Accessing a Shared File (UNC) From a Remote, Non-Trusted Domain With Credentials

We've run into an interesting situation that needs solving, and my searches have turned up nill. I therefore appeal to the SO community for help.

The issue is this: we have a need to programmatically access a shared file that is not in our domain, and is not within a trusted external domain via remote file sharing / UNC. Naturally, we need to supply credentials to the remote machine.

Typically, one solves this problem in one of two ways:

  1. Map the file share as a drive and supply the credentials at that time. This is typically done using the NET USE command or the Win32 functions that duplicate NET USE.
  2. Access the file with a UNC path as if the remote computer were on the domain and ensure that the account under which the program runs is duplicated (including password) on the remote machine as a local user. Basically leverage the fact that Windows will automatically supply the current user's credentials when the user attempts to access a shared file.
  3. Don't use remote file sharing. Use FTP (or some other means) to transfer the file, work on it locally, then transfer it back.

For various and sundry reasons, our security / network architects have rejected the first two approaches. The second approach is obviously a security hole; if the remote computer is compromised, the local computer is now at risk. The first approach is unsatisfactory because the newly mounted drive is a shared resource available to other programs on the local computer during file access by the program. Even though it's quite possible to make this temporary, it's still a hole in their opinion.

They're open to the third option, but the remote network admins insist on SFTP rather than FTPS, and FtpWebRequest only supports FTPS. SFTP is the more firewall-friendly option and there are a couple libraries I could use for that approach, but I'd prefer to reduce my dependencies if I can.

I've searched MSDN for either a managed or a win32 means of using remote file sharing, but I have failed to come up with anything useful.

And so I ask: Is there another way? Did I miss a super-secret win32 function that does what I want? Or must I pursue some variant of option 3?


The way to solve your problem is to use a Win32 API called WNetUseConnection. Use this function to connect to a UNC path with authentication, NOT to map a drive.

This will allow you to connect to a remote machine, even if it is not on the same domain, and even if it has a different username and password.

Once you have used WNetUseConnection you will be able to access the file via a UNC path as if you were on the same domain. The best way is probably through the administrative built in shares. Example: \\computername\c$\program files\Folder\file.txt

Here is some sample C# code that uses WNetUseConnection.

Note, for the NetResource, you should pass null for the lpLocalName and lpProvider. The dwType should be RESOURCETYPE_DISK. The lpRemoteName should be \\ComputerName.

For people looking for a quick solution, you can use the NetworkShareAccesser I wrote recently (based on this answer (thanks so much!)):


    File.Copy(@"C:\Some\File\To\copy.txt", @"\\REMOTE-COMPUTER\My\Shared\Target\file.txt");

WARNING: Please make absolutely sure, that Dispose of the NetworkShareAccesser is called (even if you app crashes!), otherwise an open connection will remain on Windows. You can see all open connections by opening the cmd prompt and enter net use.

The Code:

/// <summary>
/// Provides access to a network share.
/// </summary>
public class NetworkShareAccesser : IDisposable
    private string _remoteUncName;
    private string _remoteComputerName;

    public string RemoteComputerName
            return this._remoteComputerName;
            this._remoteComputerName = value;
            this._remoteUncName = @"\\" + this._remoteComputerName;

    public string UserName
    public string Password

    #region Consts

    private const int RESOURCE_CONNECTED = 0x00000001;
    private const int RESOURCE_GLOBALNET = 0x00000002;
    private const int RESOURCE_REMEMBERED = 0x00000003;

    private const int RESOURCETYPE_ANY = 0x00000000;
    private const int RESOURCETYPE_DISK = 0x00000001;
    private const int RESOURCETYPE_PRINT = 0x00000002;

