The W drive and Web migration

Despite how everybody commonly talks about it, the W: drive is not actually the location where the website files are stored. Really it’s just a shortcut that leads to the real location. From your end, it looks like any other drive attached to your computer, but it is just a shortcut to a specific network location. That location is currently on the old server, which is why we can’t automatically map the W: drive on your somputer now (To “map a drive” means to set up that shortcut so the drive letter or icon points to the proper network location.) This is also why you have to enter your old password when you run that pesky little batch file to map the W: drive (or when Mac users connect to “/maverick_nt/wou_website$”.)

Since the W: drive (and any other network drive letter or Mac network drive icon) is really just a shortcut, it can be different for different people. A good example of this is your H: drive; it points to a different place for every person, namely their private network folder. Conversely, some people use different drive letters to point to the same location; for instance, at least one person I know of has a Z: drive on their computer that points to the web server files, so for them it’s exactly the same as the W: drive. Mostly we try to keep things standardized here so everybody uses the same letters for the same things, just to keep confusion down. Mac people don’t have this extra level of complexity since Mac’s don’t use drive letters; you just see a named icon, though that’s still actually a shortcut.
Why all this explanation, you may ask? Why do we need to care that the W: drive isn’t actually the location that holds the files? Because what I’m about to say won’t make sense without the concept that drive letters and icons are actually just shortcuts that can be mapped to different locations.
Here’s the process: First, we copied the web data from the old server to the new server. All of your W: drives still map to the old location, as does the web address (If it helps, you can think of a web address as just another kind of drive letter that happens to be visible in web browsers instead of in your “My Computer” folder; it’s a shortcut that points someplace, and the place it points to can be changed.) If you have edits to make, you should continue to make them through the W: drive; the copy we made is just a temporary one anyway.
Once we get the editing permissions figured out, we’ll apply them to the temporary copy of the files. We’ll create an X: drive for everybody that points to that temporary copy, so you can test that your editing permissions still work. You can view those test changes at, which is a temporary web address. You still want to make real updates to the W: drive, though, because the web address still points there, and so that’s what people see on the live website. With me so far?
After everyone has had a chance to test their permissions on the temporary files, and we fix any problems we found in the process, we’ll delete the temporary copy of the files, and remove the X: drive. Then we’ll do the actual web migration. At this point you need to hold off on making any web edits until informed that the migration is complete. We will copy the files from the old server again, including any changes you made up until that moment. That took about fifteen hours when we did the test copy, so you can count on it taking about that long with the real thing. When that’s done, we’ll run the permissions script to reset everybody’s editing rights, and change the address so it points to the new server, and set up an automatic mapping of the W: drive to the new server. All this should take less than a day, including the file copying.
Once this is done, you can throw out those drive-mapping batch files; they won’t work anymore because the W: drive will be mapped automatically at the time of login, if you have any web rights. From your point of view, things will look pretty much the same as they did before; you will still go to to get to the website, and use the W: drive to edit your files. It’s just that both of these shortcuts will be pointing to the new server instead of the old one.

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