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Endpoint Virtualization Community Blog

Saving Files in a Virtual World; Do You C:\ What You're Doing?

Created: 14 Dec 2005 • Updated: 29 Jul 2010
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There are a few things one needs to understand before saving files in a virtual environment -- especially if you export application layers for use on different machines. SVS pro Evan Thomas shows us how to avoid the sticky consequences of saving to a lettered drive in this new, virtual world.

When you're running a virtual application, changes you make -- including any documents you create -- are saved to the application layer, regardless of where (C:\ or D:\ or E:\ ...) you tell the changes or files to be saved. (The exceptions to this rule are if you have an exclude entry in the layer or a data layer capturing a particular directory or file type -- but that's another tip.)

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When working with virtual applications, it's especially important to remember that drive letters are not the same on every computer. It's a safe bet that C:\ exists as a hard drive on almost any computer. It's not, however, a safe bet that E:\ on every computer is going to be a hard drive.

The cautionary tale here is for users who set up a virtual application, do some work, save some changes and then export the application layer for use on another computer. If this sounds like you, read on, my friend.

The headache I'm trying to help you avoid is best described in the following scenario. On my machine and I have C:\ and D:\ as hard drives. When working from an application in a layer, if I save a file I created in that application to a location like D:\MyFiles\Newfile.doc the file is actually created in my layer and isn't really saved to the D:\ at all. Not a problem, right? Well, if I export that layer and then import it to a machine that has C:\ as a hard drive but D:\ is a DVD-ROM or doesn't exist, when I activate my layer, the file will not appear. Sure the data is in the layer, but since the drive is not recognized as a hard drive it does not appear on the system and the data is inaccessible.

You can manually go into the layer and change the location of the file from D:\MyFiles\Newfile.doc to C:\Myfiles\Newfile.doc so it will show on the new system you are working on, but why save the file in the D:\ in the first place? It's not really going there!

Hopefully, this tip has given you the Juice, clarified how things work in this brave, new virtual world, and will give you something to think about before saving something to a drive that may not exist in all locations of your environment.

Editors note: For more information on this topic, read "How to Access Layer Data When the Path to the Layer Doesn't Exist"