Tips on Windows File and Print Sharing

August 30, 2008 at 10:34 pm 3 comments

In this article, I will explain how Windows file and print sharing works and how to work around problems. The article will cover file and print sharing under a work group and not under an active directory domain. If you don’t know what active directory is, you probably don’t have an active directory domain since they are not trival to setup and maintain. You will only see active directory domains in companies. The article will cover Windows 2000 to Vista.

How the different Window editions Handle File Sharing

Different Windows edition handle networking differently. Windows XP Professional, Windows 2000, and Vista all can handle Advance File Sharing. Windows XP Home is limited to Simple File Sharing.

Windows XP Home

XP Home has a limited version of file sharing call “Simple File Sharing”. There’s a couple of points to remember about Simple File Sharing:

  1. Everyone connects to the server as the account “guest” when you attempt to connect to the shared folder or printer. This is actually the most important behavior to remember about Simple File Sharing. No matter who you are login as on the client machine, when you connect to the XP Home server, it will connect you as guest.
  2. For a shared folder, you can either set the field as read-only or read-write for everyone.
  3. You can hide your share name by ending it with $. Users will be able to connect to that share, but they will not be able to see it. Note that this is not foolproof, there are utilities that allow you to see the hidden shares. Note that $ also works in Advance File Sharing, which we will go into later.

Because everyone connects to the server as guest, you need to make sure that the guest account has no password. If there is a password, users will be prompted for a user name and password when they connect and they will have to enter the guest and the guest’s password. If you disabled the guest account, no one can connect to your machine.

XP Home has no provision for any other form of file and print sharing.

    Windows XP Pro and 2000

    Both windows XP professional and Windows 2000 have advance file and print sharing. The major differences from simple file sharing is the following:

    1. When you connect to the server, your username and password is passed to the server. If the username and password match an account on the server, you will be connected to the server as that user.
    2. You have finer control over permission. For each folder and printer you share, you can specify who can access the folder or printer, and what rights they have over it.

    One thing you must do for advance file sharing is that your user account and password must match across the different machines. The reason for this is security, since you don’t want people being able to get access to resources on your server without knowing the password.

    Even if you give permission to the “everyone” group, you will still be unable to get access to that server resource unless you have a user name and password that match one on the server.

    If your user name and password do not match, you can still get access by playing around with explorer to allow you to connect to the resource as a different user. Note that this is possible but is cumbersome and is not automatic.

    Note that by default, XP Pro has simple file sharing turned on so that it behaves like XP Home. To turn it off, you can go into explorer, select Tool->Folder Option and check or uncheck the option for Simple File Sharing. This mean you can use simple file sharing or advance file sharing in XP. Windows 2000 is limited to advance file sharing only.


    Vista does not have simple file sharing. Vista file and printer sharing works pretty much like advance file sharing. However, there are options to turn off password protection so that you can simulate simple file sharing.

    Guidelines for setting up File and Print Sharing

    Guidelines for Simple File Sharing

    • Make sure that guest account is not disable and do not have a password. If the guest account is disable or have a password, Simple File sharing will not work properly.
    • If you do not want users logging in as guest on XP, go into control panel->user accounts and check the option to disable the guest account. Note that when you disable the user account in control panel user account, it actually just prevents you from logging in, it does not actually disable the account.
    • Your policy should be set such that guest can only login locally. Because guest do not have a password, you want to prevent people from logging into the machine as guest.
    • Keep in mind that everyone can see any directory that you share. Do not put anything in share that you do not want the public to read.
    • Limit write permission only to directory where if users won’t be able to do any damage. Keep in mind that if you set a folder to writable, it will be writable to everyone. Do not ever share the root of your drive to be writable for obvious reasons.

    Guideline for Advance File Sharing

    • Set up your network so that all of the machine on the network has the same work group, user name, and password.
    • You may disable the guest account, since it is not used in Advance File Sharing.

