Tuesday, August 19, 2014

How to create a shared folder in Windows XP

If your computer is connected to a network, even a small home network, a shared folder is useful for several different things.  You can scan images or documents to it from a scanner, you can share files with other computers, and you can make resources available for other users on your network.  Sharing some folders is also useful for doing backups, if you perform them manually or do them from another computer.

Creating a shared folder on a Windows computer is typically easy to do, and the steps are similar throughout most Windows operating systems.  This article will guide you through the necessary steps for creating a shared folder in Windows XP.

First, you'll have to figure out where you want to put the folder.  Avoid putting it on the desktop if possible, both because Windows can be finicky with desktop folders, and because it helps to avoid clutter.  A good place for your shared folder is right in the root of your C: drive.

Go to My Computer, either from the link on your desktop or the link on your Start menu.  Then navigate to the drive or directory where you want to put your folder.  (To put it in the C: drive root, double click on the C: drive.)  Right click on an area of empty space and select New, then Folder.  You'll be prompted to name your folder, and once you've done that, press <ENTER>.

Now that you've created the folder, you just have to share it.  Right click on the folder, select Properties from the menu that appears, and then select the Sharing tab in the window that opens.

Windows XP uses two kinds of sharing: "regular" file sharing and simple file sharing.  Depending on which kind of sharing your computer is configured to use, the sharing screen might look a little different, but the steps to enable it are basically the same.

If your Windows XP computer is configured for simple file sharing, you should see a screen that looks like this one:

If simple file sharing is disabled on your PC, you should see a screen that looks like the one below:

(Instead of either of the above examples, you may see a message that advises you of the risks of sharing the folder.  If you see this message, you will need to click on the option to enable sharing for this folder in order to continue, but you should read up on the risks of choosing that option first, or talk to your network administrator.)

Select the option for either "Share this folder on the network" or "Share this folder," depending on which screen you see.  You'll then be prompted to enter a share name for this folder, which is how the folder will appear on your network.  This field will automatically populate with the folder's name, but you can change it if you wish.

If your computer is using simple file sharing, check the box marked "Allow network users to change my files" (unless you only want the files in this folder to be read-only) and then skip the following two paragraphs.  Otherwise, follow the steps in the next two paragraphs to manually set up the permissions for this folder.

To configure the permissions for your share folder, click on the button toward the middle of the screen labeled Permissions.  When the Permissions window opens, you can choose to either allow everyone to modify the contents of the folder, or just a selected user.  If you choose just one user, then wherever you access this folder from (such as another computer, or a scanner) the person or device that will be accessing the folder will need to know that user's username and password.  If you choose to allow everyone permissions to change this folder's contents, then you can use any valid username and password to access the folder.

To choose everyone, simply highlight Everyone in the box at the top of the screen and then select the box under Allow, next to Full Control, then click OK.  To choose a specific user, either highlight that user in the box at the top (if their name appears there) or click Add, type their name in, and click OK to add them to the list.  Then, with that user highlighted, select the box under Allow, next to Full Control, and then click OK.

Now your folder is created and shared, and can be accessed from other parts of your network.  One important thing to remember when sharing a folder on a Windows network is that the other computers or devices should all be in the same workgroup as the sharing computer, or at least have access to the same workgroup.

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