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How to share files over your network

With Microsoft Windows XP, you can share files and documents with other users on your computer and with other users on a network. There is a new user interface (UI) named Simple File Sharing and a new Shared Documents feature. This article describes the new file sharing UI and discusses the following topics:
• How to turn Simple File Sharing on and off.
• How to manage and configure levels of access to shares and files.
• Guidelines for file sharing in Windows XP.
• How to troubleshoot file sharing problems.
Windows XP Home Edition-based computers always have Simple File Sharing enabled.


INTRODUCTION
On a Windows XP-based computer, you can share files among both local and remote users. Local users log on to your computer directly through their own accounts or through a Guest account. Remote users connect to your computer over the network and access the files that are shared on your computer.

You can access the Simple File Sharing UI by viewing a folder's properties. Through the Simple File Sharing UI, you can configure both share and NTFS file system permissions at the folder level. These permissions apply to the folder, all the files in that folder, child folders, and all the files in the child folders. Files and folders that are created in or copied to a folder inherit the permissions that are defined for their parent folder. This article describes how to configure access to your files based on permission levels. Some of the information that this article contains about these permission levels is not documented in the operating system files or the Help file.


With file sharing in Windows XP, you can configure five levels of permissions. Level 1 is the most private and secure setting, and Level 5 is the most public and changeable (non-secure) setting. You can configure Levels 1, 2, 4, and 5 by using the Simple File Sharing UI. To do this, right-click the folder, and then click Sharing and Security to open the Simple File Sharing UI. To configure Level 3, copy a file or folder into the Shared Documents folder under My Computer. This configuration does not change when you turn on or turn off Simple File Sharing.


Turning on and turning off Simple File Sharing
Simple File Sharing is always turned on in Windows XP Home Edition-based computers. By default, the Simple File Sharing UI is turned on in Windows XP Professional-based computers that are joined to a workgroup. Windows XP Professional-based computers that are joined to a domain use only the classic file sharing and security interface. When you use the Simple File Sharing UI (that is located in the folder's properties), both share and file permissions are configured.

If you turn off Simple File Sharing, you have more control over the permissions to individual users. However, you must have advanced knowledge of NTFS and share permissions to help keep your folders and files more secure. If you turn off Simple File Sharing, the Shared Documents feature is not turned off.

To turn Simple File Sharing on or off in Windows XP Professional, follow these steps:
1. Double-click My Computer on the desktop.
2. On the Tools menu, click Folder Options.
3. Click the View tab, and then select the Use Simple File Sharing (Recommended) check box to turn on Simple File Sharing. (Clear this check box to turn off this feature.)


Managing levels of access to shares and to files
You can use Simple File Sharing to configure five different levels of access to shares and files:
• Level 1: My Documents (Private)
• Level 2: My Documents (Default)
• Level 3: Files in shared documents available to local users
• Level 4: Shared Files on the Network (Readable by Everyone)
• Level 5: Shared Files on the Network (Readable and Writable by Everyone)
NOTES
• By default, files that are stored in My Documents are at Level 2.
• Levels 1, 2, and 3 folders are available only to a user who is logging on locally. Users who log on locally include a user who logs on to a Windows XP Professional-based computer from a Remote Desktop (RDP) session.
• Levels 4 and 5 folders are available to users who log on locally and remote users from the network.


 The following table describes the permissions:

Access Level Everyone (NTFS/File) Owner System Administrators Everyone (Share)
Level 1 n/a Full Control Full Control n/a n/a
Level 2 n/a Full Control Full Control Full Control n/a
Level 3 Read Full Control Full Control Full Control n/a
Level 4 Read Full Control Full Control Full Control Read
Level 5 Change Full Control Full Control Full Control Full Control

Level 1: My Documents (Private)
The owner of the file or folder has read and write permission to the file or folder. Nobody else may read or write to the folder or the files in it. All subfolders that are contained in a folder that is marked as private remain private unless you change the parent folder permissions.

