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ARCHIVED: What is meant by mounting a drive?

Before your computer can use any kind of storage device (such as a hard drive, CD-ROM, or network share), you or your operating system must make it accessible through the computer's file system. This process is called mounting. You can only access files on mounted media.

Formats and mounting

Your computer stores data in specific, structured file formats written on a piece of media (such as a disk or CD-ROM). Your computer must be able to read the format on this media in order to interpret its data properly; if the computer does not recognize the format, it will return errors. Also, forcing your computer to work with corrupted or unrecognized formats will cause it to write data incorrectly, possibly rendering unrecoverable all the files stored on the media.

Mounting ensures that your computer recognizes the media's format; if your computer cannot recognize that format, the device cannot be mounted. When media is successfully mounted, your computer incorporates the media's file system into your local file system, and creates a mount point, a locally available link through which you access an external device. In Windows or Mac OS X, the mount point is represented by a disk or other icon; in Unix or Linux, the mount point is a directory. Most operating systems handle mounting and unmounting for you.

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Last modified on January 03, 2013.

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