For anyone who wanted to simply share folders between those two operating systems on a home network, I’ve read it was a headache so I’ll document what I did to accomplish the feat and hopefully it will relieve some stress some of you might be having. The process might seem long and tedious at first but do realize that the initial setup stage only needs to be done one time and so once the computers are setup for file sharing, that’s it. Let’s begin! This guide will assume that you have a simple home network consisting of one computer with the XP OS and another with the Vista OS connected together via a router/switch (Linksys, Netgear, Dlink, etc).
# Joining same workgroup
First you want to make sure that the two computers can ‘talk’ to each other. This is the base step in making everything work. In order to make the two computers see each other on the network, it requires different steps for each OS but it’s really simple. On both computers, make sure they are joined to the same workgroup. To find out your workgroup name, simple go into the Properties of My Computer and for XP, click on the Computer Name tab while for Vista, the workgroup name should show up in the Properties page without clicking anything else. If both names are the same, then leave it as is. If not, change one of them to match the other and then reboot the computer when asked.
# Firewall preparations
Now we prepare the firewall. It’s not a good idea to completely turn off your firewall but rather you’ll want to make exceptions in the rules to simply allow the programs and features that only you want to bypass the firewall. In XP, you’ll want to open up your Windows firewall and click on the Exceptions tab. You’ll want to make sure the option ‘File and Printer Sharing’ is checked.
Vista requires a few more steps. First, head over to the ‘Network and Sharing Center’ in your Control Panel. Make sure the Network Discovery and File Sharing features are turned On. In the Password Protected Sharing option, make sure you turn that feature Off. Now head over to the Firewall and make sure the same setting is checked marked to enable file sharing.
# Pinging the computers
Now we test the connection. Make sure both computers are turned on. Open a command prompt on either one and then type in “ping computername”, with computername being the other computer’s name, without the quotation marks. You can alternatively punch in the other computer’s IP address instead. If you get replies back like how you see in the picture, you’re good to go.
# Password matching (optional)
You can optionally make the user account name and password match on both computers. For example, if your account name is called ‘User1′ with a password of ‘Mypassword’ for your XP computer, then you can also make that same user account with the same settings on the Vista computer as well. The reason why you might want to do this is so you don’t always have to retype your username and password everytime you access a share on either computers. If you want to map a network drive (I’ll explain later) but have different account names or passsword, you’ll have to re-authenticate once again when you access the network drive after every logon session. If you have matching accounts, everything is authenticated automatically.
# Sharing a folder in XP
# Sharing a folder in Vista
Now we will configure a folder share in Vista. It’s pretty similar. Right click the folder, and select Share. Next hit the Advanced Sharing button and hit OK on the UAC prompt if it’s turned on. Select the ‘Share this folder’ checkbox. Give it a different share name if you want to. Hit the Permissions tab again and give the Everyone group Full Control. Hit OK.
# Browsing for the share
Now we’ll browse to the shares to see if it works. First on the XP computer, hit Start, Run. Type in \vistacomputername in that vistacomputername is the computer name of your Vista machine. If everything is correct, you should see the folder share you’ve created above. If you don’t have same accounts on each machine, you will be prompted with a dialog box prompting you to type in the username and password for an account on the Vista machine. Once done, you should see all the files inside that folder share.
On the Vista computer, do the same process except of course, type in the XP’s computer name instead with the username and password for the XP account as well. If you can view the folder, than you’re finished! That’s it! From now if you wanted to share folders between them, all you need to do is configure the folders to be shared and browse them on the other computer.
# Creating mapped network drives (optional)
If you have matching accounts on both machines, you’ll want to think about setting up mapped network drives. These are basically network folder shares but they appear as a ‘drive’ when you open up My Computer. Each network share gets their own drive letter so it will look as if you had another hard drive on your computer. This simplifies things if you constantly need access to the share on the other computer. On Vista, open up My Computer and select the ‘Map Network Drive’ option at the top. On XP, click on Tools to find the option. Give the share a drive letter of your choice. Click Browse and browse for the share on the other computer. If you have matching accounts, then this share will automatically get authenticated each and everytime you login. If not, you will have to retype the username and password when you access the mapped drive in each log on session.
Sharing folders on your home/work network is a big advantage. Rather than needing an external hard drive to transfer huge files between computers (thus wasting valuable time), you can easily just share the folders and then copy them over to the other on your home network. Hope this helps!