Windows Vista Annoyance #3: File / folder sharing between computers on a network

April 2, 2007

(See also my other Vista Annoyance posts – turning off User Account Control, turning on Flip and Flip / Window Switcher, turning off Windows Security Alerts, getting an older program to work with Vista, and turning on Windows Aero.)

I always tell my daughters to share nicely. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t — it’s always quite a struggle. But computers — I expect them to share nicely without a struggle if I tell them to. With the new Vista operating system, however, it was quite a struggle.

See, my family and I have three home computers.  Under the old Windows XP system, it wasn’t too difficult to get these computers to share. But now I’ve got Vista on two computers and still have XP on another two. And hoo-boy, a lot of steps are involved to get the Vista-equipped computers to share files and folders. Nearly all of it is listed in a somewhat helpful Technet page by Microsoft, some of which I shamelessly plagarize below — including photos.

Here’s how. (This post assumes that your computers are already connected to a network — i.e., they’re all already able to browse the Internet using the same router.)

  1. Open the Network and Sharing Center window by clicking on the Windows orb in the lower left corner, and then either right-clicking on Network and selecting “Properties”, or opening the Control Panel and double-clicking “Network and Sharing Center.” See picture below (click it for a larger version).
  2. If your network type is “Public,” you need to change it to “Private”:
    1. To the right of the network name and location type, click Customize.
    2. In the Set Network Location dialog box, click Private, and then click Next.
    3. In the Successfully set network settings dialog box, click Close.
  3. Under “Sharing and Discovery” in the bottom half of the Network and Sharing Center window, you need to turn all the settings from “Off” to “On” by clicking on the down arrow next to each setting, clicking on “Turn on …”, and clicking on “Apply.” But see some pointers below:
    1. For the “Password protected sharing” setting: you may want to leave this “On” or turn “Off” at your discretion. (I turned mine off.)
    2. For the “Public folder sharing” setting:
      1. If you want to share the public folder so that other computers on the network can access the Public share to open files, but not create or change files, click Turn on sharing so anyone with network access can open files. This is the default setting.
      2. But if you want to share the public folder so that other computers on the network can access the Public share to open files and also create or change files, click Turn on sharing so anyone with network access can open, change, and create files.
  4. You’re done with the Network and Sharing Center window. Close it via the “X” button.
  5. Click the Windows orb at the lower left corner of your computer, and click on Computer.
  6. In the Computer window, navigate to the folder containing the file(s) or folder(s) that you want to share — e.g., “Pictures” or “Documents” or a specific file or folder within. Note: don’t open the folder itself that you want to share — just navigate to the folder that contains this folder.
  7. Right-click the folder that you want to share, and then click Share. The File Sharing window is displayed. (Click picture for a larger version.)
  8. If you have password protected sharing enabled: Use the File Sharing window to select which users can access the shared folder and their permission level. To allow all users, select Everyone in the list of users. By default, the permission level for a selected user is Reader. Users cannot change files or create new files in the share. To allow a user to change files or folders or create new files or folders, select Co-owner as the permission level.
  9. If you have password protected sharing disabled (like I do): Click the drop-down arrow inside the blank field in the File Sharing window, and select the Guest or Everyone account. Click “Add.” Then for that new account, click on the down arrow under “Permission Level” to change it to Co-owner (if you want anybody to read and modify files) or leave it at “Reader” (if you want other computers to just read but not modify your files). NOTE: this is where I got stuck before!
  10. Click “Share”, then “Done.”
  11. Ta-da! You should now be able to view the contents of this folder from any other computer in the network!

CRITICAL NOTE: If you selected “Everyone” when sharing a folder, you’re also making its contents available to any computer that joins this network. Many households, including mine, have wireless Internet via a wifi router. If you don’t have WEP encryption turned on, then I could just drive up and park on the street near your home, open my laptop, let it join your network via your wifi, and then nose around through your files. It’s particularly important that you have WEP encryption turned on for your wifi network. I plan to do a blog post about this soon.


122 Responses to “Windows Vista Annoyance #3: File / folder sharing between computers on a network”

  1. JGJones Says:

    Why not give something like Ubuntu a try. It’s free, it does the fancy 3D effect better and on lesser hardware, they ship the CD’s to you for free, it’s more secure etc, and more important doesn’t have DRM inbuilt.

    Worthwhile learning about Linux (it’s not Windows, so try to approach with an open mind and not expect it to do what Windows do) –

    Finally – WEP encryption? Latest news now say it can be cracked within a few minutes – I’ll suggest you make use of WPA or better WPA2 where available and not WEP!!

    • Joe G Says:

      Ubuntu and Linux in general are still lacking too much for the average user and must be edited each time for each individual thus lacks in uniformity

  2. Paul Says:

    Great post, really helpful!

  3. GS059 Says:

    Kind of sucks because I already got this far without help, but for some reason, if you try to share files between vista and xp it is extremely easy, but if you try to go from vista to vista, it does not let me share files beyond reader even though I have it set to co-owner…

  4. Luiz Says:

    Thank you!!!! It worked…

  5. SpeedGeek Says:

    Not very helpful, You don’t really say what you do when you have NO users, NO passwords, NOTHING.

    That’s my network. there are no passwords on any of the computers but I just CAN’T connect! It’s so frustrating!

  6. proudgeek Says:

    SpeedGeek — That’s why step #9 above is SO important (and in fact that was the one I had the most difficulty with). It’s for when you have no password and no users. Hope that helps.

  7. Lynn Says:

    thank you so much for this tutorial, I wouldn’t have been able to do it without you!!

  8. Nathan Says:

    Regardless of what anyone above has said – I can’t thank you enough for writing this article. I was completely screwed over by my new Vista’s annoying Fort Knox-style security and couldn’t for the life of me share over my network.

    Thank you very much, I hope many others find interest in this article.

  9. proudgeek Says:

    Thanks, Nathan! Just curious — I’m seeing a large number of visitors just for this post — where did you “come from?” Did you find this via a search engine, or is there a link from another site (or sites)?