    private const int RESOURCEDISPLAYTYPE_GENERIC = 0x00000000;
    private const int RESOURCEDISPLAYTYPE_DOMAIN = 0x00000001;
    private const int RESOURCEDISPLAYTYPE_SERVER = 0x00000002;
    private const int RESOURCEDISPLAYTYPE_SHARE = 0x00000003;
    private const int RESOURCEDISPLAYTYPE_FILE = 0x00000004;
    private const int RESOURCEDISPLAYTYPE_GROUP = 0x00000005;

    private const int RESOURCEUSAGE_CONNECTABLE = 0x00000001;
    private const int RESOURCEUSAGE_CONTAINER = 0x00000002;

    private const int CONNECT_INTERACTIVE = 0x00000008;
    private const int CONNECT_PROMPT = 0x00000010;
    private const int CONNECT_REDIRECT = 0x00000080;
    private const int CONNECT_UPDATE_PROFILE = 0x00000001;
    private const int CONNECT_COMMANDLINE = 0x00000800;
    private const int CONNECT_CMD_SAVECRED = 0x00001000;

    private const int CONNECT_LOCALDRIVE = 0x00000100;


    #region Errors

    private const int NO_ERROR = 0;

    private const int ERROR_ACCESS_DENIED = 5;
    private const int ERROR_ALREADY_ASSIGNED = 85;
    private const int ERROR_BAD_DEVICE = 1200;
    private const int ERROR_BAD_NET_NAME = 67;
    private const int ERROR_BAD_PROVIDER = 1204;
    private const int ERROR_CANCELLED = 1223;
    private const int ERROR_EXTENDED_ERROR = 1208;
    private const int ERROR_INVALID_ADDRESS = 487;
    private const int ERROR_INVALID_PARAMETER = 87;
    private const int ERROR_INVALID_PASSWORD = 1216;
    private const int ERROR_MORE_DATA = 234;
    private const int ERROR_NO_MORE_ITEMS = 259;
    private const int ERROR_NO_NET_OR_BAD_PATH = 1203;
    private const int ERROR_NO_NETWORK = 1222;

    private const int ERROR_BAD_PROFILE = 1206;
    private const int ERROR_CANNOT_OPEN_PROFILE = 1205;
    private const int ERROR_DEVICE_IN_USE = 2404;
    private const int ERROR_NOT_CONNECTED = 2250;
    private const int ERROR_OPEN_FILES = 2401;


    #region PInvoke Signatures

    private static extern int WNetUseConnection(
        IntPtr hwndOwner,
        NETRESOURCE lpNetResource,
        string lpPassword,
        string lpUserID,
        int dwFlags,
        string lpAccessName,
        string lpBufferSize,
        string lpResult

    private static extern int WNetCancelConnection2(
        string lpName,
        int dwFlags,
        bool fForce

    private class NETRESOURCE
        public int dwScope = 0;
        public int dwType = 0;
        public int dwDisplayType = 0;
        public int dwUsage = 0;
        public string lpLocalName = "";
        public string lpRemoteName = "";
        public string lpComment = "";
        public string lpProvider = "";


    /// <summary>
    /// Creates a NetworkShareAccesser for the given computer name. The user will be promted to enter credentials
    /// </summary>
    /// <param name="remoteComputerName"></param>
    /// <returns></returns>
    public static NetworkShareAccesser Access(string remoteComputerName)
        return new NetworkShareAccesser(remoteComputerName);

    /// <summary>
    /// Creates a NetworkShareAccesser for the given computer name using the given domain/computer name, username and password
    /// </summary>
    /// <param name="remoteComputerName"></param>
    /// <param name="domainOrComuterName"></param>
    /// <param name="userName"></param>
    /// <param name="password"></param>
    public static NetworkShareAccesser Access(string remoteComputerName, string domainOrComuterName, string userName, string password)
        return new NetworkShareAccesser(remoteComputerName,
                                        domainOrComuterName + @"\" + userName,

