Sharing files between 2 or more computers is called networking. Once file sharing is set up, you’ll be able to browse your files, work on them, or move them to or from any computer on the network.
In this way, you’re sharing the files between computers. It’s not difficult to do, but there are a few stages to go through.
I’ll show you the easiest, step by step method to get up and running with sharing files across a network.
- Set Up File Sharing Between Computers – Name That PC.
- Network Status – Private Or Public.
- Network And Sharing Centre – File Sharing.
- Sharing Files/Folders.
- Accessing Your Shared Files/Folders.
- File Sharing Problems.
Set Up File Sharing Between Computers – Name That PC.
To get started with setting up file sharing, the very first thing you need to do is name all the computers you’re connecting up. Try to give them names that are easy to remember and easy to type.
Every machine must have a different name. It doesn’t have to be wildly different, but just different.
So calling one computer “desktop” and another “desktop1” is fine. They’re different enough.
Click the START button, and then type
about your pc
You’ll see ABOUT YOUR PC (system settings) appear at the top of the list.
Left-click on ABOUT YOUR PC.
On the About page, you can see the computer’s current name (red box).
We need to give the PC a better name than that. We’ll never be able to remember that one.
In order to start file sharing, we’ll have to type this name. So we’re going to want something easy to remember.
Click the RENAME THIS PC button.
Type in a new, memorable, easy to type, name for your computer.
You can only use letters, numbers and hyphens.
No spaces. Don’t press the space bar to separate words.
Don’t use, spaces, comma’s, dots, question marks, slashes etc.
The only keys on your keyboard that you should use are letters, numbers and hyphens.
Once you’ve typed in a name for your PC, click the NEXT button. Then your computer will need to re-start. So click the RE-START button.
While your PC re-starts, run round all the other computers that you want to share files with and re-name those in the same way, and re-start them.
Network Status – Private Or Public.
Once you’ve named all your computers, the next stage is to make sure that all the computers are on a PRIVATE network.
You’d be surprised how many people accidentally set their home networks with the Public setting.
Not sure what I’m talking about? I’ll show you..
Click the START button again, and this time, type
Click on NETWORK STATUS (system settings). It’ll probably be at the top of the list.
Check your Network Status.
Make sure it says PRIVATE NETWORK.
It doesn’t matter if it’s ethernet or wifi, but it must be a Private Network.
You’ll need to check all your other computers as well.
We need them all to be on a Private Network in order to share files between them.
If you find one of your PC’s Network Status says PUBLIC NETWORK, we need to change it to a private network.
Click the PROPERTIES button.
The Network Profile page opens.
Select Private Network by clicking in the radio button beside PRIVATE.
There’s no Save button or Apply button to click.
Once you’ve selected Private, close the window and re-start the computer.
Technically, I don’t think you actually need to do a re-start here, but I find that it just works better.
When setting up file sharing between computers, I find that making a re-start after each change in the settings helps things to go through smoother. It’s time-consuming, I know, but I think it’s worth it.
Network And Sharing Centre – File Sharing.
With all the computers that you wish to share files with on a Private Network, the next stage is setting the File Sharing Options.
Click the START button and then type
advanced sharing settings
Click MANAGE ADVANCED SHARING SETTINGS (control panel).
In the Private (current profile) section, select (if it’s not already) “Turn on network discovery” and also “Turn on automatic setup of network-connected devices”
Next, make sure “Turn on file and printer sharing” is also selected.
With that done, click the arrowhead to open the ALL NETWORKS section, if it’s not already open.
In the All Networks section, scroll down to the bottom and then select “Turn off password protected sharing”.
With that done, click the SAVE CHANGES button and restart your PC.
While this machine re-starts, run round all the other computers that you’re sharing files with and do exactly the same.
It’s important that all the computers your sharing with have the same settings. And it’s so easy to forget a step, especially if you’re trying to set up several PCs at the same time. So do each stage on every computer, before moving to the next stage.
You can share individual files over your network, but I think, in a home setting, it’s easier to simply share the folder that the files are in.
So decide which folders you want to share on the network. All the files and folders within a shared folder will be included in the share. You can share the same folders on each computer, but you certainly don’t have to.
For example, on my desktop machine, I’ll share my Desktop folder and my Music folder. But on my laptop, I’ll share my Desktop folder, Documents folder and Pictures folder.
You can obviously share any combination of folders that you choose.
To Share A Folder
Open File Explorer to access your folders.
File Explorer is the yellow folder on your Taskbar, or if it’s not there, click the START button and then type file explorer, or you can simply press the Windows key and the letter E on your keyboard.
As an example, I’m going to set up my Desktop folder for file sharing.
In File Explorer, find the folder you want to share, then right-click on it.
The Options menu will open.
You have to do this for every folder that you wish to share on the network.
The Folder Properties box will open. Click the SHARING tab. Then on the Sharing tab, click the SHARE button.
On the next page, click the drop-down arrow.
On the menu that opens, click EVERYONE.
Then click the ADD button.
This is a step that often gets overlooked.
In order to easily share files, we need to Add Everyone to the list.
When EVERYONE has been added to the list, look at the right-hand column. Permission level.
Click the drop-down arrow and then click READ/WRITE.
This will give you permission to edit, copy, and/or delete any of your shared files.
Finally, click the share button.
If the folder has been shared previously, you’ll see this window appear.
Click the CHANGE SETTINGS button. That’ll set the folder share options to what we want it to be.
Finally, click the DONE button and then close the Properties window for the folder you’re working on.
You now need to do the same thing for all the other folders on this computer that you want to share over your network.
You don’t need to share every folder, just the ones you want to be able to access from another computer.
So in my example, on this machine, I’ll need to share my Music folder next.
Once that’s done, restart your computer, and while it re=starts, go and share the folders on your other machines.
Accessing Your Shared Files/Folders.
Now that we’ve got all our computers set up for file sharing, it’s time to set up access to them.
This is where the real magic happens.
In this example, I’m working on my desktop computer, I’m sat at my desktop computer, and trying to access the shared files and folders on my laptop which I named “redlaptop”.
Open File Explorer again.
In the left-hand panel, click NETWORK.
You might have to scroll down a little to find it.
On the Network page, you might see a progress bar moving across the address bar at the top of the window.
Let it run right across. It might take a minute or two. But let it finish.
Once the progress bar is out of the way, left-click once into the address bar.
Just a single left click.
Everything inside the bar will become highlighted.
With everything in the address bar highlighted, type 2 backslashes.
Then type the name of the computer you’re trying to connect to. Don’t type a space between the backslashes and the computer name.
So in my example, I’m on my desktop computer and I’m trying to access my laptop. My laptop’s name is “redlaptop”. So I’d type
You would obviously replace redlaptop with the name of the computer you’re trying to connect to.
Once you’ve typed the 2 backslashes and the name of the computer you’re trying to connect to, press the ENTER key on your keyboard.
If all goes well, you should now be looking at something like this.
In the address bar, you should see your computer’s name. In my case, it’s “redlaptop”.
Double left-click on the USERS folder to open it.
On the next window, you’ll be able to see your user account folder from the computer you’re connecting to.
Right-click on your account folder.
On the menu that appears, left-click CREATE SHORTCUT.
Windows uses user accounts to keep your files separate from other users of the computer. For more info about the different types of user accounts, and creating accounts click Windows User Accounts
You’ll see a pop-up window.
“Windows can’t create a shortcut here etc.”
Click the YES button.
Close any open windows to return to your Desktop.
You should be able to find the Shortcut you just created.
Double left-click it to open it.
When it opens, you’ll be able to see the folders that you chose to share on the other computer.
So in my example, I’m working on my desktop machine, but these files/folders are the ones I shared on my laptop.
I can now access, or share, any of the files that are on my laptop from my desktop computer. Job done.
All I need to do now is get onto my laptop and repeat the process so that I can access my desktop computer files from my laptop.
File Sharing Problems.
Trying to set up file sharing between your computers should be easy and straightforward. And following this guide, most of you will breeze it.
But there can be problems, so here are the two most common issues that you might run into.
Windows Cannot Access.
This is the first problem you might see. Windows cannot access etc.
Double-check all the settings we’ve done above. Go through the stages on each computer carefully, making sure you didn’t miss anything out.
Make sure the PC you’re trying to connect to is turned on and hasn’t gone into sleep/hibernation mode. Make sure it’s connected to the network.
Double-check the computer name, double-check your typing/spelling. Try disabling any firewalls on the target computer. One of these will usually solve the problem.
Windows Security – Enter Network Credentials.
Sometimes when you’re trying to connect to another computer that you’ve set up file sharing on, you’ll get the dreaded Windows Security “Enter Network Credentials” box appear.
What it’s asking for is the log on details of the OTHER computer. The one you’re trying to connect to.
Not the one you’re currently using.
So in my example, I’m working at my desktop computer and trying to connect to my laptop over my network.
When the Enter Network Credentials box shows up.
What I need to enter is the log on details of my laptop. That’s the machine I’m trying to connect to.
The log on details are my User Account Name and password if I’ve set one.
To be clear, it’s the user name and password of the computer you’re trying to connect to.
Enter the username and password. If you don’t have a password on your account, leave this box blank.
Put a tick in the Remember My Credentials box and click the OK button.
Share Files Between Computers – Summary
Windows doesn’t handle files sharing over home networks well. It can be difficult and frustrating to set it up. But if you follow these steps you should be able to do it successfully.
Once file sharing is set up though, it really is worth the effort. Settling down in your favourite chair with your laptop to edit a file that’s stored on your Desktop PC is a joy.
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