Stands for "Universal Naming Convention or Uniform Naming Convention."

UNC is a standard format for naming and accessing shared resources on a local area network (LAN). Using it allows an operating system that supports UNC (like Windows) to access files and folders over a network just as easily as on the local computer. UNC can identify many types of devices on the network — computers, printers, scanners, NAS devices, or any other device that can store and share files.

A UNC path consists of three elements: the server name, the shared directory, and the filename, separated by backslashes. A UNC can be entered anywhere in an operating system that a local file path would be to access a shared network resource.

A typical UNC path appears as follows:


  • The server name can be a string that identifies a server set by the server's administrator using DNS or WINS, or it could be the server's IP address.
  • The shared directory is a directory shared on the other device. Each share on the server is separate from the others.
  • The filename is not necessarily only a file name. It can also contain subfolders of the shared directory to display the full file path.
Updated November 2, 2022 by Brian P.

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