Can someone explain how it is possible to open a library in windows explorer. As an example how can the library below get accessed using the unc path as well as the http? Its my understanding that all documents are held in the content databases for the site collection

Path:\\intranet\sites\demo\Shared Documents

The specific technology is built into SharePoint and IIS and is called WebDAV which is designed to allow web servers to translate file IO style requests into requests for content in the underlying system. It can actually do a great deal more but that is the most common use of it.

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Click on Library to activate the Library Ribbon Menu then click on Open with Explorer. All documents are stored in the SP db.

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