A+ Certification / Beginners

Enabling File and Printer Sharing in Windows 2000/XP/2003

Now that you understand the two levels of access control, you are ready to allow your Windows machines to share resources on the network. First, you must ensure that File and Printer Sharing Services are installed and that File and Printer Sharing is enabled, and then you can start sharing folders and printers.

All NT-based products, such as Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows XP, and Windows Server 2003, have File and Printer Sharing enabled by default. To verify that File and Printer Sharing is enabled within these operating systems, perform the following steps:

  1. If you're using Windows 2000, choose Start → Settings → Control Panel → Network and Dial Up Connections. If you're using Windows XP/Server 2003, choose Start → Control Panel → Network and Internet Connections → Network Connections.
  2. Right-click your local area connection and choose Properties.
  3. Click the check box beside File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks to enable it and click OK.
    When this check box is selected, File and Printer Sharing is enabled, and you're finished. If File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks wasn't listed, you need to install it first, so keep reading.
  4. If File and Printer Sharing isn't listed, click the Install button to install the service.
  5. Choose Service in the Component Type dialog box and then choose File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks. Then click OK to close all the dialog boxes.

Creating shared folders

When a user on the network wishes to access a file on another system, he must connect to a share on that system. Shares are a way to publish the folder on your system out to other users on the network so that they can access the files in that folder. If you have not shared any resources, then there is no reason for anyone to want to connect to your computer - it would be like giving someone the key to a locked but empty room.

Know that you can only share folders or printers; you cannot actually share a file specifically. To allow users to access a file from across the network, you have to place the file in a folder and then share that folder.

Sharing a folder in Windows 2000

To share a folder on a Windows 2000 network, simply right-click the folder you wish to share and choose the Sharing command. In the Sharing dialog box that appears, select the Share This Folder option to share the folder. Within the Sharing dialog box, you will need to set a number of options. The options are listed below:

  • Share name: You need to give the share a name. This is the name that will be referred to by users who want to connect to the share.
  • Comment: This is an optional description of the share that displays in Windows when the user views the list of shares in Detail view.
  • User limit: You may limit how many users can connect to the share at any given time. This could be useful if you notice that the system is slow after a certain number of users connect. For example, if you're sharing a CD-ROM, you may notice that access to the CD-ROM slows after six users connect. In this example, you may want to set the user limit to five. Setting the user limit to maximum allowed will configure the user limit for 10 users connected to the share at once because the Windows desktop operating systems can only allow 10 connections at a time.
  • Permissions: Clicking the Permissions button allows you to set permissions on the share. You set permissions to control which users can modify data in the share and which ones can simply read information in the share.
  • Caching: This feature allows the client to store a local copy of data accessed in the share. This could be useful if you wish to allow a laptop user to take a copy of the data home and update the data. The modified data could then be synchronized with the content on the server when the user returns to the office.

As mentioned earlier, when sharing a folder, you need to set the share permissions. To set the share permissions, click the Permissions button. The default permissions in Windows 2000 are Everyone and Full Control.

This means that any user can create, delete, and modify files in the share or modify the share permissions. These default permissions are not good! The following steps show you how to adjust these permissions to your liking:

  1. To remove the Everyone group from the permissions list, click the Remove button.
  2. Add specific users to the permissions list by clicking the Add button. The Select Users or Groups dialog box appears.
  3. Select which user or group is allowed to connect to the share by selecting the user.
    You may add multiple users by clicking on the first user and then holding down the CTRL key and clicking on additional users.
  4. Click Add to return to the Permissions dialog box.
  5. To set a user's permissions, select one of the following permissions for that user:
    There are three different permissions that you can assign to a user when dealing with shares:
    • Full Control: The Full Control permission allows a user to read and change the contents of files on the share, to delete files on the share, and to change the share permissions. This permission is not normally assigned to users.
    • Change: The Change permission allows a user to read the contents of files in the share, change the contents of files that exist in the share, and delete files. Users cannot change permissions on the share with the Change permission.
    • Read: The Read permission allows a user or group to read but not modify the content in the shared folder.
  6. Click OK and then click OK again to exit the dialog boxes.
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