  10. 4G63 Says:

    I did all of this last night, but there’s one point I am missing:

    The files are shared, but yet my two computers can’t “see” each other.

    For example, after following all of the steps as outlined above, and sharing the desired folder(s) Vista gives you a dialog box showing the path name of what you have shared eg: //VistaPC/myphotos
    When I enter that path onto my XP based laptop, it can’t access it.

    Is there some kind of firewall setting that needs to be configured to allow the computers to see each other?

  11. Edith Says:

    Thank you so much for the information. I was so frustrated to not be able to get the file sharing to work. By just following you directions it worked in a couple of minutes.
    Thanks again. The only problem I still have is that I can’t access the files of XP computer on the Windows Vista Computer. I can see the XP computer of the network but it won’t access. Any comments.
    Thanks very much.

  12. Linda Says:

    My problem is almost the opposite of Edith’s. I can see the Vista computer from all 3 XP computers but cannot access it. On the Vista, I can access all others computers in the house fine. HELP!

    I did all these steps before finding this site and am still searching for what is going wrong.

  13. proudgeek Says:

    Hello Edith and Linda — let me look into these and get back to you. Hang in there, and sorry about that!

  14. proudgeek Says:

    And 4G63, let me look into these as well. Sorry about the delays!

  15. Stanburn Says:

    I have been fighting this for 2 days now. I did get a little farther with your instructions. The step about adding everyone is much clearer in your instructions than the Microsoft article.

    However I still can’t see the folder from the other computer. The second computer is running Windows 2000 and I can see the shared Vista computer, but can’t access the shared folder. When I email the link from the Vista computer to the Windows 2000 machine and click on it it tells me the network path is not found.

    I will go very slowly back through your instructions again tonight and see what happens.


  16. Phillip Cracks Says:

    A greate help. much easier to follow than Microsoft help.
    Tell them about Link-Layer topology mapper & responder.

  17. Dave Says:

    Thank you for this. It solved my problem of accessing my Vista folder from Windows XP – step 9 was my stumbling block. I hadn’t realised I had to click the “Add” button as well as selecting it from the drop down list. A bit dumb of me, I know.

    One thing I did find was that I still couldn’t see the folder I had shared on Vista by default, but if I entered the network address, it opened it fine. I just then mapped the drive as a network drive and was away.

    BTW, Google was my link to your post.

  18. OfficialDom Says:

    Great article and very user friendly

    I wish I had found this article before painfully inching my way through half a dozen other snippets gleaned from my google searches. I have done everything in this article, plus downloaded the LLTD patch for my XP machines from the microsoft website. (This enables me to see the whole network in the network map on my vista laptop). BUT…. now I can see my vista laptop under network>workgroup on my XP machine, it tells me that my vista laptop is not accessible and that I may not have permission!! Also I cannot see any other computer from my Vista laptop under network. Is there anything else I should have done?

    Thanks Dom

  19. Sam Says:

    Sorry, but this doesn’t help me with my Windows ME desktop. My new notebook is Vista and I have a wireless router connection. The internet sharing is working fine. I just spent about 5 hours on the phone with Microsoft trying to get file and printer sharing to work. No dice. The ME can ping the Vista but the Vista can’t ping the ME. Microsoft blames ME. I blame Vista.


  20. sh4rp and snork Says:

    Thank you! veryi nformative tutorial, I was fully pleased and sharing files instantly after struggling for almost 30 minutes.

  21. John Says:

    A local, well respected computer store recommended your article to me today. I followed all of the steps and I still have a problem. I have a laptop with Windows XP and a desktop with Vista Premium and I use a Linksys router. At first neither computer could see the other and then I loaded the LTDD patch. Now they see each other but I cannot access either one from the other.

    When I tried your Step 9 and added ‘everyone’ to the list of users I was not able to share any folders. I received the message “your folder could not be shared”. Any suggestions?

  22. John Says:

    This is John again. I identified my problem by turning off the Norton Internet Security Firewall that came with my new desktop with Vista. Now each computer can see the other. My next step is to learn how to configure the firewall so I still have protection, but can still use the network.

  23. Proud Geek Says:

    Hi John – glad you got the problem fixed! And that’s interesting, Norton is contributing to the problem. I personally don’t like Norton or McAfee – I use AVG for anti-virus and anti-spyware. It’s free and it’s pretty good. I wrote a post about that a while ago – unfortunately I’m away from the computer right now, but if you’re interested I can find it and link to it here.

  24. fantomulo Says:

    Arrg!! Can’t get this to work. I figured out how to make Norton trust my other computer, but I still can’t get either computer can see the files of the other.

  25. proudgeek Says:

    Fantomulo — be sure to pay particular attention to step #9. That seems to be the one that trips everyone up — including myself. Norton may be contributing to the problem too, ugh! Good luck.

  26. TampaRes Says:

    Hi John. Just wanted to let you know that Norton ended up being my problem also. I had looked all over the internet trying to find a solution to this problem. YOU…my man…finally gave it to me!!!! Thanks for sharing dude!!!! YES!!!!!

  27. diana Says:


  28. Mansour Says:

    The article is good . the problem is that I can see the contents or files that are on vista computer from an XP computer, but when I want to see the contents or files on an XP from the computer that has vista on it I can not and it gives me message as unable to connect to the other computer.Check the name of the computer or domain. I tried many times it did not work.

  29. Kelly Says:

    THANK YOU! I have been so frustrated ALL day with printers, pocket PCs, and software not working with Vista – it was so refreshing to find an actual clear solution to one of my problems: getting all my old files off of my Win2kPro PC to Vista. Thanks again; your info is much appreciated. Keep more like it coming!

  30. Mark Says:

    Hey, JGJones, why don’t you let him use Vista since he’s already using it?

    Stop trying to push stuff on people; they don’t like it. Considering Linux is known by even the remotely computer savvy person, I would go out on a limb to say that he already knows he can switch to Linux.

    Jesus, the Linux pushers are getting worse and worse.

