Question: What is the "MathNet" folder on my Windows desktop?
Author: Joseph Tam
Date: Jan. 16, 2007
This FAQ explains the contents of the "MathNet" folder. It should
be on every user's desktop for every public MathNet Windows workstation
we support. It contains useful information, shortcuts and links to your
Before you can use much of the content of the "MathNet" folder, you
must establish a Samba account which will identify you to the Samba
service. If you have an existing Samba account, you can skip this
section and go on to the next section.
If you do not have a Samba account (for example, if you click the
"Common" link and it comes back with a login window), you can initialize
your Samba account by going to this page
MathNet User Services: Password Change
site, log in using your MathNet username and password. It works best
if you set the password to the same as your MathNet password (or the
workstation password you most frequently use).
The "MathNet" folder contain the following items:
- README: this document.
- Common: this is the directory assigned to store your
personal data. It is stored as a subdirectory within your Unix
home directory which is located on our central file server.
- Web: this is your personal web folder (if it exists),
which is mapped to the URL
If you do not have a personal web directory but would like one,
please see the appropriate FAQ item on this subject.
- Snapshots: this folder contains
snapshots (backups) of the above 2 folders taken at 3 different
times. If you have accidentally deleted or altered a file in
the Common or Web folder, you can obtain a copy of those files
as they were at the time the snapshot was taken.
- Last hour: at the top of this hour.
For example, if the current time is 11:22, this folder
contains snapshots of your files at 11:00.
- Last night: snapshot at midnight this morning.
- Last Sunday: snapshot at midnight of previous Saturday/Sunday.
There are more snapshots available, but they are only available
using the Unix command line access. See the FAQ item on this
Using the "Common" folder to store your files rather than the desktop
of the Windows workstation or its local hard disk offers benefits:
- Availability: this folder (and all its contents) should
be available on all department public Windows workstations.
It can also be made available from any personal Windows
workstation (ask the IT staff for setup instructions).
If you prefer the convenience of having files readily available
on your desktop, you can store them in this folder, then make
shortcuts to them on your desktop.
- Back ups: if you accidentally delete or modify a
file, you can easily retrieve previous versions of that file
(see snapshots). Furthermore, this data
is copied onto tape storage for long-term backups.
- Remotely accessible: files can be retrieved using
remote file protocols (sftp, web, etc.) from other computers
or networks. If you store files on the desktop or local hard
disk, it will only be accessible from that workstation.
- Migration: if your MathNet account expires, this
data is archived and retained so that it can can be sent to your
new destination. Also, if a workstation needs to be updated or
replaced, this data will be available on the new host.
In either case, Data stored elsewhere will be purged.
There are some precautions you should take when using the central file service:
- Space limitations: the central file service has storage
quotas placed on the total amount of storage consumed by a user.
This prevents the problems where a user can consume all available
space and deprive other users of storage. See the FAQ entry
about quotas to find out how you can monitor the amount of
storage you use.
- Performance: the use of the MathNet file service incurs
performance overhead because data is transmitted over the network
rather than from the local hard disk. The performance penalty
is slight and not worth sacrificing the benefits for, but for
short lived files or files of no importance -- especially for
large files -- it may be better to store it on your desktop.
For Unix users, the folders above are located in
where set is either "home" or "web" and
time is one of "hourly.0" or "nightly.0"
The "MathNet" folder can be mounted on your personal Windows workstation
(if it is connected within the MathNet network) as
To mount your home directory, you can mount
Other web pages
These web pages were referred to: