Home networks and file sharing

In preparation for a job where I am going to add some file sharing to a home network, I decided to do a bit of research and finally tidy up my own network of PCs, so that they can see each others files when they are on.

The job for the client should be fairly easy, as both machines are Windows 7, and she is not a very sophisticated user, so most stuff will be in the standard folders etc. Win 7 provides a facility called Home Group, which makes things reasonably straightforward.

However, in more complicated setups, such as my own network where my media centre PC is windows 7, and the other 3 or 4 are all XP, or where a user has multiple partitions and wants to share a whole drive rather than just the standard ‘documents’ ‘pictures’ etc, it gets a bit harder.

A couple of things to start with. Make sure all PCs are in the same workgroup. Somehow I had got three workgroup names on the go, not a good start. Secondly, make sure all PC names are unique within the network.

On the XP side, things are quite straightforward, right click on the drive, folder or file you want to share, tick the right boxes, and after a couple of dire warnings if you are sharing the root of the drive, and possibly a lot of permissions updating, everything you have selected is shared.

On the Win 7 side, it can get a little complicated. Sharing folders and files is reasonable easy, get into the sharing menu, right click folder, click ‘Share with’, and select ‘specific people’. On that dialog, choose everyone from the drop down, click add and apply.

If you want to share the root of a drive (in this case the whole of the D: drive), you firstly have to make ‘everyone’ owner of the drive. Do this in the security tab, edit the settings, and add a new user ‘everyone’, and give them the relevant permissions. Then go through the share with instructions to set up the share. As I have little information on my C: drive, I didn’t share the root of that.

So I now have all relevant files on all PCs shared.


Dave Glover is a director of Signs of Success Ltd. married to Lynn (the other director of SOS) with 3 grown up kids. We live in Whitby, in New Zealand. After 30+ years in IT as everything from Trainee Programmer to Project Manager, Dave now runs a Computer Maintenance and Sign Making shop near his home.

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