Windows File Sharing

I just managed to get two Windows computers to share documents over the network. It took less than 15 minutes. This is exciting progress; with older versions of Windows, it was something that I’d spend an hour on and still not be able to get working, and then I’d ask some other computer whiz who would confess that they could never get it to work, either.

Here’s what it took: On the Windows XP machine, I had to find the folder I wanted to share, right-click on it, and select “Sharing.” It took a couple minutes to change permissions (?), but it worked. I’d have expected to set this up in Control Panel, but perhaps the way Microsoft does it actually makes much more sense and I just expected it to be harder. (I viewed a shared folder as a system-level shared resource, hence my choice to look in the Control Panel.)

The wrinkle was that the computer that was to mount this shared resource runs Vista, and, for some reason, it ships with Network Sharing turned off. This, too, was pretty smooth once I figured out what was going on. A helpful little notification was displayed when I tried accessing “Network” in the finder (err, Windows Explorer), indicating that sharing was turned off. Somewhat confusingly, it seems to link sharing your stuff on the network with being able to access other peoples’ network shares, but I pretty trivially was able to fine-tune this in the Control Panel, so that we could access one computer without sharing our stuff.

I still think it would be neat to set up a network file server, perhaps a little Atom-based machine with a few SATA disks and onboard RAID, running OpenFiler or the like, although I can’t imagine that iSCSI is necessary for a home network. There are a lot of pre-made machines for this, although some are weird. Netgear has a decent offering, and Cisco has a spiffy-looking one with product specs full of gotchas: lots of USB ports, but they seem to support “configuration backup only” as well as UPS control, support for 15 users (implying that it’s limited), and they seem to consider two 250GB drives in a NAS to mean you have 500GB of storage, which is just begging for data loss. On the other hand, it seems to support encryption, journaling filesystems, and SMART. The Thecus products seem to be pretty feature-packed and favored by geeks, but I’m still thinking that a Linux box has the ultimate advantage of allowing me to slice-and-dice across multiple volumes with different access controls. Keep some sections walled off for backup.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *