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Windows File Sharing

Windows File Sharing allows you to give other users on our local network access to files on your computer from their remote computers. This process must be approached cautiously, because opening up shares on your computer can create security issues.

Specifically, opening up a file share creates the potential for unauthorized users to access their systems and files. Therefore, confidential documents and information should NOT be shared through file sharing. Passwords must be used for all shares.

It should be noted that while the process for Windows 95, 98, and ME systems is considerably easier to setup, it is also considerably less secure due to those versions' lack of security. Windows XP is the preferred OS to share from, although it will take some additional steps to properly share the files.

Windows 95, 98, ME Systems

Note: Make sure that File Sharing is installed on the system (this feature was not originally enabled by default)... Right Click on Network Neighborhood (My Network Places on ME), and choose Properties. You should see File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks listed. If it is listed, click Cancel and continue to Step 1.

If it is not, click the File and Printer Sharing button, and enable both checkboxes and click OK, click OK again, and insert your Windows CD if needed. Restart the computer.

  • Right click on the Folder that contains the files the user wants to share, and choose Sharing.
  • Click on Share this Folder, and give the share a ONE-WORD name that is LESS than 11 characters long. (This is important, because Windows 95, 98, and ME cannot access long-name shares)

    Optionally, you may append a $ to the end of the name (i.e. Sharename$) if you wish to hide the share from others. Note: If you do this, all users involved must know the full path to the share (i.e. \\computername\sharename$)
  • Choose whether users will have Full Access, Read-Only Access, or (Preferred) Depends on Password.
  • If the 3rd option is chosen, assign a password that is easy for all authorized users to remember but hard for unauthorized users to guess.
  • Click OK.
  • On the remote systems, create a new shortcut to the pathname (i.e. \\computername\sharename) When prompted, enter the password and if desirable “Save” the password.

Windows 2000 and XP Systems

Note: Windows XP systems need to take an additional step to prepare for this process. From Windows Explorer (right click on My Computer and choose Explore), click the Tools menu, and choose Folder Options. Click the View tab, and in the list of options, find and disable the option at the bottom of the list that says, “Use Simple File Sharing (Recommended)”. This option must be disabled or this process will not work properly.

Creating the Authorized User Accounts on the Local Computer

  1. The first step is to create a list of users who will need access to the share. You will need to know their email usernames (i.e. joem, billg, etc).
  2. Next, right click on My Computer and choose Manage. On the Left-hand menu, under “System Tools” click on “Local Users and Groups” and then choose Users folder.
  3. On the Right-hand side, you will see a list of existing users. On a “white space” area of the screen, right click and choose New User. Create the new users by filling in the information on the Wizard.
  4. The user name is the first part of their email address (joem, billg, etc). The password should be at least 6 characters with letters and numbers. Disable the option for “User must change password at next logon”, and Enable the option for “Password Never Expires”.
  5. When finished adding all the users, click Close, and then close the Computer Management program.
  6. Note: Although it is NOT recommended, if you are less concerned about security and would like to share the folder with everyone, enable the Guest account (right click and choose properties, then uncheck the box "Account is Disabled", then click OK), and set a password (right click on the user and click "Reset Password").

Creating the Share and Establishing Security

  1. Right click on the Folder that contains the files the user wants to share, and choose Sharing and Security.
  2. Click on Share this Folder, and give the share a ONE-WORD name that is LESS than 11 characters long. (This is important if some of the remote users have Windows 95, 98, and ME which cannot access long-name shares)

    Optionally, you may append a $ to the end of the name (i.e. Sharename$) if you wish to hide the share from others. Note: If you do this, all users involved must know the full path to the share (i.e. \\computername\sharename$)
  3. Note: Do NOT use the Permissions button on the Sharing tab to establish primary security, or your share will NOT work! Please DO, however, click on Permissions and verify that “Everyone” is given “Full Control”. This might sound undesirable, but it is necessary. Click OK.
  4. Click on the Security tab. You will see a list of who has “official” access to the folder. The following users should ALWAYS be given FULL ACCESS... “Administrators”, “SYSTEM”, and the owner of the computer (i.e. jimbob). Click Add Users... and in the screen that appears, type the additional usernames separated by semi-colons (;) (i.e. joem; billg; etc). Click OK.

    Note: There may be additional users and groups listed than the ones mentioned here. Usually, they are not a problem, however, in some cases they may cause conflicts. You may choose to remove the extras using the "Advanced" button and unchecking the box "Inherit from parent...." When prompted, choose to Remove the items, but make sure that the above mentioned items are still listed properly.
  5. Assign Permissions for each user in the list as desired. Do NOT assign Full Access to other users... only assign Modify if they need to be able to write to the share. [Click Advanced... choose the option to “Reset Permissions on Child Objects...” and choose OK (This step only needs to be done on initial setup)]. Click OK on the main security page, and you are done.

    Note: If you wish to allow ALL created user accounts (including Guest, if you enabled it) access, you can ADD... "Everyone" to the list. DO NOT GIVE "EVERYONE" *FULL ACCESS* !!! If you do, a malicious user or hacker could take over your files!
  6. On the remote systems, create a new shortcut to the pathname (i.e. \\computername\sharename). When prompted, enter the password and if desirable “Save” the password.
  7. NOTE: By default, Windows XP limits the number of connections to the share at any point in time. Windows XP Home Edition limits connection count to 5 users and does NOT offer a means of overriding this limitation. However, Windows XP Professional limits connections to 10 users but can be overridden in Computer Management.
    -- Right Click on My Computer and choose Manage.
    -- Choose Shared Folders and then choose Shares.
    -- Right Click on your new share and choose properties.
    -- Click "Allow this number of connections" and then specify a number between 1 and 99.