Tech Talk

Permanent link to Sharing Stuff on a Home Network Sharing Stuff on a Home Network

Tuesday, March 18, 2008
A friend recently asked for some help on getting three computers on a home network to talk to each other. Here are some things you should do for starters to make it work at all, and easier when it does:

  1. Make sure you don’t have any accounts with blank passwords. Often the computers will helpfully authenticate with such an account, but then won’t be able to access anything because of the lack of a password
  2. The biggest help is to create identical accounts on all three computers. You need to do this only for the user(s) that need(s) to access the other computers. Having identical usernames/passwords will make this work much better.
  3. Allow File/Print sharing in each computer’s firewall. If you’re using Windows’ firewall (which is fine), you’ll find it in some Advanced setting tab, and have to make sure it’s allowing File/Print sharing. If you’re using other software, it’ll be in there somewhere.
  4. Disable “simple” file sharing. When it doesn’t work, it’s impossible to get right. Open Windows Explorer, and choose Tools > Folder Options > View tab, scroll down to the bottom and don’t use Simple File Sharing. Windows XP Home edition does not allow you to disable this, so hopefully it will just work. I’m not sure how the flavors of Vista vary, but the setting is in the same place (in Vista, you can press the Alt key and the usual menus will appear).
  5. Create a share. If you want to get to anything on the hard drive, create it at the root of the drive. There is a default share called c$ on the main Windows drive (if it’s c), which user accounts that are members of the Administrator group can access (by typing it in, not by browsing – see below). Make sure your account has permission to read/change stuff (as you want) for the share, which is controlled separately from the regular drive permissions.
The workgroup and domain names, surprisingly enough, have very little to do with any of this working. You’ll see those names when you browse the network, but I don’t recommend going that route. Sometimes it’ll work, and sometimes it won’t. The most reliable way to get to another computer is to type \\computername in the address bar of windows explorer. That will open the computer (if it can), and show any shared folders & stuff available.

These are some general steps I usually take, and from there it’s a matter of following my instincts to get problems worked out. I hope it works for you!


LaRocque Family