Previously, I wrote an article about a cool software called WiPeer that lets you connect two computers over a wireless network. This program works great for quickly sharing files between two laptops, but it requires you to install proprietary software, which is more pain for IT administrators.
If you want to share files between two desktop computers, then a better way would be to use the built-in features of Windows. In this way, if you add another computer to your network, you can easily share files with that computer too without having to install any additional software. It’s also better for corporate environments.
In this tutorial, I will walk through the simple process of setting up file sharing between two computers in Windows XP. Windows Vista has a completely different way of doing file sharing, so that is for another article.
The first step in networking two computers is to make sure that they are in the same domain or workgroup. You cannot network two Windows computer unless they have one of these in common.
To do this, right-click on My Computer and choose Properties, and click on the Computer Name tab.
As you can see, my computer is joined to a workgroup called WORKGROUP. If I want to make sure another computer can communicate with this computer, I have to make sure it is also in the workgroup called WORKGROUP. Just click the Change button in order to do this.
Once both computers are in the same domain or workgroup, you can now setup file sharing. Go to the folder that you want to share in Explorer, right-click on it and choose Properties. Now click on the Sharing tab.
Now you need to click on “If you understand the security risks but want to share files without running the wizard, click here”. Now just choose Just enable file sharing when given the two options.
The wizard will jut enable the firewall, but all SP2 and SP3 XP installs automatically have the firewall activated, so you don’t need to worry about that. Now you should see a check box called Share this folder on the network. Go ahead and check that and check the box below if you want others to be able to edit it.
Now go to another computer on the network, open My Computer, and click on My Network Places.
Now click on View workgroup computers to get a list of all the computers in the workgroup. If you can’t see any other computers in My Network Places, read my previous post for solutions.
You should see the name of the computer you setup the shared folder on. Go ahead and double-click on it and you should see the shared folder!
That’s about it! If you have any issues like “Access is denied” or “You do not have permission”, make sure that File and Printer Sharing is added as an exception in the Windows Firewall.
If you have any issues networking two computers, feel free to a post a comment and I will try to help! Enjoy!