  31. Andrew Says:

    Nothing genious or ground breaking here. If you can get vista to network as easily as you just said, I wouldn’t even be complaining. I don’t think I’m the only one who can’t even get the 2 computers to see eachother. Although my client computer is getting the internet from my main computer via ad-hoc.

  32. jill Says:

    Thanks for your help. It always helps to have a set of instructions to work to.. if you are at the stage that I was at, then you have tried so many things and changed so many setting that you don’t know where you are!
    I had already succeeded in getting files from XP to Vista, it was just the other way round that was causing the problems. Firstly, on vista lappy, i hadn’t selected ‘modify etc..’ in public folder sharing. Also, needed to allow everyone, and name as co-owner. However, what really clinched it was making sure ‘allow users on network’ on the XP PC was checked.
    Another point, when i first started I couldnt get either computer to see each other, and the problem was in the registry on XP, where allowanonymous had to be set to zero, as i didn’t use password. Why it wasn’t as defualt, who knows..
    What a nightmare, networking used to be so easy!

  33. Richard Says:

    I have the networks set up already. 2 XP machines and 1 Vista Ultimate machine. i can access all the shared files on both XP machines from Vista. Even though my Vista machine appears on both XP machines when scanning the network, they cannot gain access to the computer.

    An error message appears saying that access is denied and that i might not have permission to access.

    I have tried everything.
    Please help me deal with this annoying problem.

  34. Diana Says:

    Like Edith, my problem is that I have tried to set up the network so that a folder held on the XP computer can be accessed on the Vista computer. I am not trying to share files going the other way. I can neither see nor access the XP computer or shared folder.
    There is no network set up wizard included with XP and when you click the option “set up a network” itonly gives you options for dial-up and wireless! There is NO option for what most people are surely using: a broadband router with multiple ports. I’m very annoyed!

  35. Diana Says:

    Sorry – one correction to the above, I meant to write that there is no network set up wizard with the Vista. XP does have one. See what this confusion is doing tomy brain!

  36. johnny Says:

    So are you going to get back to Linda? Because i’m having the same problem. I can access my friends xp computer folders from my vista computer. But we can only see my vista computer name and can’t access any of my folders on his xp computer.

  37. tarek Says:

    if you have norton internet security in your vista laptop just add the IP of any of your XP computers in the “Trusted” in fire wall setting

  38. Tiro Says:

    I have two Vista laptops and an XP laptop, all connected via a wireless router. All can see the internet and ping each other. The Vista computers can copy files from the XP laptops shared folder. I have disabled the Windows firewall and Zonealarm. I followed the instructions above to the letter and I still cannot get the Vista laptops to copy files from the public folders between each other. The Help instructions supplied on Vista are next to useless. I know that MS have tried to lock down all security ‘vulnerabilities’ in the operating system, butg when it take over a day to try (and still fail) to set up two laptops to share files, it just goes to show what a pile of crap Vista and the help instructions are.

  39. Filippone_Deez Says:

    i have no other peoples to share to in the list its not seein my xp

  40. Mike Says:

    I can’t seem to get this to work with Windows ME. I can see the Vista PC in the Network Neighborhood on the ME box, but when I double click on it, I get prompted for a password. I have identical username/passwords setup on both computers. I have Password Protected Sharing turned off. I added the Everyone group to the Folder share permissions list and gave it Co-Owner permission. Has anyone been able to successfully share a Vista folder with Windows ME?


  41. Chris Says:

    I have the same exact issue as I have a drive on my Vista computer shared out, but my WinME computer is not able to view it. I was always getting a password prompt, turned that feature off and still getting it. Then took ever user known to Vista and gave them full control access. Now I get a message “Access is denied”. Has anyone successfully viewed files from ME to a Vista machine?

  42. I recently purchased a laptop with windows Vista Home Premium. I always had no trouble networking or file sharing until I came across Vista. I tried many different tuorial and forum sites and nobody seemed to have the right answres for me. Your tutorial was the only one that was able to help.
    Thank You!
    Scott D. Lombard

  43. proudgeek Says:

    Scott — Glad this was helpful to you! Feel free to pass this blog post’s link on to others.

    Chris — I’m afraid I can’t help you with Windows ME issues. I’m surprised, though, that XP and ME operate differently regarding file-sharing, though.

  44. Spike Says:

    I’ve been writing applications for Windows since Win3.1, and this is just bullsh*t. I hope someday what happened to Dell happens to Microsoft and they wake up. There is no technical reason why this has to be this hard! You *could* just right-click and choose ‘Share this folder with everybody on my local network’ and have the *software* figure out how to do it. But no. It’s just lard-butt indifference on the part of Microsoft’s engineers and their managers. Why should they spend 1,000 man-hours to make something easy for customers, when they can spend 40 hours coding some witless modal dialog with some checkboxes, 20 hours documenting it (badly) and then let their customers waste 10,000,000 hours dealing with it! Do the math – Microsoft projects 1 billion Windows users next year ( So a problem that wastes 1 hour for 1 customer in 100(!) will cost the global economy 10 million hours. But from Microsoft’s view, it doesn’t cost them anything. What are the customers going to do, switch to Linux? Well – the customers *are* doing something, actually, they’re buying record numbers of Macs. I’m a software engineer, that’s why it pisses me off so much when Microsoft’s programmers treat their customers like cockroaches.

  45. Bob Says:


    I have just installed a “wireless router” in my home, and we have 2 computers: a desktop w/ Windows XP and our laptop has Windows Vista.

    I was successful in getting the laptop to be able to access the ‘net around the house, but I am completely lost when trying to get my laptop to access files that are on the desktop.

    Can you point me to a step by step way of getting the desktop w/XP to share w/the laptop running Vista? Also, do I have to load each program on my desktop to my laptop in order to access the files? (e.g. iTunes, or Word files?)

    Just wondering–you seem to have knowledge of this, and it might save me $200 from hiring the geeksquad to come out and just fix it. :)

    Thanks for any advice you can give.

  46. Dave Says:

    i have sharing working 90% of the way. The only problem I have is that when I add a file to a folder that I have already set up as a share, that new file is not automatically shared. (Grrrrr).

    The work around for me right now is, turn OFF sharing on the shared folder, then turn it back On again; this seems to flag each file as sharable (just a guess).

    As with other aggravating annoyances, this used to work file on XP.

  47. Dave Says:

    One other hint for anyone pulling their hair out because computers can’t see each other: Check the WORKGROUP NAME on each system. The default name in Vista is “WORKGROUP”, but the default name in some earlier versions of windows was “MSHOME”.

    To check the name, right-click on the Computer (or My Computer) icon and select Properties. The workgroup name is listed along with the network name of your computer. On Vista there is a ‘Change Settings’ short cut, and on earlier versions there should be a tab on this Properties dialog that says ‘Network Identification’ or some such.


  48. RN Says:

    Grrrr. I followed this instruction and was able to set up. It was working fine. But then yesterday I had to reset my router for some reason. Then, I fowllowed again the instruction with fully confident that I could do it because I did it once. Turn outon my head because I keep pulling.

  49. RN Says:

    Grrrr. I followed this instruction and was able to set up. It was working fine. But then yesterday I had to reset my router for some reason. Then, I fowllowed again the instruction with fully confident that I could do it because I did it once. Turn out I was wrong. I don’t think there are many hair left on my head because I keep pulling.

  50. pwn Says:

    As a commenter said earlier do not use WEP. There is software available that can crack it in a couple of minutes. Anybody who is trying to nose around other people’s networks can use this software. Use WPA instead.

  51. Jerry L Says:

    I know this post was made back in April, but I’m sure there’s people new to networking that stumbled upon this page, like I have.

    This past week I pain-stakingly set up my router & configured all the settings on both my XP PC and Vista laptop. The ONLY problem I have now is this:

    >>> While my XP PC can access Vista’s “Public” folder and change/move/modify files, it is not the case for my Vista laptop. On my Vista laptop, I CANNOT change/move/modify any files on any shared folders on my XP PC. <<<

    This leads me to believe that my XP PC is restricting access, but I don’t know the source. I tried turning off the firewall, did PING tests & the like but I cannot find a solution. So if anyone has any advice, please share here. Thank you.

  52. […] front page of StumbleOn.   My most popular post ever is ironically one of my geekiest posts ever, Windows Vista Annoyance #3: file / folder sharing between computers on a network.  It’s regularly on the top of my DAILY list of most-viewed blog posts, mostly because of […]

  53. Travelinman Says:

    Jerry make sure that in the share options with the drop down where you add users that when you add the laptop with Vista you change the dropdown box after adding it to owner or co-owner or whatever option it is the default setting is read only so you can’t modify the files or anything unless you change that dropdown to something other than read only. Hope that Helps.

    By the way thanks for the great article you just got me and about 20 other people that I will now show how to get this up and running. Thanks a million that step nine was a tricky bugger.

    To anyone else having troubles make sure that the other OSes you have on the network are enable to share also.

  54. Loreat Says:

    I was having the same problem as alot of people with my Vista computer and the XP’s. After reading through this, one post stood out and fixed my problem. Having come with a free version of Norton, Norton had its own firewall which prevented the other computers from accessing Vista.

    Started up Norton Internet Security->Personal Firewall/Configure. Picked the Trust Control side bar setting, and the Trusted window. Just added the IP’s for the XP computers and now they could access the Vista computer.

  55. Gary Klipp Says:

    Article was helpful but did not solve the problem of connecting a Vista machine to a Windows 2000 computer. The 2000 computer can ping the Vista machine but the vista machine can’t ping the 2000 machine and neither can find the other on the network. Any suggestions?

  56. Sean Blanda Says:

    Thank you for this!

  57. wes Says:

    OK, I’m sure I’m a dunce. When I click “PRIMARY” (under Network and Sharing Center). A box pops up titled “Connect to Primary” and requires a user name and password. I have used every user name and password I have and always get “Log on Unsuccessful”. Thus, I can not view anything from the Primary PC. Where am I going wrong?

  58. proudgeek Says:

    Wes — hmm, have you tried leaving both fields blank, and/or making sure you have “Password protected sharing” set to be “off”?

  59. C Says:

    Unbuntu? Lesser Drive? You have GOT to be kidding. What’s a “Lesser Drive”? My ubuntu install is 7.9 Gigs. Don’t gimme no “Lesser Drive” bullcrap : ). It’s a gigantic system hog JUST like any other OS (even WITH most services off – That’s how it SHOULD be. The ONLY thing good about Ubuntu is the Synaptic package manager. The look and feel of Ubuntu is behind OSX and Vista. Also, it sure does do everything I want it to do just like Windows or Mac. Noobs shouldn’t act like they know what’s up especially when it has NOTHING to do with the topic.

    Thanks for the Vista help. It does not resolve my issue but i’m glad to see it has helped others. Ciao-Ciao!

  60. Jerry Says:

    I just came across this tutorial yesterday after struggling with setting up a shared folder on my new Vista desktop for 3 weeks. Step 9 – no other web site gave this info. Thanks!

  61. Grin Says:

    Thanks for the tips. I have the no user – no password situation and was starting to lose what little hair I have left trying to set up file sharing. I and my meager patch of hair thank you.

  62. Pal Pito Says:

    Thankyou thankyou thankyou. Halleluyah. My Vista media PC was getting dangerously close to being hurled from a 1st floor window…… literally MONTHS of exasperation are at an end.

  63. rlutze Says:

    My question was about using the wireless router to print from a laptop accessing the internet wirelessly to a printer connected to my desktop using Vista. I don’t see how this answers my question.

  64. pankaj Says:

    thanx buddy it really works…

  65. nid Says:

    All great stuff, but I have a Vista Ultimate machine with VMWare on it and I cannot for the life of me get sharing to work grom an XP Guest to the Vista Host without it popping up a UserID and password dialog.

    When XP wsa the host there were no problems. Sure I can map drives so that the shares re-mount when the guest boots with a UserID and Password, but on a reboot, the connection fails and the mapped drives dont mount…

    Any suggestions??

  66. Ferd Says:

    I followed these instructions, and they worked perfectly for sharing individual folders from Vista on my network.

    The question I now have is: How do you share entire drives from Vista on a network? Between XP computers I can easily share the entire C drive (or any other), but when I try to do that with Vista, I get error messages on my other computers. When you right-click the drive in My Computer, you don’t get the same file sharing window with drives as you do with folders.

    Any suggestions?

    And thanks so much for you help!!!

  67. Dave Says:

    I have the same problem as a long-ago previous post but have not seen solutions posted. Descr: Vista desktop direct wired to Linksys w/less router (WRT54GS(no ver #)) which communicates with my XP laptop wirelessly). The XP laptop has the LLTD patch and can see and work with files on the Vista but not the other way around, the ‘view full map’ will show the laptop but it can’t be opened. The XP has full sharing on its C:\ drive. A test utility shows that the router does not support UPnP so I’m thinking of upgrading the firmware to get it to see if that helps. I have experimented with turning off the firewall. Pls advise. Thanks!

  68. Therese Says:

    After spending the better part of the day trying to figure how to use Briefcase and/or Sync with my Vista and XP computers I turned to the internet. Basically, I fouund out it couldn’t be done. I read Microsoft’s instructions on how to share files and couldn’t understand any of it. I found this site and followed the steps. It worked! I checked my files about five times on both computers and everything is fine. Thank you. And I am even getting to bed on time. Yeah. BTW I have McAfee and for me it wasn’t a problem.

  69. Jeremy Says:

    Yep, seems Norton was the problem with mine too. Two workstation computer bought at the same time, both with the Norton free trial installed on them. I thought what the hell, 90 days of free Norton. Installed Quickbooks and fought with it for two days before I came here and saw the post about entering in the IP address in the NIS firewall.

    I should have thought of that first.

    Oh well, all is up and running now.

  70. ivan Says:

    Thanks, you really make it work.

  71. Luke Says:

    I have a functioning network with 3 computers. HP Laptop running Windows XP Home, HP Pavilion 9880 running Windows XP Pro and my new HP Elite running Vista Home Premium. I have setup an exact user account on all three computers with the exact same password. I log in to all 3 with this same user account. I have ZoneAlarm setup on all three computers with a firewall access provided to the network range to so that all routers and computers are allowed. I have disabled the Windows Firewall and the Nortons Internet Security on my Vista. Only Nortons AntiVirus is running on the XP’s. I am able to view and access both XP computers from my Vista. I am unable to view or access the Vista from either XP. On my Vista, I do have Password protected sharing set to On. In step #7, you state “Right-click the folder that you want to share, and then click Share. The File Sharing window is displayed.”. When I click Share, I do not get the same window as you. This is Windows Vista Home Premium. I get the usual C: Properties with the General/Tool/Hardware/Sharing/Security/Quota tabs. In the Sharing tab, C:\ is showed as Shared and the Network Path is \\HP-ELITE-1\HP_Elite_C.

    Any suggestions on how to get the XP computers to be able to view and access my new Vista computer?

  72. GRRRRRRRR Says:


  73. Sanju Says:

    thanks man this works for me and transferring files between windows xp and vista without any problem

  74. Tony Rimmer Says:

    Thanks for this !!!

    I spent ages trying to work out why nobody could access my shared hard drives, they would show up in both vista and osx but wouldnt have permissions or mount.

    I shared the seperate folders inside the drives and it works.



  75. Shaheen Says:

    That was simple. I was able to set it up for my wireless network in such a way that I can view my Vista (Home Edition) files from my Windows 2000 Server. Excellent work. Thank you so much. Please ignore the negative comments some users have posted here. Remember users, not everything will go as you like. I have experienced it myself but this solution has helped and other users who have posted their comments and thanks.



  76. HostilwitVista Says:

    just when i thaught i found the answer to my problem…
    i did all the necessary step’s to set up networking but evrytime i try to change the setting’s in my network and sharing center i get “incorrect function” thrown in my face .. maybe i missed sumthing sumwhere but i kinda doubt it

  77. Wanderer Says:

    This is really annoying. I can only share my ‘public’ folder on vista. I’m trying to share other folders over my workgroup but can’t.

    Also, one of my XP computers cant identify the vista computer in workgroup.


  78. Wanderer Says:

    Let me make my question more specific.

    I have the same exact sharing settings on my other folders as I do the public folder yet when I try to dive in to everything else I get the ‘access denied’ message. This is weak.

    Everything should be right, this is the only problem I have.

    My permissions are exactly the same though.

  79. Wanderer Says:

    K, I figured it out and am going to post just in case other people want to share other folders other then the default public.

    There are two tabs that enables users to share. They are sharing and security. If you can see the folder you want to get into but get the accessed denied message, this means that you need to go into the security tab and edit permissions for ‘everyone’ or the specific users you want to access them.

    Hope this helps. Even though I like the way vista has everything set up this is still just that, an annoyance for something so simple on XP.

  80. Chris Says:

    Hey, I seem to have a similar issue as a couple posts back; I can connect to the network and I have a “SharedDocs” folder on my XP but I can’t access it from my Vista. I’m trying to move all my music and what not from my XP to my vista and don’t need to move files the other way. Any help would be awesome.

    If anyone reads this and knows how to help email


  81. nachocast Says:

    I followed the article, but still can´t share files and folders, I have 2 PCs, both have same configuration but can´t see each other, they only see themselves on network. On PC1, when try to open its shared folder from network I got an error (“windows cannot access \\PC1\Public”), this does not happen with PC2… I think PC1 is the one that can´t share but don’t know why. Please help

  82. John Barnes Says:

    Thank you for your post/blog. Posts like this encourage a spirit of cooperation and sense of community.

