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File Sharing with Windows XP Home Edition

Sharing files with other PCs and gaining access to files stored on company networks via Windows XP are two issues that come up all the time here at PracticallyNetworked. We'll show you how to do both. Plus, learn how to easily reset the password on the popular Linksys BEFSR41 EtherFast Cable/DSL Router.

By Ron Pacchiano

Q. I have a computer at home running Windows XP Home Edition and would like to be able to share files with other PCs in my home. A friend of mine told me that I wouldn't be able to do this without first upgrading my PC to Windows XP Professional Edition. Are there any utilities that I could use on Windows XP Home Edition that would allow me to share files? I really don't want to have to spend the extra money on Professional if I don't have to.

A. The good news is you really don't need to spend the extra money on Windows XP Professional if you're just looking to share files. Since the release of Windows XP, people have been somewhat confused about the real differences between the Home and Professional versions of Windows.

While it's true that Windows XP Home and Windows XP Professional are targeted at different audiences, the majority of their features are the same. The biggest difference between the two is that Windows XP Professional allows your computer to join a network domain. Windows XP Home users can still access files stored on a network, but when they go to access them they will be prompted to enter their network account credentials.

By default, a PC running Windows XP Home Edition will use a process called Simplified Sharing. Simplified sharing lets you easily share folders with everyone in a workgroup or on a network. Windows XP Professional, when not part of a domain, will also make use of Simplified Sharing. However, once the XP Professional computer becomes a member of a domain, it will automatically use a more advanced version of this system that will not only allow you to share drives or files with other network users, but will also control which users or groups will be able to gain access to them. In a networked environment this type of control is critical in safe guarding data.

Generally, to share data on a Windows XP machine all you need to do is open Windows Explorer and then locate the drive or folder you want to share. Right-click on the drive or folder you want to share and select Sharing and Security. Check the box that says "Share this folder on the network" and then enter the name you would like this share identified by on the network in the Share name box. If this is going to be information that other users will need to edit, then check the box "Allow network users to change my files." After that, just click OK and your network share should be available for use.

FYI: If the other PCs in your workgroup are running Windows 98 or Windows ME, a condition exists where you may experience slow browsing for file shares and printers. To avoid this problem, be sure to obtain and install Windows XP Service Pack 1, which can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/pro/downloads/servicepacks/sp1/default.asp.

For additional information on Sharing and Security issues with Windows XP you should consult the Microsoft Knowledge Base at http://support.microsoft.com/?scid=fh;[ln];kbhowto.


Q. I have a Linksys EtherFast Cable/DSL Router, model #BEFSR41. My main PC is running Windows XP, and I recently purchased an IMac. I was having some difficulty trying to get to the Internet after I had connected both systems to the router. I had wanted to check my router configuration, but for some reason the router won't recognize my password. Is their any way for me to reset the password or reconfigure the router to its factory defaults?

A. According to Linksys, the proper procedure for resetting the router back to its factory default settings is simply pressing the Reset button for 30 seconds and then releasing it. This will change the router's default password back to admin. In my experience, the reset feature, while straightforward, doesn't always take on the first try. You might need to try it a couple of times before it takes, so don't get discouraged. When done correctly, all of the lights on the router will blink in unison a few times.

For security reasons, once you have returned the router to its default configuration, I would recommend that you change the password to something a bit more secure. Remember, a proper password should be made up of both letters and numbers, and it shouldn't be a proper name like "Mark" or "Fluffy."

The procedure for changing the password can be found in the user manual. If you don't have access to the user manual, you can download it from Linksys's website at ftp://ftp.linksys.com/pdf/befsr11_befsr41ug.pdf.

To change the router's password, just follow these steps:

  1. Access the router's web interface by going to http://192.168.1.1. Enter the default password admin and then click the Password tab.
  2. Enter a different password in the Router Password field and then enter the same password in the second field.
  3. Click the Apply and Continue buttons.

Additionally, the Linksys EtherFast Cable/DSL Router is fully compatible with the IMac, so you shouldn't have too much trouble getting both your computers online. A complete guide for configuring this router under a MAC OS is available on the MacWorld website at:http://www.macworld.com/2000/12/01/howto/router.html.

Hope this helps!


Use our feedback form to submit your questions on home or SOHO networking issues. We can not guarantee to answer every question we get, but we'll consider them all



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