Windows 7 Shared Folders

In Windows 7 similar to previous versions of  Windows Operating systems you can use shared folders to share data stored on your computer with other users on the same network. When you are not part of a domain network or cannot use Windows 7 Homegroups then you can share individual folders from Windows Explorer. If you are a command-line fan, you can use the Net Share command-line tool to share folders and manage shared folders.

To share folders from Windows Explorer, right click the folder you want to share, choose Properties and then click the Share tab of the folder’s properties as shown below:

Click the Share… button to open the File Sharing dialog box. From the File Sharing page you can set share permissions for local user accounts, the Everyone group or the Homegroup. In domain environments you can specify domain user accounts and groups. Note, you cannot specify local user groups from this dialog box and the user account used to share the folder becomes the Owner by default. Also, you can specify different access permissions such as, Read/Write, or Read only permissions. The Read/Write permission allows users to add files, delete files and modify files in the shared folder.

The Advanced Sharing… button takes you to the advanced sharing options, where you can limit the number of users who are able to access the share. This becomes handy when you need to restrict the number of users connected to a share for performance reasons. The Permissions button from the Advanced Sharing page, allows you to configure permissions for local groups, local users, domain users and groups. The advanced permissions have different names but have the same functionality as the basic File Sharing dialog box. The Change permission includes the read permission but also allows you to add files, delete files, and modify files in the shared folder which is equivalent to the Read/Write permission. The Full Control permission includes all of the Change and Read permissions plus it allows the user or group assigned that permission to modify the permissions of other users. Although, the Full Control is similar to the Owner permission, here you can have the Full Control assigned to various users and groups while in the basic sharing dialog box, only one user is assigned the Owner permission. The Deny check box denies selected permissions to the user or group. Remember, that the Deny option is the most restrictive and takes precedence over the other permissions. For example, a Deny setting overwrites/removes an Allow setting and a Deny Full Control setting overwrites the Change and Read permissions.

The Caching button on the Advanced Sharing dialog box allows you to access the Offline settings dialog box as shown below:

Offline settings determine whether programs and files in the shared folder are available to other users when the source computer is not available to the network. That is, users that previously accessed the shared folder would automatically save a copy of the files on their computers. I suggest to use this feature with caution as modified offline files would need to sync with the source computer to replicate the changes. However, if for some reason the source computer is turned on but remains offline (disconnected from the network) you end up with out-of-sync files!

The Net Share command allows for management of shared folders from the command line. To create a shared folder, from a command prompt type:

net share sharename=drive:path      ex: net share data=c:\WIN32TEST\mydata

To assign permissions to the above shared folder type:

net sharename data /grant:user Read/Change/Full      ex: Net sharename data /grant:everyone Read

To view the properties of a shared folder type:

net share sharename      ex: net share data

And to list all options of the Net Share command type:

net share /?