    Solutions to some of the problems you may encountered

    I don’t even have an option to share a folder or printer

    You may need to install the file and sharing component. This will be on our Windows OS disc.

    How do I re-enable my guest account?

    If your guest account is truly disable (as oppose to be just hidden from login), simple file sharing is not going to work. To renable the account, login into the machine with a user that has admin rights. Right-click  on “My Computer”, select the user folder, get properties of the guest user account, and uncheck the disable account checkbox.

    How do I remove my guest account’s password?

    If the guest account is enabled but has a password, the user will be prompted to enter the user name and password when they connect to a server resource. However, when you attempt to remove the password using the graphica interface, it tells you that the policy doesn’t allow accounts without password.

    The easiest way to remove the guest account password is to do it from the command line.

    1. Login to the machine with an admin account.
    2. Open a command window.
    3. Type in the command:

      net user <user name> “”

      The command above change the <user name>’s password to “”.

    If I use advance file sharing, is there a way I can set up the server so that anyone can access the printer?

    No, if you want everything to be seamless. You have to go with Simple File Sharing, which allow everyone to connect as guest and live with the security limitations. If you use advance file sharing, you will need to connect to the server before you can have access to a resource, even if it is opened to everyone.

    Note that I said “seamless”. You can still manually mount the resources, but it won’t work automatically.

    If I have Simple File Sharing on, does this mean I cannot remote desktop to the server because every login is now seen as “guest”?

    No, remote desktop is not the same as file and printer  sharing. The connect as guest only occur when you attempt to link the server for file and printing (technically call SMB protocol). Remote desktop is not affected.


    Entry filed under: Windows.

    Microsoft MOSS 2007 / WSS 3.0 Deployment Issues An experence with Linksys CIT200 Skype phone on a low bandwidth DSL line

    3 Comments Add your own

    • 1. Gaspard Leon  |  September 14, 2008 at 6:10 am

      If you still can’t access the other windows machines by name, only IP address??

      Thanks again to Microsoft for not making a GUI setting for an option that causes home networking to not work correctly!!

      anyway read what this guy has to say:

      the short of it is if the setting of your DHCP NodeType is set to 2 then your home (workgroup, no DNS server) networking will never work correctly.

      You can check it by typing ipconfig /all at the command prompt and you will see:

      Windows IP Configuration

      Host Name . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . : Computername
      Primary Dns Suffix. . . . . . . . . . . . . . :
      Node Type . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . : Peer-to-peer

      If the Node Type is Peer-to-peer IT WILL NOT WORK!!!

      To reset it to Broadcast or hybrid or one of the other ones that works, you need to change 2 keys in the registry.

      Start > Run > regedit

      Find the key(s):
      HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Servic es\Netbt\Parameters

      * DhcpNodeType
      * NodeType

      These are the 2 key names if either exist, and are set to 2 then you are screwed… you can delete the keys which will set them to default of 1… or you can set them to (1 or 4 or 8) any of which should work…

      The NodeType one if existing will override the DhcpNodeType one which is set automatically upon joining certain networks (hence the problem).

      Also after changing the value you need to restart for it to take effect.

      Read the link I put to Richard Cleaver’s blog, that explains the settings in detail.

      Hope to help.

    • 2. Gaspard Leon  |  September 14, 2008 at 6:13 am

      Also here is the MS page for this issue:

    • 3. Keen'v Saltimbanque Télécharger  |  July 16, 2014 at 6:49 am

      Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though
      you relied on the video to make your point. You obviously know
      what youre talking about, why throw away your intelligence on just posting videos to your weblog
      when you could be giving us something informative to read?


    Leave a Reply

    Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

    You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

    Google+ photo

    You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

    Twitter picture

    You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

    Facebook photo

    You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


    Connecting to %s

    Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


    August 2008
    M T W T F S S
    « Jul   Sep »

    Most Recent Posts

    %d bloggers like this: