Libraries - Great idea in theory but Disaster in the making

Hi all.

The library concept is a great idea in theory -- and if you only have one non networked computer then this post does not apply.

The idea is (finally for a Windows OS) of course to organise data by CONTENT rather than worry about the Physical location of it. A typical example these days is say in Music or Video files. People have very large music collections that can certainly spread over more than one disc, so by accessing your music collection say as MUSIC_1990_2004 for example you could retrieve any / all track(s) in the library even if the tracks were on different disks. Great idea as even backing up becomes simpler -- you just say Backup Library MUSIC_1990_2004 and it will do it. You don't have to worry if you've missed a few tracks that you'ved just moved to a brand new disc you've installed. Library Management handles all this.

Now this is where the killer comes in. Say you are on another computer (even a Windows 7 machine) on your network and you are in a situation where you can't use RDP or RDP isn't desirable anyway then you are stymied as the library won't show up in the network map.

So my dear colleagues the 64,000 dollar question is how do you access your Music library when you are logged on to the remote computer (even if it's a W7 machine).

The Libraries don't show up as shares so the only way is "the old fashioned way" is to ensure all the shared directories and individual drives are defined as shared. Now of course this will lead to problems as you will have double house keeping to do. Each time you add data to the library you also have to ensure that it is shareable as a file / folder on the remote machine.

What a dogs dinner of a mess and also a nightmare to maintain -- and I haven't yet tried what actually happens to a library entry if I delete a file using the networked computer (which doesn't show the remote library).

The Library facility could have been especially good in corporate environments - sharing libraries for individual projects is a great idea and should make it easier for the IT depts to manage disk storage better and for users to have more reliable backups.

Had Microsoft implemented Shared libraries this would have been a HUGE push for corporations to upgrade as shared / collaboration data is really important -- and to any of you who have ever worked in an organisation with decent sized networks you must of seen the total mess that's out there already for this stuff and the difficulty of maintaining it sensibly.

Added -- There are music etc cataloguing programs out there -- the point of this post however was to show the drawback of Libraries in a Networked environment. If you still have to use 3rd party software for even basic Library management across a Network then IMO the whole scheme was a waste of time. Had this been implemented properly it could have been a real KILLER APP for Ms - especially in a corporate environment).

Added - if you use HOMEGROUPS (finally an actual USE for these) you can share libraries - but only with Windows 7 machines that are members of the Homegroup.

It's a bit fiddly to set up and as you can only have 1 Home group per home network it rather restricts the usefulness to relatively small networks.

In a corporate or work environment you would want different sets of libraries available to different machines on the LAN. This unfortunately can't be done with "Homegroups". Better than nothing but still far short of a sensible shared library system.

BTW to make the library "shareable" on the home network choose the SHARE WITH option on the explorer bar (before the BURN option).


New Member
I agree, I didn't even realize that libraries weren't shareable until I read your post. I hadn't checked on it but I had wrongly assumed that they would be. Seems like a huge oversight on M$s part. Hopefully this will be something that's added in on the RC? It doesn't seem like it'd be anything difficult to write in, but then again I've never written much code so I have no idea. :)

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