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Network Shares and UNC paths

, 11 Nov 2003 CPOL
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Classes to enumerate network shares on local and remote machines, and convert local file paths to UNC paths.


Two common requirements seem to have been missed from the .NET framework: enumerating network shares, and converting a local path to a UNC path. The shares could potentially be retrieved via WMI, but you can't guarantee that NT4 and 98 will have it installed. These classes provide a simple wrapper around the API calls necessary to retrieve this information.


To retrieve the UNC path for a file on a mapped drive, call WNetGetUniversalName. This doesn't work on Windows 95, but neither does the .NET framework, so I don't care!

If the path is on a local shared folder, WNetGetUniversalName won't help. In this case, you need to call NetShareEnum and look for a matching path. The function behaves completely differently across NT/2K/XP and 9x/ME, so there are two versions of this code.

  • In the NT version, you may not have permissions to access the SHARE_INFO_2 information, so the code will revert to the SHARE_INFO_1 structure. In this case, the path will not be available.
  • On Windows 9x/ME/NT4, the server name (if any) must be prefixed with "\\". The code will check this, so you don't need to worry.
  • On Windows 9x/ME, there is no way to resume the enumeration, so the code will return a maximum of 20 shares.



Encapsulates information about a single network share, including the server name, share name, share type, local path and comment. Also has some utility methods to determine if it is a file-system share, whether it matches part of a local path, and returns the root directory.


A strongly-typed read-only collection of Share objects. Shares can be retrieved by index or by path, in which case the best match will be returned. Includes factory methods to return the shares for a specified computer, and static methods to return the UNC path and local share for a local path.

Interesting Note

The Windows 98 structure SHARE_INFO_50 is declared in the file SrvApi.h. Towards the top of the file, there is a line which reads #pragma pack(1). Although this looks like complete gobbledegook, it is actually important. The number in brackets specifies the packing for all structures in the file. According to MSDN, the alignment of a member will be on a boundary that is either a multiple of n or a multiple of the size of the member, whichever is smaller.

In the case of the SHARE_INFO_50 structure, the default packing, pads the structure to align the members on 8 byte boundaries. This meant that the size was calculated as 44 bytes, when it should be 42. Two extra padding bytes are added to the end of the structure to make the length a multiple of 4, the size of the native integer.

After tearing my hair out trying to work out why the size was wrong, and why taking two bytes off the end reduced the size by four bytes, I finally noticed the Pack property of the StructLayoutAttribute class. Adding Pack=1 to the attribute fixed the problems, and the code now works on Windows 98.


The testShares.cs file contains a sample console application which demonstrates the main functionality. The testShares.exe file is the compiled version of this sample.

// Enumerate shares on local computer
Console.WriteLine("\nShares on local computer:");
ShareCollection shi = ShareCollection.LocalShares;
if (shi != null) 
    foreach(Share si in shi) 
        Console.WriteLine("{0}: {1} [{2}]", 
            si.ShareType, si, si.Path);

        // If this is a file-system share, try to
        // list the first five subfolders.
        // NB: If the share is on a removable device,
        // you could get "Not ready" or "Access denied"
        // exceptions.
        if (si.IsFileSystem) 
                System.IO.DirectoryInfo d = si.Root;
                System.IO.DirectoryInfo[] Flds = d.GetDirectories();
                for (int i=0; i < Flds.Length && i < 5; i++)
                    Console.WriteLine("\t{0} - {1}", i, Flds[i].FullName);

            catch (Exception ex) 
                Console.WriteLine("\tError listing {0}:\n\t{1}\n", 
                    si, ex.Message);
    Console.WriteLine("Unable to enumerate the local shares.");

// Resolve local paths to UNC paths.
Console.WriteLine("{0} = {1}", 
    fileName, ShareCollection.PathToUnc(fileName));


  • 25 September 2002 - Original Release
  • 13 March 2003 -
    • Changed the ShareCollection to inherit from System.Collections.ReadOnlyCollection.
    • Moved the P/Invoke code inside the ShareCollection class, and removed the internal Interop class.
    • Fixed the packing bug on Windows 9x. Note to self: When the C++ header file says #pragma pack(1), don't ignore it!
    • Added support for level 1 share enumeration on Windows 98, which is required to list shares on remote machines, but isn't documented in MSDN.
  • 12 November 2003 - Bug fix


This code is (very) loosely based on a VB6 solution by Karl E. Peterson [].


