What is a “Z: drive?”

Your Z: drive is a connection between your sessions on a School of Computing PC running Microsoft Windows, and your file space on our primary department server running UNIX. It appears as “Z:” in Windows Explorer and at the Windows command prompt, and may contain files and folders that correspond to actual files and directories on the server. The Samba protocol, as implemented on the UNIX server, provides the communication path between the two operating systems and makes for a more or less seamless connection. Files and folders stored on your Z: drive behave under Windows as if they were stored on a hard drive or on a flash/thumb drive.

Why do I want or need a Z: drive?

Unless the lab you are working in has a method of reliably and regularly backing up the PC you are working on, you risk losing your data in the not unlikely circumstance of a failed hard disk. Your Z: drive represents space on a server that is backed up nightly while providing the illusion that it is a local drive on your computer.

I don’t have a Z: drive. How do I get one?

You can ask a technician to set one up for you, or, if you’re feeling confident, you can follow the directions provided here. A possible complication in mapping the drive yourself is that there are three passwords involved, one each for Windows, UNIX, and Samba, and these may not all be the same. If these steps don’t work for you, that may well be why. In addition, a specific Windows Registry setting must be made in order for Windows versions 7 and up to make a drive mapping to the school’s server called innovate. This setting is made routinely when a school technician sets up a PC, but if you are running a Windows PC (or virtual machine) that was not configured by a school technician, you may run into problems and will need to seek help.

  • Open an Explorer window (any will do).
  • Select Tools|Map Network Drive…
  • In the field marked “Drive,” select “Z:”. Note: this is the default choice. If another drive letter such as “Y:” or “X:” is displayed instead of “Z:”, it’s likely that your Z: drive already exists.
  • In the field marked “Folder,” type in “\\innovate.cs.queensu.ca\ZDrive” (without the quotation marks).
  • Make sure “Reconnect at logon” is checked. (It is checked by default.)
  • If your UNIX account and your Windows account have different user IDs and/or passwords, you will need to provide your UNIX account information by way of the “different user name” link.
  • Click “Finish.” This should close the Map Network Drive window, and open an Explorer window displaying the contents of your Z: drive (if any).

If these steps do not work for you, contact a service technician.

Where is my Z: drive?

Your Z: drive is mapped to a directory (folder) called Zdrive in your home directory on a UNIX file server. In most cases, your home directory will be on innovate.cs.queensu.ca, but your research group may use a different server for the purpose.

Can my Z: drive be my Windows “My Documents” folder?

Yes. To make it so:

  • Right-click on your current “My Documents” folder.
  • Select “Properties.”
  • On the “Target” tab of the “My Documents Properties dialogue, click on “Move…”
  • In the “Select a Destination” dialogue, click on the “+” sign beside “My Computer”
  • Select “Zdrive on ‘Zerver (innovate)’ (Z:).”
  • Click on “OK” to close the “Select a Destination” dialogue.
  • Click on “OK” to trigger the move and to close the “My Documents Properties” dialogue. Any files and folders in your old “My Documents” folder will be copied to your Z: drive.

How large is my Z: drive?

Since your Z: drive is a connection to one of your UNIX directories (folders), the amount of storage space in your Z: drive is directly dependent on the disk space that has been allocated to your UNIX account. This is called your quota. At this writing, new accounts on the school’s primary UNIX server are given a quota of 200MB. Unfortunately, there is no convenient way in Windows to monitor your UNIX disk usage, so it is advisable to log onto innovate now and then to check things out with the UNIX command

quota -v
If you exhaust your UNIX quota, you will not be able to save files or create new directories (folders) in your Z: drive. Depending on your PC’s configuration, you may experience other side effects.

How do I get more space for my Z: drive?

Contact a service technician to increase your UNIX quota.