    /// <summary>
    /// Creates a NetworkShareAccesser for the given computer name using the given username (format: domainOrComputername\Username) and password
    /// </summary>
    /// <param name="remoteComputerName"></param>
    /// <param name="userName"></param>
    /// <param name="password"></param>
    public static NetworkShareAccesser Access(string remoteComputerName, string userName, string password)
        return new NetworkShareAccesser(remoteComputerName, 

    private NetworkShareAccesser(string remoteComputerName)
        RemoteComputerName = remoteComputerName;               

        this.ConnectToShare(this._remoteUncName, null, null, true);

    private NetworkShareAccesser(string remoteComputerName, string userName, string password)
        RemoteComputerName = remoteComputerName;
        UserName = userName;
        Password = password;

        this.ConnectToShare(this._remoteUncName, this.UserName, this.Password, false);

    private void ConnectToShare(string remoteUnc, string username, string password, bool promptUser)
            dwType = RESOURCETYPE_DISK,
            lpRemoteName = remoteUnc

        int result;
        if (promptUser)
            result = WNetUseConnection(IntPtr.Zero, nr, "", "", CONNECT_INTERACTIVE | CONNECT_PROMPT, null, null, null);
            result = WNetUseConnection(IntPtr.Zero, nr, password, username, 0, null, null, null);

        if (result != NO_ERROR)
            throw new Win32Exception(result);

    private void DisconnectFromShare(string remoteUnc)
        int result = WNetCancelConnection2(remoteUnc, CONNECT_UPDATE_PROFILE, false);
        if (result != NO_ERROR)
            throw new Win32Exception(result);

    /// <summary>
    /// Performs application-defined tasks associated with freeing, releasing, or resetting unmanaged resources.
    /// </summary>
    /// <filterpriority>2</filterpriority>
    public void Dispose()

AFAIK, you don't need to map the UNC path to a drive letter in order to establish credentials for a server. I regularly used batch scripts like:

net use \\myserver /user:username password

:: do something with \\myserver\the\file\i\want.xml

net use /delete \\

However, any program running on the same account as your program would still be able to access everything that username:password has access to. A possible solution could be to isolate your program in its own local user account (the UNC access is local to the account that called NET USE).

Note: Using SMB accross domains is not quite a good use of the technology, IMO. If security is that important, the fact that SMB lacks encryption is a bit of a damper all by itself.

Rather than WNetUseConnection, I would recommend NetUseAdd. WNetUseConnection is a legacy function that's been superceded by WNetUseConnection2 and WNetUseConnection3, but all of those functions create a network device that's visible in Windows Explorer. NetUseAdd is the equivalent of calling net use in a DOS prompt to authenticate on a remote computer.

If you call NetUseAdd then subsequent attempts to access the directory should succeed.

While I don't know myself, I would certainly hope that #2 is incorrect...I'd like to think that Windows isn't going to AUTOMATICALLY give out my login information (least of all my password!) to any machine, let alone one that isn't part of my trust.

Regardless, have you explored the impersonation architecture? Your code is going to look similar to this:

using (System.Security.Principal.WindowsImpersonationContext context = System.Security.Principal.WindowsIdentity.Impersonate(token))
    // Do network operations here


In this case, the token variable is an IntPtr. In order to get a value for this variable, you'll have to call the unmanaged LogonUser Windows API function. A quick trip to gives us the following signature:

[System.Runtime.InteropServices.DllImport("advapi32.dll", SetLastError = true)]
public static extern bool LogonUser(
    string lpszUsername,
    string lpszDomain,
    string lpszPassword,
    int dwLogonType,
    int dwLogonProvider,
    out IntPtr phToken

Username, domain, and password should seem fairly obvious. Have a look at the various values that can be passed to dwLogonType and dwLogonProvider to determine the one that best suits your needs.

This code hasn't been tested, as I don't have a second domain here where I can verify, but this should hopefully put you on the right track.

Most SFTP servers support SCP as well which can be a lot easier to find libraries for. You could even just call an existing client from your code like pscp included with PuTTY.