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)


About the Author

Richard Deeming
Software Developer Nevalee Business Solutions
United Kingdom United Kingdom
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Comments and Discussions

QuestionCode doesnot work in 64 Bit Applications Pin
Winfried Wille, 25-Mar-14 7:08
professionalWinfried Wille25-Mar-14 7:08 
AnswerRe: Code doesnot work in 64 Bit Applications Pin
Richard Deeming, 25-Mar-14 7:25
professionalRichard Deeming25-Mar-14 7:25 
GeneralRe: Code doesnot work in 64 Bit Applications Pin
Winfried Wille, 25-Mar-14 7:37
professionalWinfried Wille25-Mar-14 7:37 
QuestionExe works but source does not Pin
davidcole, 2-Feb-14 11:06
memberdavidcole2-Feb-14 11:06 
AnswerRe: Exe works but source does not Pin
Richard Deeming, 3-Feb-14 2:52
professionalRichard Deeming3-Feb-14 2:52 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pin
Midax, 20-Sep-13 9:53
memberMidax20-Sep-13 9:53 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pin
EdsonF0007, 6-Sep-13 6:27
memberEdsonF00076-Sep-13 6:27 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pin
John Simmons / outlaw programmer, 17-Nov-12 11:44
mvpJohn Simmons / outlaw programmer17-Nov-12 11:44 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pin
Romulus-Tours, 28-Feb-11 6:14
memberRomulus-Tours28-Feb-11 6:14 
GeneralFail of ShareCollection.GetShares(""); and ShareCollection.GetShares(@"\\"); in Vista Pin
Josep Maria Roy, 7-Jan-10 4:59
memberJosep Maria Roy7-Jan-10 4:59 
GeneralRe: Fail of ShareCollection.GetShares(""); and ShareCollection.GetShares(@"\\"); in Vista Pin
Richard Deeming, 7-Jan-10 5:32
memberRichard Deeming7-Jan-10 5:32 
Questionsam thing in java?? Pin
gaurav_nanda, 21-Mar-08 5:50
membergaurav_nanda21-Mar-08 5:50 
GeneralLicence issues ... UNC classes Pin
vin kerai, 18-Dec-07 16:42
membervin kerai18-Dec-07 16:42 

Can anyone please advise of any licence issues with regards to using these classes.