If you are a Computer Administrator and create a user password for your account by using the User Accounts Control Panel tool, you are prompted to make your files and folder private.

Note The option to make a folder private (Level 1) is only available to a user account in its own My Documents folder.

To configure a folder and all the files in it to Level 1, follow these steps:
1. Right-click the folder, and then click Sharing and Security.
2. Select the Make this Folder Private check box, and then click OK.
Local NTFS Permissions:
• Owner: Full Control
• System: Full Control
Network Share Permissions:
• Not Shared
Level 2 (Default): My Documents (Default)
The owner of the file or folder and local Computer Administrators have read and write permission to the file or folder. Nobody else may read or write to the folder or the files in it. This is the default setting for all the folders and files in each user's My Documents folder.

To configure a folder and all the files in it to Level 2, follow these steps:
1. Right-click the folder, and then click Sharing and Security.
2. Make sure that both the Make this Folder Private and the Share this folder on the network check boxes are cleared, and then click OK.
Local NTFS Permissions:
• Owner: Full Control
• Administrators: Full Control
• System: Full Control
Network Share Permissions:
• Not Shared
Level 3: Files in shared documents available to local users
Files are shared with users who log on to the computer locally. Local Computer Administrators can read, write, and delete the files in the Shared Documents folder. Restricted Users can only read the files in the Shared Documents folder. In Windows XP Professional, Power Users may also read, write, or delete any files in the Shared Documents Folder. The Power Users group is only available in Windows XP Professional. Remote users cannot access folders or files at Level 3. To permit remote users to access files, you must share them out on the network (Level 4 or 5).

To configure a file or a folder and all the files in it to Level 3, start Microsoft Windows Explorer, and then copy or move the file or folder to the Shared Documents folder under My Computer.

Local NTFS Permissions:
• Owner: Full Control
• Administrators: Full Control
• Power Users: Change
• Restricted Users: Read
• System: Full Control
Network Share Permissions:
• Not Shared
Level 4: Shared on the Network (Read Only)
Files are shared for everyone to read on the network. All local users, including the Guest account, can read the files, but they cannot modify the contents. Any user can read and change your files.

To configure a folder and all the files in it to Level 4, follow these steps:
1. Right-click the folder, and then click Sharing and Security.
2. Click to select the Share this folder on the network check box
3. Click to clear the Allow network users to change my files check box, and then click OK.
Local NTFS Permissions:
• Owner: Full Control
• Administrators: Full Control
• System: Full Control
• Everyone: Read
Network Share Permissions:
• Everyone: Read
Level 5: Shared on the network (Read and Write)
This level is the most available and least secure access level. Any user (local or remote) can read, write, change, or delete a file in a folder shared at this access level. Microsoft recommends that this level be used only for a closed network that has a firewall configured. All local users including the Guest account can also read and modify the files.

To configure a folder and all the files in it to Level 5, follow these steps:
1. Right-click the folder, and then click Sharing and Security
2. Click to select the Share this folder on the network check box, and then click OK.
Local NTFS Permissions:
• Owner: Full Control
• Administrators: Full Control
• System: Full Control
• Everyone: Change
Network Share Permissions:
• Everyone: Full Control
Note All NTFS permissions that refer to Everyone include the Guest account.

All the levels that this article describes are mutually exclusive. Private folders (Level 1) cannot be shared unless they are no longer private. Shared folders (Level 4 and 5) cannot be made private until they are unshared.

If you create a folder in the Shared Documents folder (Level 3), share it on the network, and then permit network users to change your files (Level 5), the permissions for Level 5 are effective for the folder, the files in that folder, and the child folders. The other files and folders in the Shared Documents folder remain configured at Level 3.

Note The only exception is if you have a folder (SampleSubFolder) that is shared at Level 4 inside a folder (SampleFolder) that is shared at Level 5. Remote users have the correct access level to each of the shared folders. Locally logged-on users have writable (Level 5) permissions to the parent (SampleFolder) and child (SampleSubFolder) folders.

 









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