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Windows 7 - How to Share Files Over a Network

Sharing files over a local area network (LAN) is easy in Windows 7. You can also use the new HomeGroup feature to easily share files, folders and network printers and other devices between machines running Windows 7. The following guide, however, explains only how to share a particular file or folder over the network. Once you've enabled file and printer sharing, you'll be able to access the remote files whenever the remote computer is turned on. You can even map a network drive to it so that it the remote location always appears alongside other drives connected to your computer in Windows Explorer.

1 - Change Sharing Settings
By default, file and printer sharing is disabled in Windows 7 for security reasons. Generally, you should only enable it on home or office networks rather than public networks such as those in Internet cafes or other public places offering wireless Internet.

Open the control panel from the start menu and click "Network and Internet." Continue to "Network and Sharing Center." In the left-hand side of the window, click "Change advanced sharing settings."

On the next page, you'll see two profiles. You should only need to change the settings for the "Home or Work Profile."

Enable network discovery, file and printer sharing and public folder sharing. It is also recommended that you enable password-protected sharing. Click "Save Changes" when you're done.

Repeat the above for each computer on your network.

2 - Sharing a Specific Folder or Drive
Go to the computer containing the folders that you want to share across the network. In Windows Explorer, navigate to the folder, right-click on it and select "Properties." Click the "Sharing" tab.

Click "Share." From the drop-down box, choose "Everyone" or "HomeGroup" and click "Share." The folder will now be accessible to anyone connected to your network.

3 - Accessing the Shared Folder or Drive
To access the shared folder from another computer, open you start menu and click "Computer." In the left-hand side of the window, click "Network." You'll see a list of devices and computers connected to the network. Double-click on the computer containing the shared folders. You'll see any shared folders in the next window. You can then make the shared folder easier to access by right-clicking on it and selecting "Map network drive." Choose a drive letter and click "Finish."


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