The (nearly) simple guide to network file and printer sharing
I have noticed that many users are posting on the forum with problems setting up wireless and wired network sharing. With your wired or wireless network set-up working you can use it to share the Internet and also share your files and printers over the network. This guide has been written with the support of DrAwesome on cable forum.
This guide is primarily for users of windows xp home or pro that are using a wired or wireless router, although much of the information here will be useful in other set-ups its not the aim of the guide to take the user over these steps.
The first thing I will say is KISS ( keep it simple stupid). Always start at the beginning. Its pointless trying to set up printer sharing ect if you cant even ping between the computers on your network.
Router setup and wiring.
We have a guide on the forum that covers wireless network setup here - /board/19/8269-broadband-sharing-a-step-step-guide.html
This guide needs to be followed first in order to set up the router. Once this has been followed and you can access the internet on all your PCs you are nearly done. The next steps can be a little confusing at first so it's a good idea to write down what you are doing as you do it.
Testing the setup and some things to watch.
The first step to take is to uninstall any personal firewalls from your PCs as these can cause problems with file and print sharing. Your router will have at least a nat and sometimes an spi firewall installed so your are relatively safe behind the router. I personally recommend that install a application level firewall like zone alarm or kerio personal firewall after you have finished going through this guide, The firewall needs to be set to low security ( in the case of zone alarm ) as this will give you application level control. Its important to know what is going out of your pc as well as what is coming in. If you are running a wireless network PLEASE make sure that you secure it by reading this - /board/38/8435-secure-your-wireless-network.html
as there is even more danger of data theft when file and print sharing are enabled. Make sure your antivirus software is working and up to date and that you have scanned the system for any spyware.
The next step ( after you have removed any firewall software ) is to test the connection between the PCs using the ping command. Your router will usually give each machine on the network an address automatically using something called dhcp. First you need to get yourself a command prompt, to do this click on start and then click on run. Type "cmd
" into the box and press the enter key. A black box will appear on your desktop. You will see a flashing cursor in the box. At the cursor type "ipconfig
" and then press enter. You will see a few lines of information. The first of these lines is your ip address, make a note of this. Now repeat the above on all your computers. The result should be a list of all the ip addresses on the network. Go back to the first pc and at the cursor in the box type "ping
" then press the space bar. Enter the ip address of another computer on the network. This address will be something line "192.168.1.3". Some routers use different addresses but the above is the most common. You should see a reply from the computer that you are pinging. Now repeat this test from each pc. Make sure you ping all the PCs on the network. Once you have done this and all the PCs reply you are ready to get started with the file sharing.
File and printer sharing setup.
First, Lets lay down the ground rules for file and print sharing. For file and print sharing to work the rules bellow must be followed.
- All the PCs must be on the same subnet and use the same ip address range. For example your router may be 192.168.1.1 so the first pc will normally be 192.168.1.2 If you could ping all the computers when you did the test above then you will have no problems.
- All the computers need to be on same workgroup. On windows xp the default workgroup is "MSHOME" You can change this if you want to but make sure that all the PCs are on the same workgroup.
- All the computers need to have different computer names. The computer name is not the same as the computer description. The computer description can be anything you like. To check the computer name and workgroup right click on my computer and select properties. Click on the network identification tab and then click the button marked properties. There you will see the computer name and the workgroup.
- File and printer sharing must be bound to your network adaptor. To check this right click on "my network places" and select properties. You will see all the network adaptors in your system listed. Find the one that you are using to connect to your network and then right click on it. Select properties. There should be three items ticked on the list. "Client for Microsoft Networks", "File and printer sharing for Microsoft networks" and "Internet protocol tcp/ip". There may be some more entries in this list. If you are unsure as to what they are please post for assistance.
Once you have checked the above your pc should be ready to share your files and printers. I will cover sharing files and folders first. If you use the xp wizard to set-up the network you will find that it has shared a folder called "shared documents" I personally find that the best practice is to unshared this folder and create a new folder on your desktop or the root of your c drive. I usually call this folder transfer. Right click on the folder and select sharing. Choose a share name for the folder. There are two options you can tick for the share. The first is "share this folder" and is somewhat of an obvious requirement. The second option allows users to change the files. Leave this ticked unless you don't want other users to have access to the files. When you have shared the folder correctly a little hand will appear under the folder. This procedure can be applied to any folder on your pc. Some users share their documents folder so that they can access them from any workstation. Once you have shared the folder go to another pc on the network and click on "my network places" click on "show workgroup computers" and you should see the name of the computer you made the share on along with all the other PCs on the network. Double click on the computer name and you should then see the share. Double click on the folder and you will be able to see the contents ( if any ). If you cant see the computers or folders then it may be that the network has not refreshed it's self. If you have been tweaking the settings then it's a good idea to shut down all the computers on the network and then restart them one at a time. If you still cant see the computers then read the guide above and make sure that everything is correctly set-up. If you sill have problems post on the forum for assistance.
Now for sharing printers: This is far more straight forward than file sharing. If you for example had a printer on pc 1 then sharing it over the network is dead easy. Go into your printers folder and right click on the printer you want to share. Select sharing from the list and give the printer a name, for example "Epson in living room". When you have shared the printer a small hand will appear under it. Go to another pc on the network and click on my network places as you did above. Double click on the computer that the printer is connected to. If this is the first time you have accessed the printer then windows will need to download the drivers from the host computer. This can take a few minutes to copy over. When you double click on the new printer the system will ask you if you want to install the printer on the local machine. You can also use the add new printer wizard to connect. On the wizard select network printer. Leave the dot on "browse network" and click next. Select the PC that the printer is connected to. The system will ask if you want to install the printer, Click "yes" so windows can copy the files over.
Mapping a network drive.
Once you have created the shares on your computers you can make it easier to find the shares by mapping a network drive. This will give you another letter in my computer. In this example we are going to map to a folder called "transfer" on a computer called "fred". Click on my network places and then "show workgroup computers". You should see a computer called "fred", double click on it and look for the folder called "transfer". Right click on the "transfer folder" you will see an option marked "map network drive" click on this. The wizard will then ask you what drive letter you want. You can choose any free drive letter. When you have done this you will find that a new drive letter has appeared in my computer. You can then save you files to the drive letter, for example "Z" drive, and they will be saved onto the transfer folder on the computer called "fred"
If you want to set up file and printer sharing while using one pc as a router then
Read this thread - /board/19/6648-internet-connection-sharing-for-windows-xp.html
It gives detailed instructions on how to set-up ICS.
I hope you find the above helpful in setting up file and printer sharing. If you need help please read the guide again and then post and someone will be happy to help you out.