The Expert’s Guide To Windows Networking (Part 4)

12/20/2012 9:27:40 AM

1.    Guest account

First make sure your shared system has a Guest account create and active. Select 'Control Panel' > ‘User accounts' > 'Add or remove user accounts’. The Guest account is shown here and it'll be active or off. You'll need to activate this before going any further.

1. Guest account

2.    Guest access

Right-click the 'Notification Network' icon to check the basic sharing settings, select 'Open Network and Sharing Center'. Click the 'Change advanced sharing' settings. Public sharing can be left off but make sure 'Turn off password protected sharing' is selected.

2. Guest access

3.    Add guests

Let's guest share a folder. Create, for example, a Public folder, right-click this and select 'Share' > 'Specific people...'This is the Homegroup extended interface so you can choose 'Everyone' and click 'Add'. The Guest option would work just as well too.

3. Add guests

4.    Adjust read/write

When a user is added this way you're able to adjust the level of access via the Permission Level column. Click the arrow next to the 'Read' option and select 'Read/Write' to enable Guest users to copy files into and out of the public folder.

4. Adjust read/write

5.    And share

With the Read-only or Read/write setting done, click ‘Share' and the folder is made available to everyone on the local network. The final window displays the Network path to the folder and offers a couple of basic ways to send this to other people.

6.    Limited options

Using the built-in Homegroup controls does make sharing easier but the flip side is that it offers less control over how the shared folder is created. So if the folder already resides inside a share, it's not possible to create a separate listed shared folder this way.

6. Limited options

Advanced sharing

1.    Check your user

Before we create a user account, we need to check the remote user account name so they match. The easiest way is on that system open the Start Menu and see the name in the top right of the menu, or check the User list in the Management Console.

2.    User access

Armed with the correct User name, open the Computer Management Console, go to 'Users^ right-click a blank area and select 'New User...’ Add this name to the User name and choose a password. Click 'Create' to add this new user to the system.

2. User access

3.    Complex sharing

Create a folder on your drive. Right-click this, select 'Properties' > 'Sharing tab' > 'Advanced Sharing..' and click the 'Share this folder' box. You're able to give this the name that appears within the Network folder and limit the maximum connected users.

3. Complex sharing

4.    Users and Groups

Click 'Permission' and remove 'Everyone', as we don't want that. The next bit is stupid: click 'Add' > 'Object Types.. ’ Deselect 'Built in security principles' and click 'OK'. Go to’ Advanced' > 'Find Now'. A list of all the available Users and Groups will appear.

5.    Adjust Permissions

Select as many users or groups as you want to have access to this share and click 'OK' > 'OK'. You can now adjust the read/write/ delete permissions for the folder per user.

We never quite understood why Deny exists, but perhaps it's to torment people?

5. Adjust Permissions

6.    Security issues

Click 'OK' followed by 'OK' and the folder is now shared with the displayed path within the Network folder. The last thing to note here is the Security tab. This can seem confusing as it appears to duplicate permissions. It does, however, deal with local access rather than network shares.

6. Security issues

7.    Computer Management

Right-click 'Computer' in the Start Menu and select 'Manage! Browse to 'Shared Folders' > 'Shares' and double-click the share you created and click the 'Share Permissions' tab. This will list the Groups and Users you added previously.

8.    Closing sessions

Select the Sessions' and 'Open Files' sections and you'll see lists of the currently connected and active registered users or guests. Right-click a session and you can choose to close it down. Under Open Files, 'spools' are printer jobs queued for printing.

9.    Remote connecting

All that's left to do is remotely log in from your newly registered system. You may need to log them off and back on again if you've changed password or other details but otherwise it's a case of entering the user name and password you selected.

9. Remote connecting

Remote desktop

If you've gone to the trouble of setting up remote User accounts then it's not much more of a step to enable people with remote-control of a PC via the Windows Remote Desktop RDP system. As it turns out under Groups is a Remote Desktop Users entry. By default the main User account will have this access already, but you can add any other users to this group to provide them Remote Desktop access. To do this via the Computer Management Console select 'Add >'Advanced'>'Find' and select the User.

You'll also need to enable Remote Desktop access to the system. The easiest way to do this is right-click the 'Computer 'shortcut, select 'Properties,' click 'Advanced system settings' > 'Remote' tab and make sure 'Allow connections' is on. If you're connecting from Windows XP or non-Windows devices you'll need to select the middle 'any version' option.

Trouble shooting? I'm the fire stopper

Networking and problems seem to go hand in hand. If it's not an old router that needs resetting then it's some crazy setting you've failed to tick that's blocking a port. A major issue with Windows file sharing is that so many of the options are spread over so many different dialog boxes and different areas of Windows. If you find you're having issues connecting to a remote PC or getting access to a share then let's go through the areas that can cause an issue.

It's always worth checking the physical aspects. During writing this we couldn't access the server, because it had powered down. Similarly check routers, connections and, if you can, connect to the internet for general network function. Usually the PC's name should show up in the Network folder almost instantly.

If the physical side is good but the PC's name isn't showing up in the Network folder you'll find that a fairly basic issue is the problem. Check the 'Advanced sharing' settings within Network and Sharing Center, and network discovery and file sharing are both on. If they are you may also want to check that File and Print Sharing are enabled in your firewall. The Windows Firewall can seem crazily complex, but check the Private profile and (SMB-ln/ Out) is enabled.

If you're sure everything is connected, functioning correctly, basic settings are set and Firewalls have the right ports open, let's delve into the common issues for refusing a share. The most common annoyance is Windows firing up a dialog stating access cannot be established, with an option to diagnose the problem. This can happen in a number of circumstances and the usual issue depends on how you're accessing the remote share.

The first scenario is someone just trying to connect to a PC as a guest. The big two reasons for this are that either the Guest User account hasn't been created or is disabled. The other is that'Turn on password protected sharing' is selected, so only registered users can connect. Alongside these, if you're using Public folders check this option and make sure Homegroup connections is correctly selected.

The second is if a registered user cannot access a system this will likely be the account names not matching correctly or the account being disabled on the remote system. Similarly, if a registered user can't access a share but can get on the system then it's most likely their account has been added to the permission list.

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