Linking PCs with a Network : Connecting to and Sharing Files with Other PCs on Your Network, Sharing a Printer on the Network

10/16/2012 3:11:15 AM

Connecting to and Sharing Files with Other PCs on Your Network

Even after you've set up your network, Vista still might not let you see your connected PCs or their files. That's right: Yet another security measure prevents PCs from seeing each other or sharing files on your private network. Here's how to knock some sense into Vista's security:

  1. Click the Start menu and choose Network.

    When it's working right, you should see icons for all your connected PCs here. To connect to a PC and see its shared files, just double‐click its name.

    But the first time you set up a network, Vista's Network window comes up blank. A banner across the window's top warns, “Network discovery and file sharing are turned off. Network computers and devices are not visible. Click to change.”

  2. Click the window's warning banner or click the Network and Sharing Center button.

    Clicking either one fetches the Network and Sharing Center, as shown in Figure 1 .

    Figure 1: Open the Network and Sharing Center to change settings that let you find other PCs on your network.

  3. Change the following areas in the Network and Sharing Center.

    To turn an area on or off, click the little downward‐pointing arrow, shown with the mouse pointer pointing at it in Figure 17-1 . When the panel drops down, click to turn the feature on or off.

    • Network Discovery: Turn this on. This allows people on other PCs to see your PC on the network.

    • File Sharing: Turn this on. This lets people access files or printers you've chosen to share with them.

    • Public Folder Sharing: Turn this on. You want to share your Public folder, as it's the common place where everybody places files they want to share with others. Choose Turn on Sharing so Anyone with Network Access Can Open, Change, and Create Files.

      To let other people open your Public folder's files but not change them or place their own files there, choose Turn on Sharing so Anyone with Network Access Can Open Files instead.

    • Printer Sharing: Turn this on if you've attached a printer to your PC. That lets other PCs print to it.

    • Password Protected Sharing: Turn this off. If it's turned on, only people with user accounts on your own PC can access your Public folder and other shared items.

    • Media Sharing: Turn this on. That makes your songs, photos, and videos accessible to anybody else on your network.

  4. Place files and folders you want to share with others into your PC's Public folder.

    The Public folder lives one click away in every Vista folder: It's listed in the folder's left column.

If your PC still can't see other PCs, or those PCs can't see your PC or its files, check out the following tips:

  • Turn off all the PCs, the router, and your broadband modem. Then turn on your broadband modem, your router, and your PCs — in that order, waiting 30 seconds between each one.

  • Retrace your steps, making sure to turn on Public Folder Sharing and turn off Password Protected Sharing.

  • Make sure that all your PCs have the same workgroup name.

Deleting files from a networked PC

Normally, anything you delete on your PC ends up in your Recycle Bin, giving you a last chance at retrieval. That's not true when you're working on a file in a networked PC's Public folder. When you delete a folder on another PC's Public folder, it's gone for good — it doesn't hop into the Recycle Bin of your PC or the networked PC. Beware.

Sharing a Printer on the Network

Many households or offices have several computers but only one printer. To let everybody on the network print on that printer, share it by following these steps on the Vista computer connected to the printer:

  1. Click the Start menu, choose Network, and click the Network and Sharing Center button along the top.

    The Network and Sharing Center window appears .

  2. Turn on Printer Sharing and click Apply.

    Look in the Printer Sharing category and click the Off button to reveal the menu. When the menu drops down, choose Turn on Printer Sharing and click Apply to share that printer with the network.

Now, tell your other networked PC (or PCs) about your newly shared printer by following these steps:

  1. Click the Start menu, choose Control Panel, and select Printer from the Hardware and Sound category.

    The Printers window lists icons for any installed printers. (Ignore the Microsoft XPS Document Writer, as it's not a real printer.)

  2. Click the Add a Printer button.

    The Add Printer window appears.

  3. Choose Add a Network, Wireless, or Bluetooth Printer and click Next.

    Your PC glances around the network for the other PCs' shared printer. When it finds it, click its name and click Next to install it. If it doesn't find it, move to Step 4.

  4. Choose The Printer That I Want Isn't Listed, and then click Browse to go to the shared printer.

    Clicking the Browse button fetches a list of your networked PCs. Double‐click the PC with the attached printer, and Vista lists the printer's name.

  5. Double‐click the shared printer's icon and click Next.

    Vista finally connects to your networked printer. You might also need to install the printer's software on your PC before it can print to the networked printer.

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