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Windows cannot access shared folder
As users become more and more mobile, you often have to manage devices that are not members of your Active Directory domain. The remote management of standalone PCs can sometimes be tricky because various security barriers prevent remote access to Windows 8. In this little series about managing workgroup computers, I will cover the most frequent stumbling blocks: sharing files, accessing the Registry remotely, and enabling Remote Desktop. Note that things are similar in Windows 7 and Windows Vista; however, the screenshots are from Windows 8.
Private (Home, Work) and Public (Guest) network
If you need access to some files on a remote computer, you only have to enable file sharing. This isn’t as easy as it should be. Whenever you connect to a new network, Windows will ask you this question:
Do you want to turn on sharing between PCs and connect to devices on this network?
If you click “Yes, turn on sharing and connect to devices” Windows will apply the file sharing settings for the Private network location type. If you reply with “No, don’t turn on sharing or connect to devices,” the configuration of your Public network settings will be used.
Do you want to turn on sharing between PCs and connect to devices on this network
Notice that Windows will store the settings for this network. If you want Windows to forget this configuration, right-click the symbol for this network and select “Forget this network.” If sharing is enabled, Windows will automatically open the corresponding Firewall ports.
Forget this network
You can check the settings for Private and Public networks in the Network and Sharing Center. The fastest way to access the Network and Sharing Center is to right-click the network symbol in the systray. To access the sharing settings, click “Change advanced sharing settings” in the left sidebar. Behind the active network profile (Public or Private), you will see “(current profile)”.
Change sharing options for different network profiles
In Windows 7, three location types exist: Home, Work, and Public. In Windows 8, Home and Work were united in a label called Private.
If you play a little with these settings, you will notice that Windows 8 will “lie” to you sometimes when you establish a networking connection. The “Yes, turn on sharing and connect to devices” is only true if “Turn on file and printer sharing” is enabled in the Private network settings and “No, don’t turn on sharing or connect to devices” is only correct if “Turn off file and printer sharing” is enabled in the Guest or Public network settings.
You can switch between the Public and Private settings by right-clicking the symbol of the access point and then selecting “Turn sharing on and off”. Again, this message is incorrect. Correct would be “Switch between Public and Private network location type settings.” Changing the sharing settings works with WiFi and cable connections. For some reason (a bug?), changing the location type only works if the computer is connected to an identified network.
Turn sharing on or off
Private and Public profiles for unidentified networks
Sometimes Windows is unable to identify the network switch or router. You will face this problem especially if you play with network location types in a virtual environment (for instance, VirtualBox).
By default, if your computer is connected to an unidentified network, the location type is set to Public. This behavior can be changed through a Local Security Policy. In the Control Panel, type “Admin…” and then click “Administrative Tools.” Open the Local Security Policy editor and navigate to “Network List Manager Policies.” There, you can set the location type for unidentified networks.
Unidentified Networks Policy
You can also configure if users are allowed to change the network type or not. This didn’t work in my test, however.
In the next post of this series I will discus Public Folder sharing, network discovery, and password-protected sharing.