Windows 7 : Sharing Resources on a Network - Turn on Sharing and Discovery

10/12/2012 9:02:51 PM
Before you start sharing resources on your network, you need to make sure you configure Windows 7 to enable it to share and access shared resources. By default, Windows does not make network resources available to everyone. Instead, Windows 7 requires users to explicitly share resources before others can access them.

A first step on each computer is to make sure sharing and discovery is enabled, and all computers belong to the same workgroup. You need administrative privileges to makes these kinds of changes, so log in to an account that has those privileges before you get started. Then get to the Network and Sharing Center using either of these methods:

  • Click the Start button and choose Control Panel => Network and Internet => Network and Sharing Center.

  • Press , type net, and click Network and Sharing Center.

The center opens as in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Network and Sharing Center.

If you see any messages about connecting to your network for the first time and questions about the network type, choose Home Network. Your local network is a private network. The Internet is a public network.

If you see Unidentified Network or Public Network where the figure shows a Home Network, click the link under View Your Active Networks. Change the setting to Home Network as in Figure 2.

Figure 2. Select the network location type.

Designating the network as a home network makes it discoverable to other computers within the same private network. However, it's important that all computers belong to the same workgroup, particularly if you are going to use workgroup sharing rather than a homegroup. So on each computer you also want to make sure Network Discovery is turned on and all computers have the same workgroup name.

In the Network and Sharing Center, click Change Advanced Sharing Settings in the left pane to open the Advanced Sharing Settings dialog box (Figure 3). In the dialog box, turn on Network Discovery and File And Printer Sharing under the Home or Work profile. If you want to use the Public folders, also choose the option to turn on Public Folder Sharing. If you want to enable people to access shared resources without a user account, choose the option Turn Off Password Protected Sharing. Otherwise, turn on this option. Finally, if you are using a homegroup, you can specify that Windows manages the homegroup connections automatically, or choose to use user accounts and passwords in the homegroup. Leave this option at the default of Allow Windows to Manage Homegroup Connections.

If yours is a small network and you won't be using a domain for sharing, make sure all computers are in the same workgroup. On a Windows 7 or Windows Vista computer, click the Start menu, right-click Computer, and choose Properties. In the resulting System dialog box, click Advanced System Settings in the left pane, then click the Computer Name tab (Figure 4). On a Windows XP computer, click the Start menu, right-click My Computer, and choose Properties to open the System Properties dialog box.

Figure 3. Advanced Sharing Settings dialog box.

The Computer Name tab shows the current computer name, description, and workgroup name. If the workgroup isn't what you need it to be, click the Change button. In the resulting Computer Name/Domain Changes dialog box, click the Workgroup option and type the required workgroup name in the Workgroup text box. Then, click OK. Click OK again to close the System Properties dialog box.

When you've turned on all the Sharing and Discovery options and set the workgroup name, you're ready to move to the next computer in the network and repeat the process. Once all of the computers have sharing and discovery enabled and belong to the same workgroup, they'll be able to find each others' shared resources. But it's still up to each user to decide what they want to share. The sections that follow look at techniques for sharing resources.

Figure 4. The Computer Name tab of the System Properties dialog box.

New Feature

Homegroups simplify setting up a home network and sharing resources on the network.
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