  83. Barrie Says:

    Guess what? Me too. I have a desk top running W2000 and a laptop running Vista home premium. I had already done the things in your article (but would have found it much easier had I found the article first!!). Now I have a very strange situation. I have set up shared network files on both machines. Oddly unlike most other people I can see, read and open all the Vista files from the W2000 machine but I cannot save anything to the folder i.e. either new files or changes to existing files.

    However, though the shared W2000 network drive/folder appears on the Vista laptop (and I can even right click to see the drive properties) I cannot even get a list of the files. Double clicking or clicking the expand down arrow sends the laptop into some read sequence followed by the error message: The Local Device Name is Already In Use.

    I don’t have Norton (bitter experience), I have enabled Everyone and Guest on both machines and have identical user names and passwords (even though password protection is off). When it comes to adding specific users I am unable to add anything other than machine based users i.e. not network users. Don’t know whether this is normal or not.

    Any ideas?


  84. Michael Says:

    I have followed the instructions carefully to a T on both Vista Computers. However, I still can not access the others drive. I have password protection turned off, and it it actually sees the shared drive/folder but when I click on it from the other computer, it asks for a user name and password. I have this turned off on both computer, but they are not seeming to realize that I have them turned off.

    I am connecting through a secured wireless router.

  85. zubin Says:


    nice post.

    but i would like to know if there is any way to automatically share new files added to an already shared folder in windows vista?

    if you know a solution or know a good reliable network sharing software which can do that, plz let me know.



  86. ..a lot of folks are encountering the same problem, which isn’t really answered above.


    (1) Navigate to the Network and Sharing Center

    (2) Make sure your network is ‘private’ (customize tab)

    (3) Turn on Network Discovery and File Sharing

    (4) Navigate to the folder you wish to share. Right-click and select ‘Properties’.

    (5) Click ‘Share’

    (6) Select ‘Guest’ from the drop-down menu. Then ‘Add’ and finally ‘Share’

    …and done. If you are viewing the network from XP you may need to refresh the folder view (view–>refresh) to see the new shared folder.

    The irony here is that the Networking utility here isn’t that inelegant. It’s just that’s buried under such a terrible & misinformed user interface (Vista) that many users can’t even find it.

    This post is based on information found here :

  87. zubin Says:

    hey andrew,

    still that does not solve the problem of automatically sharing new files downloaded in an already shared folder(in a vista computer). u need to unshare and share the folder again to make the new file visible on network. i think an outside software would do the trick…will post here if i find one.

  88. Mark Says:

    Thank You! It was easy to follow, and worked the first time!

    Before I found your article, I did the regular XP file sharing techniques. I was able to map / ‘net use’ the drive, but the files contained in the folder were not accessible. I had a message: ‘Access Denied’.

  89. bibek Says:

    i have campaq labtop with windows vista home basic edition and i had to form recover disc butbut after a month it failed to form the cd sying the file is corrupted . now my system is being corrupted and i have to install the system did i can use any other vista cd and my product key and serial key.and i cant try xp because my driver does not support the xp so pls give me help my labtop is going to be worth less

  90. Bose SB Says:

    Thanks a lot – to all of you.

    I have been trying for sharing files (other than through “Public” folder. I had opted for password not required in the sharing centre. The PCs and the shared folders became visible but was unable to enter the folder.

    The issue of permissions at TWO places – “Sharing” and “Security” – was the culprit in my case. Permission(s) have to be given to “Everyone” (or maybe guests) at BOTH places/tabs for the thing to work.

    Thanks once again.

  91. StevenX Says:

    I’m having the opposite problem than the one this post fixes. I have been able to see files from my Vista computer on my XP computer just fine across my home network. It’s the other way around that’s not working. In my Vista computer I can see the XP computer but it won’t let me open it. When I went to turn off Windows Firewall in my XP computer, it won’t let me…the “off” button is light-grayed out and won’t select…

  92. Marie Says:

    Thank you for the plain English directions! Part way through following your directions, however, I realized it is the Public folder itself I’m having trouble with, not a “general” folder. I successfully set up my XP machine (wired) and the Mac (wireless) to share their “Public” folders with the rest of my home network (Vista & Ubuntu machines can see and access both of them), but I’m still having a problem with my Vista computers (one wireless, one wired dual-boot Ubuntu/Vista). Although I have gotten the Public folder on the wireless Vista machine to be shared across the network, everytime it goes to sleep or is re-booted, the Public folder sharing returns to “not shared”. Any suggestions on making it stay shared?

    One last plea for help is with the Ubuntu machine. Although I can see the files on the Ubuntu machine from the XP machine, I cannot really access them (can’t open or copy them out).

  93. Charles Says:

    Didn’t work at all. I still cannot access the vista machine from XP, nor can my vista machine access any of my XP boxes.

  94. Tomaz Cedilnik Says:

    What puzzles me is that after following the instructions (I figured out the “Everyone” bit myself) the “File Sharing” window tells

    Your folder is shared … [blah blah]


    and what ends up being share is the top level folder \\VistaMachine\The but not FolderName directly – what am I doing wrong?

    After unsharing \The (funny enough, I need to go to “Advanced sharing” to stop sharing), if I got to FolderName and choose “Share” it tells me it’s already shared and offers me to stop sharing or change sharing permissions. “Properties” and “Sharing” tab says “Not shared”. Aaaaaarrrgh!

    “Properties”, “Sharing” tab, “Share” causes the same problem but I think I’ve figured it out, in the same tab I use “Advanced sharing” instead, tick “Share this folder” and set permissions… Wow, it’s working!!! At last, after several hours of struggling before and after I stumbled upon this blog >;-> (To be fair, it only took me about an hour afterwards.)

