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Sharing folders in My Documents

In this example, we cover the situation where you need to consider NTFS permissions as well as share permissions.

The situation described here will only occur if either of the following conditions is true:

  • You created the user accounts as Limited accounts;
  • You've previously used Simple File Sharing to mark My Documents as Private.

In either of these cases, you'll run into NTFS permission problems. However, if you created the user accounts as Administrator accounts, and the My Documents folder has not been marked as Private, then no further action is necessary, since Administrators have NTFS access to default (non-Private) My Documents folders.

We're logged on to the XP machine as Ron and wish to share the My Documents folder across the network to the girls, Iona and Catriona.

I use Windows Explorer, browse to My Documents, right-click, and look for Sharing and Security.  It's missing!  Presumably, you're only expected to share sub-folders of My Documents. The option is present on My Music, My Pictures etc.

If you really want to share the whole My Documents folder, you still can: right-click it and select Properties to see the Sharing and Security tabs.

We give it a share name (names containing blanks can cause problems, so we've made it My-Documents).  In the Permissions button, we add Iona and Catriona with Read and Change permission, and remove everyone, as before.

Now to test it!

  • We log on to a client PC as Iona.
  • We can browse Network Neighbourhood.
  • We can browse the XP computer;
  • We have access to Girlstuff, as expected.
  • We have Access Denied to Boystuff, as expected.

But when we try to access My-Documents, we get an error message!

What happened?  We gave Iona permissions to access the share, so why was she was not allowed?

Remember about network user having to get past both gatekeepers? Well, Iona got past the share permissions level, only to be blocked at the NTFS permissions level.

Remember also that XP Professional sets up NTFS permissions on the My Documents folder and that we created the users as Limited accounts, not Administrator accounts.

Let's go back and fix it.  We use Windows Explorer, browse to My Documents, right-click it, and select Properties.  This time, we choose the Security tab.  Notice how ONLY Administrators and the Owner have any permissions!

To fix this issue, we need to either:

  • Change the user accounts to Administrator accounts. This will add the user to the Administrator group and resolve the issue. Notice that this will not work if we've previously used Simple File Sharing to mark My Documents as Private. If you refer to the matrix in the Microsoft Knowledge Base article Description of File Sharing and Permissions in Windows XP, you'll see that this removes Administrator' from the NTFS permissions.
  • Change the NTFS permissions to explicitly permit the desired users or groups.

_x0000_i1063Let's take the second approach.  Use the Add button to add the users or groups that should have access to the shared folder.  We could choose to add the group USERS, or we could add individual users.  In this case, we'll add just the individual users Iona and Catriona, and we need to explicitly add Write permission.

Now, when Iona tries to gain access to the share across network, there's no problem:

That concludes our fairly exhaustive tour of XP Professional sharing and NTFS security.

XP Pro File Sharing
1. Disable Simple File Sharing
2. Create User Accounts
3. User Account Passwords
4. Create User Groups
5. Create Shares
6. Access Control Lists
7. NTFS Permissions
8. Connecting from Clients
9. Sharing My Documents
10. Q & A
11. Troubleshooting
Read Entire Article
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