install WebDAV client on Windows Server 2016. I didn’t hold out much hope but it looked like a safe feature to install anyway so why not give it a go.

To my deep joy after installation and a restart the drive would finally make. The “network name cannot be found” nonsense was a complete red herring, the whole system used to make the connection was missing it was just being reported really badly.

To install the required feature start up “Server Manager” and select “Add roles and features”. Click next until you get to “Features” and then select “WebDAV Redirector” and install it, you’ll need to reboot the server afterwards. It seems that prior to Windows Server 2008 R2 this feature was installed by default, as luck would have it the previous machine I was working on was Windows Server 2008.

I don’t want to tell you how long it took me to figure this out but hopefully someone will come across this post and it’ll save them some time.