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Troubleshooting File and Print Sharing

Learn how to troubleshoot file and print sharing.


Symptoms and Solutions

  • Make sure you are connected to the network and can surf before attempting to use file or print sharing. If you can't access a share, loss of network connectivity may be the problem.
  • Keep share names to less than 12 characters long, with no spaces.
  • Make sure the computers in your network are in the same Windows Workgroup and not part of a domain. Conflicts between a network domain and Windows workgroup can arise when a work-related laptop computer attempts to access shared folders and printers on a home computer that is a member of a workgroup. In this case, type the account name and password that corresponds to a computer administrator account on the server computer.

Windows 7
For help with networking using a Windows 7 computer, visit Microsoft's file sharing essentials page.

Windows Vista
If the Network window does not contain all of the computers in your home or small office workgroup, then it could be due to the following:
  • You may need to enable network discovery, file sharing, printer sharing, public folder sharing and / or password protected sharing.
  • The Internet Connection Firewall (ICF) or 3rd party firewall may be blocking you.
  • If password protected sharing is enabled there may not be a matching user account on the server or client computer.

Windows XP
If the workgroup window for My Network Places does not contain all of the computers in your home or small office workgroup, then it could be due to the following:
  • Internet Connection Firewall (ICF) is enabled on the network connection. For more information, see the Common Problems with ICF section of the Troubleshooting Internet Connection Firewall on Microsoft Windows XP article.
  • Enable the File and Printer Sharing exception from the Exceptions tab of the Windows Firewall Control Panel applet.

With Windows XP, you must run the Network Setup Wizard for Windows network sharing to work properly.
The Network Setup Wizard can perform these tasks on a Windows XP computer:
  • Set up the computer as an Internet Connection Sharing server that shares its Internet connection with other networked computers.
  • Set up the computer as an Internet Connection Sharing client that accesses the Internet through another computer.
  • Create a bridge between two or more network connections, combining them into a single logical connection.
  • Create a floppy disk containing the Wizard files so  the Wizard can run on another computer

How to start the Network Setup Wizard on a Windows XP computer
  • Open the Network Connections folder. Under Network Tasks, select Set up a home or small office network or
  • Select Start > All Programs > Accessories > Communications > Network Setup Wizard

If your printer is connected to a Windows XP computer, you may install printer drivers for other Operating Systems. This allows other computers that don't have the printer drivers installed to access the printer. To do this:
  • Go to Start >Printers and Faxes.
  • Right click on your printer.
  • Select Properties.
  • Select the Sharing tab.
  • Hit the Additional Drivers button.
  • Select the Operating Systems you want to support and follow the instructions.

Windows 2000
  • To access shared files on Windows 2000 from computers with a different operating system (Windows XP, ME or 98), you must use the same sign-in and password as the Windows 2000 computer. Without the same sign-in and password, you may get the error access denied.
  • On Windows 2000 computers, make sure the guest account is enabled and does not have a password.
  • Make sure proper network-access privileges are associated with non-administrator accounts. 

Windows 98/Millenium Edition (ME)
  • A network printer on Windows 98 may displays both a local printer and a remote printer.
  • If prompted, sign on to Windows 98 or Windows Millennium. Canceling out of the sign-in prompt could result in an error message saying Windows is unable to gain access to the network.

Things to consider when initially connecting a printer
  • In most cases you should connect the printer to your newest computer.
  • Most printers come with printer drivers. If you're installing the printer drivers on Windows XP computers, you may have the option to install all drivers for all operating systems. If you do this, other computers will use these drivers to access the printer and you will not need to install the drivers on each computer individually.

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