Saturday, May 24, 2008

Windows Vista Sharing File Systems

Ever since the release of Windows for Workgroups in the early 90s, users have been able to share files across the network in a peer-to-peer setup. Sharing resources with others across the network is pretty straightforward. You decide what you want to share with other users, whether it is files or printers, you enabling sharing if it isn’t enabled already, you create the share, and then decide who has access to the resources and the type of access they have. Windows Vista provides a new capability in that users can actually share individual files from within their own Users directory. Versions before Windows Vista were only capable of sharing folders and not individual files. Windows Vista provides two ways of sharing:

1. Public folder sharing

2. Any folder sharing

Each method provides easy ways of collaborating with other users, whether across the network or locally on the system itself. Public folder sharing provides users with an easy way of sharing files without having to create a share. The public folder is designed specifically for sharing files. As you already know, Windows Vista (just like XP and NT) is a multi-user operating system. Multiple users can share the same system and log on with their own IDs, thereby having their own separate profiles on one PC.

Public Folder Sharing

Users who share a single system can share files amongst themselves. In Windows XP, this was done using the Shared Documents folder. Now in Windows Vista, you have a Public folder that automatically allows all users of the local system to access files in this folder. Microsoft has replaced the old Documents And Settings folder, which housed the user profiles, with the Users folder instead, where the Public folder resides. Notice that the Public folder is also listed in the Favorite Links section in the left window pane. This provides quicker access to all users on the system.

Now let’s say you want to share the contents of your Public folder with users on the network.You must do two things:

1. Turn on file sharing.

2. Turn on sharing for the Public folder.

You must enable file sharing in Windows Vista to share both the Public folder and any other folders you decide to make available to users across the network. To do this, go to Control Panel | Network and Sharing Center. In the Network and Sharing Center, you will see an area called Sharing and Discovery.

Sharing and Discovery contains five sharing settings:

■ Network discovery

■ File sharing

■ Public folder sharing

■ Printer sharing

■ Media sharing

Notice that all sharing is disabled by default. First, we must turn on file sharing. To do so, just click the down arrow button to the right of it and select Turn on file sharing. This allows us to share any files we want. User Access Control (UAC) will prompt you for the administrator’s password if it is still enabled.

Turning on file sharing shares the %SystemDrive%\Users folder. After we’ve enabled file sharing, we must enable Public folder sharing so that we can make available any documents or files we place there for network users. As we did when turning on file sharing, click the right down-arrow button besides Public file sharing, you have three options:

■ Turn on sharing so anyone with network access can open files

■ Turn on sharing so anyone with network access can open, change, and create files

■ Turn off sharing (people logged on to this computer can still access this folder)

Any Folder Sharing

We’ve just shown how users can use Public folder sharing amongst local and network users. Now, what if you need to share different folders throughout your system and not just the Public folder? Windows Vista provides two ways of sharing other files and folders. One way is to use the Advanced Sharing Interface. This is the same method you’ve come to know and love that allows you to manually configure share permissions on the folder. The other method is running through the new File Sharing Wizard.

The File Sharing Wizard can be used to share files and folders in a workgroup or domain environment. The shared files and folders can be stored outside the users profile if need be. Though the sharing of individual folders with files in them can be shared outside the user’s directory, the ability to share an individual file is lost and the user cannot share an individual file that resides outside their user directory.


When in a domain environment, turn off Network Discovery. It can generate unnecessary network traffic. Use Group Policies to prevent users on Vista systems from sharing files from their user profiles unless they are local administrators.


After turning off Network Discovery, be sure to publish any shared folders in Active Directory. This will make it easier for users throughout the domain to find them.

*.* Source of Information : Syngress How to Cheat at Microsoft Vista Administration

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