Sharing in the Home Office

I have discussed how to set up a network running Windows XP Home Edition. This edition of Windows XP that makes networking a breeze for anybody, whether you’re a newbie or a hardcore enthusiast. But I haven't discussed networking for people like me who run their business from home.

If that best describes you, consider graduating from Windows XP Home Edition to Windows XP Professional. It costs a little more than the home edition, but why shouldn’t you have all the benefits that it gives big business? Windows XP Professional helps you compete because it’s built for business. That’s precisely the reason that I use it (that and because I like bigger and better toys).

To set up a workgroup network (a network without dedicated servers) running Windows XP Professional, you follow the same steps as when you set up a network running the home edition. So I’m going to focus on my experiences using the Windows XP Professional network features in my home business. Take what I’ve learned and apply it to your own home office so you can get the most out of your new Windows operating system. I’ll start with the document sharing features.

Sharing 101

Windows XP Professional supports two types of file sharing: simple and advanced. Simple file sharing works just like it does in Windows XP Home Edition. You have only two choices to make:

- Whether you share a folder on the network

   - Whether users can change files in the shared folder

If you choose to deny users permission to change files, Windows XP Professional gives everyone Read access to the share. Otherwise, the operating system gives everyone Full Control of the share.

To Share a Folder Using Simple File Sharing

1.               Create the folder you want to share. I like to create shared folders either in My Documents or on the desktop to keep them from hiding.

2.               Right–click the folder and then click Sharing and Security. The Sharing tab of the Properties dialog box for the folder opens, as shown in Figure 1.

3.               Click the Share this folder on the network check box. This makes the folder visible on the network.

4.               Click the Allow network users to change my files check box if you want network users, including yourself, to be able to modify your stuff on the network.

Columns Properties dialog box

If the option to share the folder isn’t available, look at the bottom of the Sharing tab. Does it say that remote connections to this computer are disabled until you run the Network Setup Wizard? I had already run the wizard, but if you haven’t, you must do so before you can share the folder.

Get Advanced

Simple file sharing is suitable for a family–oriented network or when your needs are straightforward. However, a home business won’t get away with simple file sharing for long, particularly one with multiple users that requires secure documents.

In my case, I use my network for a mix of business and pleasure. I allow friends to use my network when they are visiting. And I have temporary employees whose access I want to restrict to certain parts of my network. That’s why I switched to advanced file sharing and recommend that you do too, if your business shares these requirements.

To Turn on Advanced File Sharing

1.               In Windows Explorer, click Tools, then click Folder Options.

2.               On the View tab, in the Advanced Settings area, click to clear the Use Simple File Sharing (Recommended) check box.

Sharing 301

Turning on advanced file sharing changes the Sharing tab so that it looks like the one in Figure 2. Now, rather than just sharing a folder, you have complete control over how Windows XP Professional shares the folder on the network and who can access it. Attila the Hun would be proud of advanced file sharing.

Columns Properties dialog box

I often customize each share’s permissions. For example, I created a share that contains the document and figures for this column. I wanted remote access to them so that I could edit on another computer, but I didn’t want other users to be able to see them. This requires advanced file sharing. So, I turned on advanced file sharing, shared the folder containing the files, and set the permissions so that I had full control and other users didn’t have access. Mission accomplished.

You might not need advanced file sharing, though. If all you want to do is share files so that everyone on the network has remote access to them, just stick with simple file sharing. It’s easier. So how do you choose? Well, you know that you need advanced file sharing, if:

- You want to have remote access to files, but don’t want other remote users such as children or employees to have access to them.

- You want to specify different levels of access for users of the shared files.

To Share a Folder Using Advanced File Sharing

1.   Right–click the folder you want to share, and then click Sharing and Security. What you’ll see is the advanced Sharing tab in Figure 2.

2.   Click to select the Share This Folder check box.

3.   In the Share Name box, enter the name of the share the way you want it to look on the network. I usually leave the share name the same as the folder name, but you might want to use a more descriptive name.

4.   Click Permissions, and then edit the list of users who have access to the share. You can give each user or group full control of the share, permit them to change, or just read files.

Easy Access

In my column about document sharing, I showed you how to access your shares in My Network Places. This works the same in Windows XP Professional as it does in the home edition. To see your shared files in My Network Places, you have to navigate through five folders: Entire Network, Microsoft Windows Network, Workgroup, Computer, and Folder.

Because that’s a lot of clicking for files you access often, here’s a more convenient way to access your shared files. Create a shortcut to the shared folder and put it in the My Network Places folder. Then, you see the shared folder immediately under My Network Places. You only click one folder now—big improvement! To create the shortcut, just drag the folder from the computer containing it to the My Network Places folder.

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Copyright © 2002 Øyvind Haugland
Sist endret:  25 mars 2017

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