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Troubleshooting Missing Network Shares

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Randy Downs
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Usually shares are where we want them for our users and we tend to take them for granted. There are times, however, when those shares may disappear causing difficulty for your users.

One of the first things to try is searching for files that should be on that share. You have to look for current files if these are being updated on a regular basis. In some cases you may find files that are the predecessor of those on the share.


Different Letters Assigned to the Drives

One possibility is that the server may have booted up and assigned different letters to the drives. We can use Computer Management to view disks, partitions, status &  assigned drive letters using an administrator account. You can get to Computer management via Start, right click Computer, & select Manage. In the Computer Management window you will find Disk Management under Storage. Hopefully the drive you are looking for is showing as healthy.

If the drive letter is wrong you can assign an available letter by right clicking on the partition and selecting "Change Drive Letter and Path". If the drive letter has already been assigned by another partition you will need to free it up by re-assigning the partition in question.

Devices Moved Recently - External Drive or RAID May not be Connected Properly

If devices have been moved recently then it's possible something got connected incorrectly. Search every drive you have connected and make sure you can account for all physical and virtual drives. If you find a missing drive ensure that it is powered up and connected properly. Some external RAID enclosures drives may have multiple connections (e.g., eSATA, USB).

The connections may not be obvious with devices like RAID enclosures with no visible model numbers . A RAID Manager Program can be useful in identifying the unit . You can probably locate a user manual once you have the model number. If not you will need to contact the vendor.

External Drive or RAID Powered off Incorrectly - I Powered It Off

Most of these shared devices should be disconnected gracefully using Windows Safely Remove Hardware to prevent losing data and shares if you don’t disconnect properly.

Powering off a shared RAID  or external drive without safely removing 1st may lose sharing information, permissions and data.

Administrators Added Shares to Fix Problem

If you are not the 1st administrator to work on the problem things can be even more complicated. Perhaps another administrator added shares. It can be confusing to see the share and not find your current files. If you see only old files then this share is either the wrong partition or the current files got wiped out. Finding the backup job may give you a clue as to which has happened.

If you have good backups that store multiple versions of your files then restoring missing files shouldn't be that difficult. If you have a backup that simply copies the shares on a nightly basis to another disk then it won't be much help in this situation.

Additions to Your Network - Multiple Administrators

If there have been additions to your network then server names may have changed to accommodate new arrivals. If the server name changed then you may need to remap the shares with the new server name.

drives & RAID  connected to New server - files Found - Multiple Administrators

If there are multiple servers the drives & RAID may not even be connected to the original server. If your device appears to be on the new server check that the device shows up in Disk Management and that the files are in place. If the files are OK then you may need to re-map your shares accordingly.

The alternative is to move the drives & RAID connected to original server.

drives & RAID  connected to New server - files Not Found - Multiple Administrators

If your device appears to be on the new server check that the device shows up in Disk Management and that the files are in place. If not then you should check the connections and consider moving it back to the original server. A RAID Manager Program with no RAID or vice versa may indicate a mismatch. Perhaps the last administrator had plans to move the missing device to a new server but didn't install the software.  RAID enclosures typically need software so look for the manager program.  

Much can go wrong with multiple administrators making changes. If possible contact the previous administrator to find out what has been done. Usually you want to reverse the last steps that were performed before the device quit working.
Author:Randy Downs
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