    Now to summarise what to do: navigate to the folder but don’t open it, right click on the folder, choose “Properties”. Go to the “Sharing” tab, click “Advanced sharing” (not “Share”). Tick “Share this folder”. Default is read-only, click “Permissions” and change whatever necessary. “Ok” etc. – result: you are now sharing that folder directly, not through the full path, which happens if you click “Share” instead of “Advanced sharing” in the “Sharing” tab of “Properties”. I’m also happy to say that whatever I drop into the shared folder is automatically shared. Oh, and don’t forget to first switch things on in the “Network and Sharing Center” as Proud Geek explained in steps 1-4.

    Phew, sorry for all that, just wanted to share (starting to hate this word) my experience with you.

  95. Gerry Kurz Says:

    I get a totally different windows at the File Sharing window step…..I am running Vista Ultimate….any ideas?

  96. vatan adrian Says:

    great job with this tutorial. it works just fine if u follow the steps. thx a lot !

  97. Greg Says:

    Very helpful post. I think the stumbling block for most is the step where you’re supposed to select the Guest or Everyone, then click the Add button. Microsoft needs to make this clearer in Windows 7.

    One thing I didn’t like is, if the folder being shared on the Vista machine is anywhere in the user’s folder, a strange, totally unnecessary and useless (in my opinion) folder appears on other machines viewing the share from other computers, and it’s called “Users”

    For example, let’s say you’re sharing a folder called “Stuff”, located in the Documents folder of the user, let’s call them Bob. Once you get the “Stuff” folder shared, then go view the shares on BOB01’s computer, you’ll see a Stuff item and a Users item. If you look inside that User’s item, it’s got a bunch of weird items you don’t really care about.

    To my knowledge, I have the public folder access turned off, and I read somewhere on the internet that this just happens because the folder being shared is in the User’s folder. At any rate, if it’s bothersome to you, I think you can get rid of it by opening the BOB01 item in the Network on the sharing computer, right click on Properties, and on the Sharing tab, click the Advanced Sharing button. On the dialog that appears, uncheck the box that says to share the folder and click OK, then OK or close out the other dialogs. This should get rid of users seeing this totally unnecessary and useless Users folder. I imagine it might come back if you tried to share another folder in the user’s folder, though I haven’t tried that yet.

  98. blankpixels Says:

    i hope you can help me.
    i’m having problems sharing and seeing other computers on my network. i was following the steps you listed here but i can’t find where i can enable file sharing. it’s not anywhere on my network and sharing window.
    i’m logged in as admin. i’ve already checked that file and print sharing is enabled but i’m not sure if a group policy or something is preventing me to share any drive or folder. the sharing tab or option is missing on the properties window of my drives, too.
    help please.

  99. shahid Says:

    Hi everyone

    well i dont know i am still having problem in sharing files between my vista and xp machines

    i have done all the setings as discussed by people in this post.
    i can see both systems in the shared network devices . but the problem is i cant access any of the shared folder including public as well as other shard folders. i have checked my anti virus setting as well as mentioned by some people as cause of the problem but it hasnt worked for me

    i would appreciate if anyone suggest the root cause of this annoying problem of sharing files beteen vista and xp pcs

  100. piratesmvp04 Says:

    Thank you so, so much for this post! This helped me resolve the problem where my xp machine couldn’t access my vista shared folder. It couldn’t access it because I didn’t add Everyone to the permissions list. I did that after reading this post, and now both of my computers are communicating happily! I don’t know why I couldn’t find this info on other sites. You’re the man!

  101. ns Says:

    thx, it is useful n workable

  102. Ashley Says:

    You are a life saver! Thank you so much!!

  103. […] enlisted the help of my good friend Google and found the blog of the Proud Geek. The Proud Geek had a great post about just this issue and after following the instructions, I was good to […]

  104. Jeff Says:

    When I clicked on “Show me all the files and folders I am sharing” it continued to show that I was sharing a folder that I had told not Vista not to share.

    Here is how I worked around this.

    1. Turning file sharing off
    2. Rename the file (this will tell you “this folder will no longer be shared”)
    3. Restart (not sure if this is needed but it worked for me)
    4. Create a new folder under the same path and name as the old folder.

    After that, Vista no longer showed that I was sharing that folder.

    Note: even when file sharing is turned off and the file didn’t exist, Vista still showed that I was sharing this folder.

    This took me 2 hours to figure out so I hope it sames somebody else some time. Has anyone else run into similar kinks in Vista file sharing?


  105. Youre really thankful for this post, Ive been really enjoying checking up your posts from time to time. Looking forward to see your future posts

  106. Evelien Says:

    Unfortunately Proud Geek seems to have stopped replying to questions here. I have two problems already mentioned in this thread, but not yet answered:
    1: What about sharing an entire drive? It has different dialogs.
    2: I am able see to all the shared files, but I am not allowed to change them, nor can I create new files in the shared folders (from the other PC’s). [Or is writing/changing files not supposed to work for other folders than the ‘Public’ one? The available choices in the Network and Sharing thingy make me suspect it is not possible at all. :( ]

  107. Jeff Says:


    You can share an entire drive. I have access to my assistants entire C drive. You’ll have to Login to their computer using their Administrator User account.

  108. Evelien Says:

    Thanks Jeff!

    Hmm… I was using an Administrator account already. Anyway, I got it working here now.

    I have tried so many things, it is now hard to say what was my final solution. The last thing I changed was FIRST create a new network place for the shared folder on the Vista machine in Windows XP and THEN mapping my network drive to that network place.

    After doing that I can suddenly read AND write to the shared folder in Vista from my XP machine. I am so glad it finally works now, I am afraid to change anything. :)

    I am going to do the same drive mapping on my other XP machine tomorrow, maybe I will then be able to report the right way to do it here.

  109. Jeff Says:

    I’ve had so much trouble with Vista networking and shared folders. When you try to “un-share” a folder vista goes crazy. I am now unable to login to the computer that I was discussing earlier.

    I had full access to every file once I shared the C drive on his computer.

    Luckily I don’t need to have it. I have every one using a shared folder on my PC to transfer large files around the office.