If the type of file you're working with is something simple like a text or XML file, you could even go so far as to write your own client/server implementation to manipulate the file using something like .NET Remoting or web services.

I've seen option 3 implemented with JScape tools in a pretty straightforward fashion. You might give it a try. It's not free, but it does its job.

Here a minimal POC class w/ all the cruft removed

using System;
using System.ComponentModel;
using System.Runtime.InteropServices;

public class UncShareWithCredentials : IDisposable
    private string _uncShare;

    public UncShareWithCredentials(string uncShare, string userName, string password)
        var nr = new Native.NETRESOURCE
            dwType = Native.RESOURCETYPE_DISK,
            lpRemoteName = uncShare

        int result = Native.WNetUseConnection(IntPtr.Zero, nr, password, userName, 0, null, null, null);
        if (result != Native.NO_ERROR)
            throw new Win32Exception(result);
        _uncShare = uncShare;

    public void Dispose()
        if (!string.IsNullOrEmpty(_uncShare))
            Native.WNetCancelConnection2(_uncShare, Native.CONNECT_UPDATE_PROFILE, false);
            _uncShare = null;

    private class Native
        public const int RESOURCETYPE_DISK = 0x00000001;
        public const int CONNECT_UPDATE_PROFILE = 0x00000001;
        public const int NO_ERROR = 0;

        public static extern int WNetUseConnection(IntPtr hwndOwner, NETRESOURCE lpNetResource, string lpPassword, string lpUserID,
            int dwFlags, string lpAccessName, string lpBufferSize, string lpResult);

        public static extern int WNetCancelConnection2(string lpName, int dwFlags, bool fForce);

        public class NETRESOURCE
            public int dwScope;
            public int dwType;
            public int dwDisplayType;
            public int dwUsage;
            public string lpLocalName;
            public string lpRemoteName;
            public string lpComment;
            public string lpProvider;

You can directly use \\server\share\folder w/ WNetUseConnection, no need to strip it to \\server part only beforehand.

im attach my code based on brian reference

Imports System.ComponentModel

Imports System.Runtime.InteropServices

Public Class PinvokeWindowsNetworking

Const NO_ERROR As Integer = 0

Private Structure ErrorClass

    Public num As Integer

    Public message As String

    Public Sub New(ByVal num As Integer, ByVal message As String)

        Me.num = num

        Me.message = message

    End Sub

End Structure

Private Shared ERROR_LIST As ErrorClass() = New ErrorClass() {

    New ErrorClass(5, "Error: Access Denied"),

    New ErrorClass(85, "Error: Already Assigned"),

    New ErrorClass(1200, "Error: Bad Device"),

    New ErrorClass(67, "Error: Bad Net Name"),

    New ErrorClass(1204, "Error: Bad Provider"),

    New ErrorClass(1223, "Error: Cancelled"),

    New ErrorClass(1208, "Error: Extended Error"),

    New ErrorClass(487, "Error: Invalid Address"),

    New ErrorClass(87, "Error: Invalid Parameter"),

    New ErrorClass(1216, "Error: Invalid Password"),

    New ErrorClass(234, "Error: More Data"),

    New ErrorClass(259, "Error: No More Items"),

    New ErrorClass(1203, "Error: No Net Or Bad Path"),

    New ErrorClass(1222, "Error: No Network"),

    New ErrorClass(1206, "Error: Bad Profile"),

    New ErrorClass(1205, "Error: Cannot Open Profile"),

    New ErrorClass(2404, "Error: Device In Use"),

    New ErrorClass(2250, "Error: Not Connected"),

    New ErrorClass(2401, "Error: Open Files")}

Private Shared Function getErrorForNumber(ByVal errNum As Integer) As String

    For Each er As ErrorClass In ERROR_LIST

        If er.num = errNum Then Return er.message



        Throw New Win32Exception(errNum)