GeneralRe: Licence issues ... UNC classes Pin
ThunderWeasel, 26-Jul-11 8:54
memberThunderWeasel26-Jul-11 8:54 
GeneralFunctionality is too robust for needs Pin
vachaun, 19-Apr-07 9:45
membervachaun19-Apr-07 9:45 
GeneralRe: Functionality is too robust for needs Pin
Richard Deeming, 19-Apr-07 9:52
memberRichard Deeming19-Apr-07 9:52 
GeneralRe: Functionality is too robust for needs Pin
vachaun, 19-Apr-07 10:17
membervachaun19-Apr-07 10:17 
QuestionAccessDenied flag wrong? Pin
Toby_, 9-Mar-07 3:36
memberToby_9-Mar-07 3:36 
AnswerRe: AccessDenied flag wrong? Pin
Richard Deeming, 9-Mar-07 3:45
memberRichard Deeming9-Mar-07 3:45 
GeneralRe: AccessDenied flag wrong? Pin
Toby_, 12-Mar-07 1:58
memberToby_12-Mar-07 1:58 
QuestionHow to retrive Shared Files(not folder) using WMI Pin
i_razi, 23-Feb-07 10:56
memberi_razi23-Feb-07 10:56 
AnswerRe: How to retrive Shared Files(not folder) using WMI Pin
Richard Deeming, 26-Feb-07 4:32
memberRichard Deeming26-Feb-07 4:32 
GeneralRe: How to retrive Shared Files(not folder) using WMI Pin
i_razi, 26-Feb-07 10:53
memberi_razi26-Feb-07 10:53 
GeneralWTF [modified] Pin
lexodus, 22-Feb-07 22:34
memberlexodus22-Feb-07 22:34 
GeneralRe: WTF Pin
Richard Deeming, 23-Feb-07 1:31
memberRichard Deeming23-Feb-07 1:31 
GeneralRe: WTF Pin
lexodus, 23-Feb-07 4:30
memberlexodus23-Feb-07 4:30 
GeneralThanks a lot! Pin
lexodus, 22-Feb-07 6:42
memberlexodus22-Feb-07 6:42 
GeneralRe: Thanks a lot! Pin
mrjmwcom, 3-Apr-07 8:53
membermrjmwcom3-Apr-07 8:53 
GeneralBug with IsValidFilePath Pin
Monkeyget2, 26-Jan-07 5:35
memberMonkeyget226-Jan-07 5:35 
GeneralRe: Bug with IsValidFilePath Pin
Richard Deeming, 26-Jan-07 5:46
memberRichard Deeming26-Jan-07 5:46 
QuestionShow file list under UNC path Pin
jhtang, 22-Jan-07 10:18
memberjhtang22-Jan-07 10:18 
AnswerRe: Show file list under UNC path Pin
Richard Deeming, 26-Jan-07 5:55
memberRichard Deeming26-Jan-07 5:55 
QuestionASP.NET Pin
neongenesis1975, 13-Aug-06 21:57
memberneongenesis197513-Aug-06 21:57 
AnswerRe: ASP.NET Pin
Richard Deeming, 14-Aug-06 1:39
memberRichard Deeming14-Aug-06 1:39 
GeneralGreat wrapper. Pin
Slackshot, 29-Jun-06 12:04
memberSlackshot29-Jun-06 12:04 
GeneralRe: Great wrapper. Pin
itamar82, 12-Aug-08 23:02
memberitamar8212-Aug-08 23:02 
GeneralRe: Great wrapper. Pin
colin.newell2, 24-May-09 9:29
membercolin.newell224-May-09 9:29 
Generalcopy files from local computer to the remote computer using WMI Pin
arunpnet, 20-Apr-06 22:00
memberarunpnet20-Apr-06 22:00 
GeneralRe: copy files from local computer to the remote computer using WMI Pin
rajukvrk78, 22-Jan-07 9:14
memberrajukvrk7822-Jan-07 9:14 
GeneralPlease help me! Pin
Anonymous, 16-Apr-05 7:51
sussAnonymous16-Apr-05 7:51 
GeneralNetShareEnum returns 2351 error code Pin
_Saper_, 2-Mar-05 3:05
member_Saper_2-Mar-05 3:05 
GeneralRe: NetShareEnum returns 2351 error code Pin
Richard Deeming, 2-Mar-05 10:14
memberRichard Deeming2-Mar-05 10:14 
GeneralRe: NetShareEnum returns 2351 error code Pin
_Saper_, 2-Mar-05 20:22
member_Saper_2-Mar-05 20:22 
GeneralError Code 50 Pin
Anonymous, 17-Feb-05 3:46
sussAnonymous17-Feb-05 3:46 
GeneralRemove a network share Pin
cjk00700, 9-Jul-04 13:23
membercjk007009-Jul-04 13:23 
GeneralRe: Remove a network share Pin
aejw, 10-Mar-07 20:00
memberaejw10-Mar-07 20:00 
GeneralShares on a Server /Network Pin
Anonymous, 8-Jul-04 14:19
sussAnonymous8-Jul-04 14:19 
QuestionHow to get sub dirs? Pin
jmacduff, 21-May-04 7:13
memberjmacduff21-May-04 7:13 
AnswerRe: How to get sub dirs? Pin
Richard Deeming, 25-May-04 7:02
memberRichard Deeming25-May-04 7:02 
GeneralRe: How to get sub dirs? Pin
jmacduff, 25-May-04 7:46
memberjmacduff25-May-04 7:46 

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