Can community/official folder sit on a network drive ? and could 2 installs share the data?

I’ve searched about and not seen it mentioned / talked about much.

I have 2 PC’s at the house, which both have MSFS installed on them under the same xbox pass username. The base installs are in the normal Appdata location, and the data folders are seperate on folders of my choice. One machine is a very basic spec and only has a 256Gb SSD, but my son just manages to run MSFS on it. I also have a server in the house that runs a NAS and CCTV.

Only 1 ever runs MSFS at any one time, which is fine … but it means double downloads of data for installs, updates etc, although I have successfully downloaded an update on 1 machine, and copied the folders over to the second machine, that still means double downloads of cache data as well if the machines fly over the same location.


Is it possible (or has anyone tried) to have the official / community data folders located on a network drive instead of a local drive ?

AND, if so, could the 2 PC’s both have their data folder location pointing to that network drive folder ?

I appreciate the speed of a network drive versus an SSD … but it would free up a heck of a lot of space on the smaller machine I have.

Anyone know if it would work ?

(For anyone coming here from a search engine)
Yes - it does … as detailed below

So, a short initial update … It doesn’t seem to like having the data on a network drive. I tried:

  • mapped an empty HDD on the server as a network drive to Y: within windows. To access, I have to specify a different logon user/pwd but windows seems to remember that fine, and all other applications can see,read,write to it from within their file dialogs etc.
  • copied all the official/community data into a Y:\MSFSDATA folder
  • renamed the existing data folder so that MSFS would come looking for a new location/download on startup.

When MSFS started up and asked for a folder, it would not let me select the Y: drive folders. It reported that it needed a folder which it had read/write permission for. This seems strange, because its there as a mapped drive that other windows programs can happily access for read and write.

Makes me wonder via what ID that MSFS is trying to access the drive with. I have in my mind that MSFS creates its own virtual machine to run … I wonder if that creates a new user ID which I haven’t set permissions for …

ah well, worth a try.

After moving the folder and before starting MSFS, try repointing the data path in the config file in UserCfg.opt file. It’s at the bottom of the file.

I can’t imagine this wouldn’t work. I would, however, expect issues if two installs tried to run at the same time. If the app locks any of the files, the second instance would encounter access errors.

I’ll give that a try and see how it goes.

As for running at the same time, agreed, I think they would clash over files … but xbox game pass tends to intervene prior to that point as it seems to recognise when the user account is running elsewhere and moans about it. I’m not needing to have them running at the same time, just an interesting exercise in messing about. Another benefit would be able to specify a much larger cache.

It worked ! Flawlessly ! (I have used the usercfg.opt change to move files before, but though it would be easier with the method I used first time )

MSFS started and immediately started drawing the data from the server. No doubt that the loading time was longer than before … but not by that much. In fact I would still say that it was a lot shorter load time than I expected and better than some of the earlier versions of the game.

I have a 1Gb network, and it didn’t seem to completely saturate the network for the whole load time. It would draw at high speed for short periods, then take as much time or longer to process it … suggesting to me that the overall load time is not limited to just data read speeds. Once up and running, the network traffic was minimal.

So, next step will be to see if the second machine can see the same folder and run just as well.

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Well, another follow up.

Mapped the same drive onto the second machine and pointed the userCfg file at the same folder, and it also worked first time flawlessly as well. Again, slightly slower loading times, but nothing that isn’t unacceptable. Once in game, its not noticable for my messing about and playing, same with my son’s PC.

So, I’ve now saved load on space on the boys small 256Gb SSD, whilst retaining the full flight sim running.

So, this thread might be useful for anyone else wondering, as I looked and couldn’t find it tried elsewhere.

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Regarding this section (which is almost the only reason against simply copying the data once every time an update is released):
You probably mean the rolling cache here? That I certainly wouldn’t put on a network drive since it’s constantly written and read and might have direct impact on performance.
With a small file you won’t have much benefit anyway, except if you always fly the same short route.

Maybe an idea: Buy an external SSD and connect it to the PC you want to play MSFS on. It could host all the data except for the base executable and you have much better latency than most NAS have. For loading times the latency might be more important than the throughput.
Also I imagine it’s easier to make it work with MSFS than your NAS approach :slight_smile:

Have you tried using

And pointing that to the network drive?

Oh I saw you got a solution already which is great.

I don’t think you can use AddonLinker to manage the “Official” folder of MSFS, that would break its purpose.
But this is the task this thread is about.

So another little update… both machines have been able to read from the network folder in terms of data and its worked really really well, but when it comes to updating or adding packages, neither seem to be able to complete the operation. Just can’t seem to get it complete the operation. It would download (upto 3 times) but when it came to unpacking/installing, it would fail, time after time.

So, i’ve had to give it up for the moment … which is a pity, but in terms of speed, I can’t say I had any issues with it.

Not sure you still need help, but within windows you can create a symbolic link for any folder to a network drive, so you could create a symlink for “official” folders pointing at a network location, the sim wouldn’t know any difference as its still referencing c: drive but windows is doing the sneaky behind the scenes.

Thanks, I might try that later down the line.

Thanks for posting about this topic. I am struggling with space on my PC (256GB), but I have a 3TB server and would love to be able to do what you have done. I’m fairly good with stuff like this but worried that I will mess it up. Do you have a step by step by any chance?