How to: Configure Path Labels


Path Labels are a feature of NSS that allow the creation of an organization-close analysis of file service usage. Instead of displaying UNC paths with growth statistics and usage numbers, organizations can create analyses that show growth by region, department or project - or historical usage by country, cost center or manager, etc.

A number of Knowledge Base articles are available that provide information on this topic. It is important to be aware of each:

  • Usage: Configure Path Labels (this article)
  • Reference: Path Label Examples [KB-3141]
  • Reference: Path Label Functions [KB-3140]

This article provides a detailed introduction to Path Labels; describing both how they can be used to facilitate more efficient data management and how they are practically configured. This article should be read before beginning to explore this feature. Knowledge Base articles KB-3141 and KB-3140 will prove valuable when beginning to configure and use Path Labels in your environment.

Introduction to Path Labels

The ability to assign Path Labels is a feature introduced in the web interface of NSS to provide data managers and users with a richer and more understandable analysis of the paths they are responsible for and/or contribute to. Path Labels take the path names and utilize simple text labels, Active Directory querying, string manipulation, and regular expressions to change the display of path names.

Path Labels can be used simply to change cryptic 'file system close' path names into something more familiar for business users, or, and more powerfully, to group paths that share specific properties - providing new levels of insight into file service usage.

There are no limitations on the number of Path Labels that can be applied to a Path Category and (when properly written) a Path Label can be concurrently applied to multiple path categories. Also there are no limitations on the number of labels that can be applied to a single path.

Path Categories and Path Labels

Path Categories are another feature of NSS and offer a means to categorize paths at a high-level. These should not be confused with Path Labels - the two features should work together.

Path Categories are used to group paths according to their intended usage on a technical level. 'Home Shares', 'Group Shares' and 'Projects' are all good examples of Path Categories.

Path Labels are used to tag paths with organization-specific information. For example, using Path Labels that integrate with Active Directory, an IT Coordinator within a business unit can view growth in all Home Shares (a Path Category) grouped by department (a Path Label), or a Senior Project Manager can view data age in Project Shares (a Path Category) grouped according to project owner (a Path Label).

The diagram below illustrates how Path Labels work together with Path Categories. In this example Path Labels are being used to retrieve the user name and the department membership from Active Directory for each user share.


Path Labels


  1. Access the Administration Page in NSS Console and select Path Labels in the top menu. Click on the Button 'Add Label' located on the right side of the screen.

    Add Path Label
  2. In the Path Label Configuration dialogue specify your Path Label name, your Path Label query and the Path Category, or categories, that the Path Label should be applied to.
    Path Label Configuration - Empty

    In the example below, we will convert the path for all User Shares into a string that contains the user name for each user and the department that the user belongs to.

    • Label name: Specify the name of your Path Label, in this example we will use 'User | Department'.

    • Value: Specify your Path Label query here. In this example we use the function ad.getuserprop to retrieve the information that we're looking for. This function retrieves AD-properties for the users in question.

      Syntax: ad.getuserprop(property, searchDomain, filterProperty, filterValue)

      • property: Specifies which property to look for. In this example we look for the username ("name")  in first function and the department ("department") in the second function.
      • searchDomain: Specifies which domain to search in ("dq.local").
      • filterProperty: Specifies the AD-property to match the result with ("sAMAccountName")
      • filterValue: Specifies the value to match the result with.
        • In this case we look at the value path.lastdir(), which means that we look at name of the very last part/directory of the scanned path - the Home Share folder name.

          Given the filesystem structure and how the Data Scan is configured in this example, the Home Share folder name matches the sAMAccountName for each user. This allows us to retrieve the real name and the department name for each user.
      See the section 'Path Label functions' for a Path Label reference table and 'Path label examples' for template queries.

    • IsExpression: Defines whether data in the Value field is an expression or not. If the box is checked it means that it should run as an expression, otherwise it will just be plain text. Make sure that the box is checked if you're making advanced queries such as the one in this example.

    • Path Category: Specify the Path Category or categories that this specific Path Label should apply to. All paths within the selected category/categories will be affected. In the example below, the category User Shares is selected. This means that all paths categorized as User Shares will processed by this Path Label query.

    Path Label Example:

    Path Label Configuration

    When your Path Label is ready to be tested, click on the 'Test'-button at the bottom right corner. 

  3. The label test allows you to test your Path Label query before applying it. Any errors or mistakes will be discovered here and displayed in the 'Result' column. If you've made a mistake, simply click on the 'Back'-button at the bottom right corner and correct your query. If the path conversion was successful (as in the screenshot below), click OK to apply the Path Label and save the changes.

    Note: In the screenshot below, the user names are displayed within brackets. This can be achieved by adding "[" + before the first expression and +"]" after it. We have chosen not to display this slight alteration in the previous screenshot in order to make it more understandable.
    Path Labels Test
  4. A status bar will be shown. The processing time will vary depending on the numbers of path affected by the query and its complexity.

    Status Bar

  5. The Path Label results are now ready to be used and displayed in the NSS Console Widgets. See KB-XXXX for more information on how to configure Widgets.

    Example of how Home Share information can be displayed using NSS Console Widgets:

    Path Label Result

Recieving Assistance

It is hoped that the information available in this and other referenced Knowledge Base articles is sufficient to allow customers to understand and begin using this powerful feature of NSS. As you begin to explore the capabilities that this feature can unlock, and dive into the functions that are available, you will likely want to get some expert help.

Please direct all questions to the Technical Support team at Northern ( We look forward to assisting you.


  • KB3141 What is/are: Path Label Examples
  • KB3140 What is/are: Path Label Functions
  • KB3118 How to: Create Path Categories
  • KB3119 How to: Configure Data Scans
  • KB Article: 3116

    Updated: 12/12/2016

    • Category
      • Usage
    • Affected versions
      • NSS 9.6
      • NSS 9.7
      • NSS 9.8

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