Access shared folders on Synology NAS from Windows 10

I just upgraded from a Surface Pro 3 to a Dell XPS 13 laptop, but found that the XPS13 could not access any shared folders on my Synology DS212j NAS even though I had no problems doing the same thing on my Surface Pro 3–both PCs are running the latest version of Windows 10. Based on what I could find, it appears to be a problem with the Linux-based NAS and newer versions of Windows 10. I tried many “solutions” without success, but after a lot of futile effort, an idea popped into my head from decades ago and it actually worked!

First, let me give you the details of my problem:

  1. All of the normal Windows file sharing settings were set.
  2. I had no issues accessing the shares from my desktop or my Surface Pro 3–both running the latest Windows 10.
  3. On the XPS 13, Windows File Explorer would show the networked computer DISKSTATION, but double-click it and I’d get an error that the path could not be found. (Note that at first, the networked computer didn’t show up consistently, but eventually it did.)
  4. Trying to go directly to \\DISKSTATION didn’t work either.
  5. I was, however, able to successfully access the shares using the NAS’s IP address (i.e., \\ (NOTE: IF YOU CANNOT ACCESS THE SHARES USING THE IP ADDRESS, MY SOLUTION BELOW WILL PROBABLY NOT WORK FOR YOU.)
  6. I could also access a folder shared on my Windows desktop without issues.

Weird, right?

Well, after wasting days on this, I found the solution: the Windows hosts file. I remember using it eons ago when I was doing web development to map custom hostnames to IP addresses. I wondered what would happen if I hard-coded the NAS’s network name and its IP address. Turns out, it solves my problem!

Here are the steps:

  1. On the problem PC, run Notepad as Administrator. (To do this, just search for Notepad, right-click it and choose Run as administrator.)
  2. Open the hosts file. It is located at c:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc\hosts.
    Note that the hosts file has no extension, so you have to set the file type to All Files to see it in the dialog.
  3. At the bottom of the file, add a line with the IP address of your NAS and its hostname separated by some spaces. For example:      DISKSTATION
  4. Save the file. It will automatically be read by Windows. Not need to reboot or anything.
  5. Now, open File Explorer and click on Network in the Task Pane on the left. DISKSTATION should appear in the list of Computers.
  6. If it doesn’t appear, try clicking the recycle button to the right of the input box at the top. If that doesn’t work, try typing \\DISKSTATION directly into the box and press Enter.
  7. Assuming everything else is set up properly, double-clicking DISKSTATION should bring up all of its network shares.

I suppose this is kind of a kludge solution, but it’s simple, straight-forward and–most importantly–works. Good luck!

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