A few quick tips if you find yourself having to access a network drive from Apache and Tomcat on a Windows Server. This is all pretty much old hat but since I still get questions about this fairly regularly and was just setting up some things on some servers this weekend, I figured I'd write this up.
In my situation we're running an application on three VMs behind a load balancer, and users can upload files from the application. Since I didn't want to set up a process behind the scenes that copied uploaded files between all three servers (though it would have given me a chance to take another run at using Unison), we have an uploads directory living on a SAN. This way no matter which VM the user is on, the uploads all go to and are served from a single file system.
On Windows Server, by default services run under the Local System Account, which doesn't have access to network resources. So if you install Apache and Tomcat as services and expect to be able to point them to a UNC path for some of your content, that won't work out of the box. You need to be running Apache and Tomcat under an account that has network access. In most environments in which I've worked this type of account is typically called a "service account," because you'll end up getting a domain account just like your typical Active Directory user account, but of course it won't be associated with a human being.
Once you have that account in place, you go into your services panel, right click on the service, click on "Properties," and then click the "Log On" tab. You'll see by default the Local System Account radio button will be checked. Click the radio button next to "This Account," enter your service account information, click "OK," and then restart the service. At this point your service will be running under the service account and will have access to network resources. Note that you'll have to do this for each service that needs access to the network drive, which in my case meant doing this for both Apache and Tomcat.
That takes care of the web server and things at the Tomcat level in terms of basic access, but you'll likely be configuring an alias of some sort to point to the network drive. In my case I wanted /uploads to point to \serversharenameuploads, which meant setting up an alias in Apache, a Context in Tomcat, and a mapping in OpenBD. This is where a lot of people get confused, so I'll go through each of these settings one by one.
The necessity for a web server alias is probably pretty obvious. If you're serving an image directly from your web server, e.g. http://server/uploads/image.gif, if /uploads doesn't exist under your virtual host's docroot, then Apache will throw a 404.
Allowing Apache to access the network drive involves (depending on how you have Apache configured) using a Directory directive to give Apache permission to access the directory, and then an Alias directive so Apache knows where to go when someone requests something under /uploads. So the following goes in your virtual host configuration file:
Allow from all
Alias /uploads "\serversharenameuploads"
You may have other stuff in your Directory directive as well but that's the basics of what will allow Apache to see /uploads as the appropriate location on your SAN.
The next layer down will be your CFML engine. Remember that if in your CFML code you want to read or write files to /uploads, even though Apache knows what that is now, your CFML engine will not. I'm emphasizing that point because it's such a common source of confusion for people. If things are happening in your CFML code, it won't be interacting with Apache at all, so it won't know about the Alias you set up in Apache. Simple enough to solve with a mapping; just go into your CFML engine's admin console and create a mapping that points /uploads to \serversharenameuploads and that handles things at the CFML level.
Lastly comes Tomcat. Depending on how you're serving files, you may be proxying from Apache to Tomcat, so if Tomcat needs to know where /uploads lives, since it's not in the webapp's base directory Tomcat will throw a 404 unless you tell it where /uploads is located.
Tomcat doesn't have Aliases in the same way Apache does, but what you can do in Tomcat is configure multiple Contexts under a single host. So in Tomcat's server.xml (or in a separate host config file if you prefer), you simply add a Context that points /uploads to the network location:
<Context path="" docBase="C:/location/of/my/app" />
<Context path="/uploads" docBase="\serversharenameuploads" />
So now you have things set up in such a way that Apache, your CFML engine, and Tomcat all know where /uploads really lives.
Another point of confusion for people on Windows is the concept of "mapped drive" letters. A lot of people think that if you map \serversharename to a drive letter of let's say D:, than in your code you can then access the uploads directory we've been using as our example via D:uploads.
The simplest way to explain why this doesn't work is to point out that mapped drive letters are associated with a Windows user account. They don't exist at the operating system level. While you may remote into the server using your credentials, map to a network location, and assign that to drive letter D:, another user logging in won't see that mapping, and services running on the server under various user accounts definitely won't know anything about mapped drives.
This is why in all the examples above you see the full UNC path to the network resource being used. You have to use the UNC path in order to get this all to work correctly because that's the only way services running under a service account will be able to address the network resource.
Hope this helps eliminate some of the persistent confusion I see around this issue.