In this article, I am going to write a troubleshooting guide for file sharing or network issues between two computers. Unfortunately, Windows can be finicky, and even if you think everything should work, accessing a shared resource on another computer might fail.
Earlier, I wrote an article on how to network two Windows computers together and how you can connect two computers wirelessly and exchange data!
So, if you’ve read one of these two articles, but still can’t access a share on another computer on the same network, try the following troubleshooting tips!
Troubleshoot network sharing problems
1. Working group. Make sure every computer you want to access is in the same workgroup. The workgroup name must be the same on all computers. Also, be sure to use the same case for names (all upper or all lower).
In Windows 7 and later, click Start, type workgroup, and then select Change Workgroup Name. Click the Change button to change the workgroup name.
2. Home group. Windows 7 has a new feature called homegroup that automatically configures everything so you can share files between Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 10 computers.
Check out my posts on how to set up a homegroup in Windows and how to troubleshoot any problems with homegroups.
3. Sharing files and printers. Make sure file and printer sharing is enabled for the network adapter. You can enable this by going to Control Panel, Network Connections, right-clicking your network connection, choosing Properties, and making sure the File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks checkbox is checked.
On Windows 7 and later, you need to go to the Network and Sharing Center, then click “Advanced Sharing Options” and enable it there.
4. Correct subnet and IP addresses. You really shouldn’t have this problem if all your computers are connected to the same router, but it’s still worth mentioning.
Make sure the subnet mask and default gateway are the same for all computers. If they do not match, then you will have problems connecting computers to the network.
You can view this information by choosing Start, Run, typing CMD, and then typing IPCONFIG / ALL at a command prompt on each computer.
5. Check firewalls. I suggest turning off Windows Firewall on all computers first and then trying to access the shared folders. Also, don’t forget to turn off third-party firewalls like Norton or Comodo.
If you find that sharing works with your firewall turned off, be sure to add File and Printer Sharing to the exceptions list in Windows Firewall and third-party firewalls.
6. General Permissions. If you receive the message You may not have permission to use this network resource Access denied, your problem may also be that the share permissions are not set correctly.
Depending on whether you are using XP Home or XP Pro, you will need to set up sharing correctly. In XP Home, you can only share files using Simple File Sharing. It’s pretty simple because they have a wizard to guide you through the publishing process.
For XP Pro, you need to turn off Simple File Sharing and set NTFS and Sharing permissions to allow everyone access. For more information, check out my post on setting file / folder permissions, or how to share files between computers
7. Use TCP / IP – you probably shouldn’t worry about this either, but to cover all the basics, you need to make sure that all computers on the network use TCP / IP on the Internet to communicate and not IPX / SPX or NetBEUI.
You can select Start, Control Panel, Network Connections, right-click on a network connection, select Properties and see which protocol is listed.
8. Username and passwords. If you’ve completed all of the above correctly, but still can’t connect, try also making sure the usernames and passwords are the same on all computers.
It is best to have passwords for all accounts and create a new account on each computer with the same username and password. Sometimes it’s important to create a new account instead of just changing the name or password of an existing account. Make sure the accounts are administrators.
Also, it’s important to know that you won’t be able to connect to a network share if the host computer doesn’t have a password for the user account. You can turn off password protected sharing, which will remove the above requirement, but it is much less secure.
9. Computer names – Make sure the NetBIOS names are unique for all computers. NetBIOS names are only 8 characters long, so if you named the same computer JohnnyBoy1 and JohnnyBoy2, they will have the same NetBIOS name.
Make sure the first eight characters of the computer name are unique, or you will run into problems. Please note that this is only a problem with very old versions of Windows. This is not necessary for Windows 7 and later.
10. Local security policy. Another reason why you cannot access another computer on the network is due to the local security policy.
You can go to Control Panel, Administrative Tools, Local Security Policy, Local Policies, Security Settings. Now find the following policy:
Network Access: Do not allow anonymous listing of SAM accounts and shares
Make sure it is set to Disabled. Also, remember to disable only SAM Accounts and Shares, not just SAM Accounts.
11. Remove antivirus and Internet security. Finally, make sure all your antivirus programs are turned off or uninstalled to test the connection. If you have any Internet Security program such as Norton Internet Security or Kaspersky Internet Security, please disable them!
That’s all! These are all the tips I can think of for solving file sharing problems on Windows! If you still can’t access the network share, please post what you have tried so far and I will try to help. Enjoy!