Has anyone managed to create a service using datasets referenced via a mapped network drive letter on windows? ESRI support claims it is not "supported", but I want to make sure it is actually not possible or just "not supported" as in "not recommended".

the permissions are properly set up for my SOC account, since the services created using UNC path to reference datasets are working fine. I guess it all comes down to making the ArcGISSOC account understand those letters. I think I tried logging on as the ArcGISSOC and mapping the drives manually, but it doesn't seem to work.

Any ideas?


  • 3
    Wait, why would you want to do this? I don't understand your reasoning. Mapped letter drives are rarely a good idea in my experience with any server-related businesses. They just cause headaches down the road regarding RAID arrays, SAN's, NAS's, etc. When moving over to Apache or other non-Windows server instances it will be a big headache usually.
    – MLowry
    Oct 11, 2011 at 12:09
  • 1
    Well I think ideally I would be happy not to use to them but historically we (my company) have been using mapped drives as a abstraction layer to allow mxds to be copied across various offices/servers (without breaking the links, as long as long as the relevant datasets were copied as well and using the same folder structure). If I could make this work it would work well with our existing file structure.
    – Jahfet
    Oct 11, 2011 at 22:13

3 Answers 3


Mapped network drive are profile specific and only exist with an interactive logon.

Since it is the ArcGISSOC account accessing the data, a mapped network drive cannot exist since that account never logs in interactively and the mapped network drives for the user account does not carry over to that SOC account.

Although I haven't tested this, you may be able to get mapped network drives to work if you leave an active logon session for the ArcGISSOC account and create mapped network drives for it.

Also here is evidence that a windows service needs to be specifically created to access mapped network drives. It's possible that this hasn't been done for the ArcGIS SOC monitor service spawning ArcSOC.exe processes.

  • 1
    if you are trying to build some extra security with the mapped network drive you would be losing any gain with exposing the SOC account
    – Brad Nesom
    Oct 11, 2011 at 14:12
  • Thanks Thomas, I think that is the clear and definitive answer I was looking for!
    – Jahfet
    Oct 11, 2011 at 22:18

You should use the methods in this section of help to manage services and resources.
esri help


Warning: I've never tried this so I don't know if it will work with ESRI services nor if this will cause black ESRI helicopters to raid your site ;-). I have done it for other services and I know it can work but I make no warranties. I welcome other more knowledgeable ESRI users to share their experience.

That being said, let's get into the details.

@Thomas who answered before me is right: mapped network drives are not accessibile to Windows services.

But on the other hand Windows services can be setup to access the UNC path to which the drive is mapped. For instance: drive Z: is mapped to \\someserver\someshare

A windows service can't reference Z: because it doesn't have a logon session so no drive mappings are possible or recognized. But the service can still access \\someserver\someshare if the service runs under a user account that can access the share.

Usually this is achieved by going into the Services control panel and changing the user account under which the service logs on. Typically this is LocalSystem and you would then change it to something like DOMAIN\USER (or SOMESERVER\SOMEUSER) where DOMAIN\USER is an account that has access to \\someserver\someshare.

If the ESRI service is already started as a regular user (ie not LocalSystem) then things are much easier. Simply create a user with the same username and password on someserver and assign the appropriate privileges so that it can access someshare.

  • Thanks for your answer Unicoletti, however I don't think I made myself clear. I don't see how what you describe can help me with my problem: I already know that the services can access network shares using the unc path, and I have sucessfully created gis services using that method. what I wanted to know was if there was a way to make the service understand things like Z:\ == \\myserver\myshare, just like a normal user could.
    – Jahfet
    Oct 11, 2011 at 22:27

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