    Catch ex As Exception

        Return "Error: Unknown, " & errNum & " " & ex.Message

    End Try

    Return "Error: Unknown, " & errNum

End Function


Private Shared Function WNetUseConnection(ByVal hwndOwner As IntPtr, ByVal lpNetResource As NETRESOURCE, ByVal lpPassword As String, ByVal lpUserID As String, ByVal dwFlags As Integer, ByVal lpAccessName As String, ByVal lpBufferSize As String, ByVal lpResult As String) As Integer

End Function


Private Shared Function WNetCancelConnection2(ByVal lpName As String, ByVal dwFlags As Integer, ByVal fForce As Boolean) As Integer

End Function



    Public dwScope As Integer = 0

    Public dwType As Integer = 0

    Public dwDisplayType As Integer = 0

    Public dwUsage As Integer = 0

    Public lpLocalName As String = ""

    Public lpRemoteName As String = ""

    Public lpComment As String = ""

    Public lpProvider As String = ""

End Class

Public Shared Function connectToRemote(ByVal remoteUNC As String, ByVal username As String, ByVal password As String) As String

    Return connectToRemote(remoteUNC, username, password, False)

End Function

Public Shared Function connectToRemote(ByVal remoteUNC As String, ByVal username As String, ByVal password As String, ByVal promptUser As Boolean) As String


    nr.dwType = ResourceTypes.Disk

    nr.lpRemoteName = remoteUNC

    Dim ret As Integer

    If promptUser Then

        ret = WNetUseConnection(IntPtr.Zero, nr, "", "", Connects.Interactive Or Connects.Prompt, Nothing, Nothing, Nothing)


        ret = WNetUseConnection(IntPtr.Zero, nr, password, username, 0, Nothing, Nothing, Nothing)

    End If

    If ret = NO_ERROR Then Return Nothing

    Return getErrorForNumber(ret)

End Function

Public Shared Function disconnectRemote(ByVal remoteUNC As String) As String

    Dim ret As Integer = WNetCancelConnection2(remoteUNC, Connects.UpdateProfile, False)

    If ret = NO_ERROR Then Return Nothing

    Return getErrorForNumber(ret)

End Function

Enum Resources As Integer

    Connected = &H1

    GlobalNet = &H2

    Remembered = &H3

End Enum

Enum ResourceTypes As Integer

    Any = &H0

    Disk = &H1

    Print = &H2

End Enum

Enum ResourceDisplayTypes As Integer

    Generic = &H0

    Domain = &H1

    Server = &H2

    Share = &H3

    File = &H4

    Group = &H5

End Enum

Enum ResourceUsages As Integer

    Connectable = &H1

    Container = &H2

End Enum

Enum Connects As Integer

    Interactive = &H8

    Prompt = &H10

    Redirect = &H80

    UpdateProfile = &H1

    CommandLine = &H800

    CmdSaveCred = &H1000

    LocalDrive = &H100

End Enum

End Class

how to use it

Dim login = PinvokeWindowsNetworking.connectToRemote("\\ComputerName", "ComputerName\UserName", "Password")

    If IsNothing(login) Then

        'do your thing on the shared folder


    End If

I looked to MS to find the answers. The first solution assumes the user account running the application process has access to the shared folder or drive (Same domain). Make sure your DNS is resolved or try using IP address. Simply do the following:

 DirectoryInfo di = new DirectoryInfo(PATH);
 var files = di.EnumerateFiles("*.*", SearchOption.AllDirectories);

If you want across different domains .NET 2.0 with credentials follow this model:

WebRequest req = FileWebRequest.Create(new Uri(@"\\<server Name>\Dir\test.txt"));

        req.Credentials = new NetworkCredential(@"<Domain>\<User>", "<Password>");
        req.PreAuthenticate = true;

        WebResponse d = req.GetResponse();
        FileStream fs = File.Create("test.txt");

        // here you can check that the cast was successful if you want. 
        fs = d.GetResponseStream() as FileStream;

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