  110. Vista and W2K (2000). After around three weeks of intermittent and frustrating activity here’s what I’ve found. It aint nice…

    Beginning with XP Microsoft switched from an open standard packet protocol to a propiertry (?) protocol that “…reduces the command from (hundreds) to only 19 …” and speeds up communications. All well and good and also bacwardly compatable as it can send replies in the old format too.

    However, it cannot (ie has been made not to) issue requests in old format over the Microsoft Client For File And Print Sharing (and many other) utilities.

    Soooo, other pre-XP computers on the network can ‘request’ and be granted access to public folders/printers etc (ie W2K can see/read/write to them) BUT Vista cannot do the same with pre-XP machines.

    This means that you must cross their palms with silver, either by buying a Vista uprade or replacing anything so old and lame as not to be able to run it with a brand spanking new computer running XP or Vista.

    In other words it’s the sales teams way of saying FU as**ole.

    They’ve been playing these games since the early 90’s ‘O/S wars’. Why? Because there’s really nowhere else to shop :(

    So, my old reliable dual 450MHz file server (that’s all it does, a centralized place for my data all set up and configured nicely with back-ups etc) will now have to be junked (like its EISA OS/2 predecessor) and I’ll have to spend around 25-30 hours configuring its replacement (like, I don’t have anything else to do, right?).

    Now…. if an enterprising firmware writer could program a conversion interface…. oops, that’s right, I bet MS won’t let you have any info…

    Enough ranting. Basically if it’s pre-XP it’s obsolete. Good luck to you all.

  111. Well, er, that was rather embarrassing :{

    I just looked at one of my W2K laptops on my Vista and all the shared stuff’s right there before my very eyes!!!

    Now, I may be old but I don’t think I’m senile (yet).

    I’ve configured and checked until dawn, shut down all my anti-this anti-that stuff to no avail.

    However, this DOES mean there’s light at the end of the tunnel somewhere.

    Good luck out there.

  112. Jeannie Says:

    We have 3 computers, 2 of which are laptops. I have set up file sharing on the PC and 1 laptop, but the other laptop will not let me set up by right clicking on a folder, clicking share, then it asks for name. I put in the name of the computer I want to share with and a box pops up that says…. can’t find user ….. this is a Vista operating system.. the other laptop is also Vista and it let me set up this other laptop … any suggestions??

  113. Jeff Says:

    The name isn’t the computer name. It is the login name for your computer, your user account name. For example, my computer has an admin account “Jeff” and a non admin account called “user.”

    When it’s asking who you want to share with you can select, “Jeff” or “user” or everyone which shares it between both user accounts. This way whether you’re logged in as Jeff or User you can access this file.

    What file sharing does is allows other user accounts to access a file on your computer. For example, my coworkers can access a shared folder on my desktop by logging into the generic user account (user in this example) from their computers. So I’m logged in my computer as the Admin, “Jeff.” At the same time one or several of my coworkers are logged to my computer, using a user account that I created on my computer called “user”

    If all of your computers have enabled “allow file sharing, and allowed network discovery,” you can click the network button (start menu) and select laptop and log in using the 2nd user account.

    Assuming this is an office, or home office, here is what I would suggest doing:
    1: Create a 2nd user account on the PC (not admin)
    2: Create a new folder which will be your “network folder” that everyone will have access to.
    3: Allow sharing on that folder, select share with everyone when it asks for your name. Allow at least three simultaneous users (or more if you want to add more later).
    4: Make sure Network Discovery and file sharing are allowed on all 3 computers AND MAKE SURE YOUR NETWORK IS SECURE!!!!!
    5: Each of the 2 PCs can right click on the start menu, click network, login using the PC’s second user name and password (what you created in step 1)
    , and have access to the shared folder.

    You’ll have to give the 2nd user name the permissions you want in step 3. For example, my coworkers all have read/write access which allows them to modify files. I’d take away write access if I wanted them only to see the files in my (our) shared folder.

    Let me know if this helps. If this application isn’t relevant to your needs, let me know.

  114. Here is the band-aid.

    On the vista box restart the server service and the browser service and it will work for a while. I am still looking for fix.


  115. Jim Says:

    Sharing Vista Question – In Vista if I share my Videos or Music folder (any folder under the users name) – the Shareing is automaticially turned on for the Root USER folder. C:\User (in fact turning sharing on for all the users folders).

    It does this on both my vista machines – and I see postings about it with no solutions on the web.

    If you have an answer please let me know.

  116. Denny Says:

    The bad thing is so many stupid people getting viruses and now MS has locked down my own pc even to me a huge pain in the ass. If MS had just put as much effort in to a good firewall as they did trying to convince people there OS was safe it actually would have been an easyer approach. Ever wonder how much effort was totaly waisted on 256bit icons, I mean who gives a fuck. It’s like a really high end paint job an a car with no motor.

  117. Mike Says:

    Just wanted to say thak you for the Windows Vista Annoyance 3 articel you wrote. It was so clearly explained. Everything you said would appear on the screen, DID,just as you predicted.

  118. Davesc Says:

    thanx it worked now i can finaly share files

  119. Benjamin Says:

    Network: 3 PCs Win7, 1 Laptop Vista. 1 PC & Laptop hooked up wireless. Laptop was “on vacation” for a couple of weeks. Now it is back, and it cannot see shared folders. I have gone over ALL network settings 4 or 3 times. How in the world can an OS loose the ability to see Shared folders? What it can see is all 3 PCs and itself, Public and Printers(except for the PC on the wireless), and nothing else… ANY IDEAS out there??

    • Benjamin Says:

      On reboot of main PC, all of a sudden there are the Network Shared folders. Was able to re-install Fedex Client Server. For Accounting Software, I uninstalled it, which rebooted the computer, and on the Laptop reboot now there is No more Mapped Network Drive access. Oddly enough, I can run the Fedex software, which only runs if it is running on the main PC. Yet I cannot map any drives again… what is this Vista problem? Obviously the computers can communicate and share data. Fedex will not open if it can’t find it open on the main PC, here it is running… Why did I loose mapped drives? And cannot even see the folders on browse??

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

%d bloggers like this: