Nigel B.'s winning answer


Sharing Printers and Files over a private network.

File and printer sharing is fairly simple and since you have a wireless network set up, you are already half-way there. The good news is, everything you need is built into Windows - all you have to do is set it up.

However there are one or two pitfalls:
- File and printer sharing needs to be turned on
- Firewall software such as Norton Internet security or ZoneAlarm need to be told not to block the connection. Don't be tempted to just turn these off as you will leave yourself open to all kinds of internet nasties.
- You need to be logged in as an administrator to be able to do some of the things described below.

Sharing, whether we're talking about printers or files, involves creation of a share on one computer, and connection to that share on another. The principle is the same for both files and printers.
When you create a share, you give it a name which is used along with the computer's name to access it. The computer likes to see the name as follows
\\computer\share - where "computer" is the name of your computer and "share" is the name of the item being shared. We'll use this below.

Firstly to share your printer:

1. On the computer to which the printer is attached, click start->settings->Printers and Faxes
2. Right-click the printer you want to share, and choose "Sharing"
3. At this point you may either see some sharing options, or a message stating that sharing needs to be turned on.
- If sharing needs to be turned on, follow the instructions headed "Turning on Sharing" below, and then come back to this point.
4. You will now see an option to share the printer. Click "Share this printer" and enter a short name in the box. Hint- I usually put in the printer's brand name or model number. Click "OK"
(ignore any message about ms-dos workstations - just click yes)
Thats it, the printer is now shared.

To connect to your printer from the other computer:

1. On your other pc, click start->settings->Printers and Faxes
2. Click File->Add printer
3. At the Welcome page, click Next
4. Choose "A network printer" rather than local
5. Now click "Connect to this printer" and in the box, enter the location of the printer in the form \\computer\share
At this point there may be a long pause followed by an error indicating that the printer cannot be found. If this happens, then something is blocking the connection. Go to the "Unblocking" section below and then return to this point.
6. The computer will ask you whether this should be your default printer. If this is your only printer, the answer should be yes.
7. Click finish to exit the wizard
You should now be able to print.

Secondly to share out your files:

1. Open Windows Explorer and choose or create a folder to share
2. Right-click the folder and choose sharing
3 Click "share this folder on the network" and enter the name you wish it to be known by. - Hint- use the same name as the folder.
4. Also click "allow network users to change my files" if you want to get full control from your other pc. Click "OK"
5. The folder is now shared

To connect to your shared folder from the other computer:

1. On your other pc, open windows explorer
2. Type in the share name in the form \\computer\share - you should now see the files
3. You may if you wish make the shared folder into a drive letter such as E:
- In windows explorer click tools, map network drive
- Select the drive letter you want to use and type in the share name in the form \\computer\share
- Click "Reconnect at logon" and click "Finish"
You should now see a new drive in windows explorer.

To share more folders and printers, just repeat the steps above. You won't have to turn on sharing or configure firewalls a second time.


Turning on Sharing

Start the network setup wizard if it isn't already running (start->control panel->network setup wizard)
- there are a number of boxes to work through here
a. "Welcome to the Network Setup Wizard" - just click next
b. "Before you continue" - just click next
c. "The wizard found disconnected network hardware" - if you see this, just click next
d. "Select a connection method" - the first option is the one you should choose if you are using a router or access point to share your internet. The second option is only for computers which get their internet via another computer.
e. Depending on the option you chose in the previous step, you may now be asked to indicate which of your network connections provide internet and which connects you to your private network. In this case the wireless network provides the internet and your local network, so choose wireless for the internet and don't choose anything for the private network.
f. Now you need to type a description for your computer; this can be anything you like. You must also supply a short name which will be used to identify the computer on the network - Hint: keep this short.
g. Finally you have to "name your workgroup". This needs to be the same on both of your computers so you can safely leave it at the default which is usually MSHOME
h. The last question asks whether you want to turn sharing on or off; obviously you want to turn it on
i. A confirmation box now shows you what the wizard is about to set up
j. You now wait while the wizard runs
k. Choose "just finish the wizard" on the next box.
l. Click Finish

Sharing is now enabled.


Unblocking local network connections

You may be running firewall software such as Norton Internet security. If you don't have any third party firewall software installed, then you are probably running the Windows XP firewall.
Either way, this software will block the connection unless it is told which connections are safe to let through. This is the case for BOTH of your computers so you will have to fix the problem on both!
What were going to do here is allow anything sent directly between your computers to pass unhindered, while still protecting you from the outside world.
Now, if you are running a third party firewall, check the Windows XP firewall because it should be turned off.
If you are not running a third party firewall, check that the XP one is turned on.
Click on Start->Settings->Control panel and click "Windows Firewall".
On the "General" tab you can either turn the firewall on or off as required.
If you leave the firewall on, click the "Exceptions" tab and then make sure that File and Printer sharing is ticked. Click OK.

You can stop at this point if you have no other firewall software. Otherwise read the next section. Im afraid I cant explain how to set up every firewall on the market I have used Norton as an example here.

A simple way to allow sharing in third party firewall software is by IP address. These addresses are generated by your wireless access point and you should be able to find out what "range" of addresses are relevant to your network by checking your access point configuration.
If you dont know the range, you could take a guess as follows:
Start->Programs->Accessories->Command prompt
Type ipconfig
Under "ip address" you will see an address which looks something like
Your address range in this case would be to - you must keep the first three numbers as shown on your screen and substitute the last number with 0 and 254 to get your range.

So by now you should have a range of addresses which you want to allow access to.
Firewall software differs but there should be a box in the configuration which allows you to specify a range. In Norton Internet Security 2004 for example, click "Personal Firewall", then "Configure", then "Networking". Then hit Add, select Using a range and type in the two addresses which describe your range. Click OK twice and then close the main window.

Now if youve just finished doing this on your first computer, go and do it again on the other. The address range will be the same.

Hopefully this will have unblocked your network and you can now get sharing.

Submitted by: Nigel B. of Liverpool, UK