Windows Guides Feed

Now you’ve set up your home network, you can start to share files between your computers. In this guide, I’ll show you how to get your Windows XP/Vista/Machine connected to your workgroup, how to share files, and how to view shared files.

This guide is part of the Home Network Setup, Sharing, Streaming, and Backup Series. Learn more about setting up a home network, configuring file sharing and streaming, and performing network backups on the series homepage.

To get your computers seeing each other, you’ll need to do the following:

  1. Put your computers in the same workgroup.
  2. Set account passwords to enable protected sharing.
  3. Share your files.
  4. Access your shared files.

Put Your Computers in the Same Workgroup

Whether you have computers on XP or computers on Vista/7, or both, this guide section details how to get all your machines on the same workgroup, which is essential for file sharing.

Get Your Windows XP Machine(s) on the Same Workgroup

To get your XP machine on a workgroup:

1. Click Start, right click My Computer, and click Properties.


2. Under the Computer Name tab, click Change…


3. Ensure Workgroup is selected and type a name for your workgroup. i.e MSHOME (make sure you use the same name for all computers on your home network.)

4. Click OK and reboot your computer.

5. Repeat the process for all Windows XP PCs in your home.

Get Your Windows Vista/7 Machine(s) on the Same Workgroup

To get your Windows Vista or 7 machine on a workgroup:

1. Click Start, right click Computer, and click Properties.

2. Under Computer name, domain, and workgroup settings, click Change settings.

3. Under the Computer Name tab, click Change…

4. Ensure Workgroup is selected and type a name for your workgroup. i.e MSHOME (make sure you use the same name for all computers on your home network.)

5. Click OK and reboot your computer.

6. Repeat the process for all Windows Vista/7 PCs in your home.

Set Account Passwords to Enable Protected Sharing

If you want to share files across your network, you’ll need an account password set up. If you already have an account password (i.e. you use a password to log in to Windows when it first starts up), you can skip this step.

Set Account Password in Windows XP

To set an account password in Windows XP:

1. Click the Start button and click your account picture.

2. Click the Cancel button.

3. Click Create a password.

4. Type a password, confirm the password, type a hint, and click Create Password.

5. Click Yes, Make Private.

Set Account Password in Windows Vista/7

To set an account password in Windows Vista/7:

1. Click the Start button and click your account picture.

2. Click Create a password for your account.

3. Type a password, confirm the password, type a hint, and click Create Password.

Share Your Files

The next step in the process is to decide which files and folders you would like to share. Personally, I don’t like to use the default Public or Shared folders because I don’t like to move files around just to have them shared. I’d rather share my files from their original location. This section will show you how to share individual folders (the same method can be applied for sharing individual files (although I don’t recommend sharing on a file by file basis.)

Share Your Files in XP

To share your files in XP:

1. Right click and folder and click Sharing and Security…

2. Under the Sharing tab, click Share this folder on the network, give the share a name, and click OK. If you would like to allow file changes (i.e. updates, deletes) from other computers, check Allow network users to change my files.

3. Your folder should now have a special overlay icon (a hand under the file.)

Share Your Files in Vista/7

To share your files in Vista/7:

1. Right click and folder and click Share with > Specific people…

2. In the sharing box, type Everyone and click Add.

3. A confirmation dialogue will show you sharing information on the file or folder you set to share.

Access Your Shared Files

Now you’ve shared your files, you’ll want to access them from different machines. In this final step, I’ll show you two methods for accessing your shared files:

  1. Through My Network Places (XP) or Network (Vista/7.)
  2. Through Computer via a Mapped Network Drive (XP/Vista/7.)

My network places is a good place to view all shared items, by computer; a mapped network drive is a good way to add a permanent link to a specific shared folder or drive, which can be accessed via a drive letter (good for networked backups, streaming media shares etc.)

Access Your Shared Files in XP (Method 1: My Network Places)

To access shared files through My Network Places:

1. Click Start and click My Network Places. If you do not have My Network Places on your Start menu, follow steps 2-5. If you see My Network Places, skip to step 6.

2. To add My Network Places to your Start menu, right click the Start button and click Properties.

3. Under the Start Menu tab, click Customize…

4. Under the Advanced tab, scroll down (under Start menu items) and check My Network Places. Click OK.


5. Click Start and click My Network Places.

6. Browse shared files and folders, by computer, from this interface.

Access Your Shared Files in XP (Method 2: Mapped Network Drives)

If you would like a more permanent access point to a shared directory or drive, you should use a mapped network drive. To set up a mapped network drive in XP:

1. Open My Computer, click Tools, and click Map Network Drive…

2. Select a drive letter (i.e. Z.) For the folder, add the computer name you are trying to connect to (follow the section titled Put Your Computers in the Same Workgroup to find your computer name) and then the share as \\COMPUTERNAME\Share

i.e.

\\mintylaptop\mintyfolder

Check Reconnect at logon if you would like the mapped network drive to be accessible next time you restart your machine.

Click Finish.

3. Now, from My Computer, you will see your mapped network drive. Double click on it to view the files.

Access Your Shared Files in Vista/7 (Method 1: Network)

To access shared files through Network:

1. Click Start and click Network. If you do not have Network on your Start menu, follow steps 2-5. If you see Network, skip to step 6.

2. Right click the Start button, and click Properties.

3. Under the Start Menu tab, click Customize…

4. Scroll down and check Network.

5. Click Start and click Network.

6. Double click a computer name on your network.

7. Browse all the shared files on the computer.

Access Your Shared Files in Vista/7 (Method 2: Mapped Network Drives)

If you would like a more permanent access point to a shared directory or drive, you should use a mapped network drive. To set up a mapped network drive in Vista/7:

1. Open Computer and click Map Network Drive.

2. Select a drive letter (i.e. Z.) For the folder, add the computer name you are trying to connect to (follow the section titled Put Your Computers in the Same Workgroup to find your computer name) and then the share as \\COMPUTERNAME\Share

i.e.

\\mintylaptop\mintyfolder

Check Reconnect at logon if you would like the mapped network drive to be accessible next time you restart your machine.

Click Finish.

3. Now, from Computer, you will see your mapped network drive. Double click on it to view the files.

You’re Done

Now you’re set up with the following:

  1. Your computers are on the same workgroup.
  2. You’ve shared your files and folders.
  3. You have access to your files and folders from your other computers.

Return to the series to find what to do next.



About Rich

Rich is the owner and creator of Windows Guides; he spends his time breaking things on his PC so he can write how-to guides to fix the problems he creates.

Free PC tips by email

Search Windows Guides




Comments

  • Tanner Rogers777

    Does this use bandwidth?

    • http://richr.org/ Rich

      Only home network bandwidth. Your ISPs bandwidth cap (if you have one) is not affected/reached through home networking–thankfully!


Computer tips in your inbox
Sign up for the Windows Guides newsletter to get PC tips and access to free Windows books (More details)

Enter your email address:
 

Popular Guides

See which sites have been visited on your PC (even if private browsing mode is used)

Create a Windows 7 System Repair Disc

Best Free Anti-malware

Hibernate vs. Sleep vs. Shut-Down

i3, i5, and i7; Dual, Quad, Hexa Core Processors. How to they Differ?

Intel's Ivy Bridge Processor: new Features

Submit Your Tip
Submit your computer tip to us; receive full credit for all published tips

Windows Guides on Facebook