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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Windows 7 File Sharing Essentials

You can share files and folders in several different ways. Windows provides two methods for sharing files from your computer, you can share files from any folder on your computer, or from the Public folder. Which method you use depends on where you want to store the shared folders, who you want to share them with, and how much control you want to have over the files. Either method allows you to share files or folders with someone using your computer or another computer on the same network.

Which sharing method to use
There are several factors to consider when deciding whether to share files from any folder or from the Public folder.

Use any folder for sharing if:

  • You prefer to share folders directly from the location where they are stored (typically in your Documents, Pictures, or Music folders) and want to avoid storing them in your Public folder.

  • You want to be able to able to set sharing permissions for individuals rather than everyone on your network, giving some people more or less access (or no access at all).

  • You share a lot of digital pictures, music, or other large files that would be cumbersome to copy to a separate shared folder. You might not want these files taking up space in two different locations on your computer.

  • You frequently create new files or update files that you want to share and don't want to bother copying them to your Public folder.

Use the Public folder for sharing if:

  • You prefer the simplicity of sharing your files and folders from a single location on your computer.

  • You want to be able to quickly see everything you have shared with others, just by looking in your Public folder.

  • You want everything you are sharing kept separate from your own Documents, Music, and Pictures folders.

  • You want to set sharing permissions for everyone on your network and don't need to set sharing permissions for

  • You want all users of your computer to have access to the files without getting involved in network settings.

Share files from any folder on your computer
Follow these steps to share files from their current location without copying them to another location. Using this method, you can choose the people with whom you want to share files, regardless of whether they use this computer or another computer on the network.

Locate the folder with the files you want to share.

Click one or more files or folders that you want to share, and then, on the toolbar, click Share.

In the File Sharing dialog box, do one of the following:

  • Type the name of the person you want to share files with, and then click Add.

  • Click the arrow to the right of the text box, click the person's name in the list, and then click Add.

  • If you don't see the name of the person you want to share files with in the list, click the arrow to the right of the text box, and then click "Create a new user" to create a new user account so that you can share files with the person using this account.

The name of the person or group that you selected appears in the list of people you want to share files with.

  • Note: If password protection is turned on for your computer, the person you are sharing with must have a user account and password on your computer in order to access the files and folders you are sharing. You can turn password protection on or off in the Network and Sharing Center.

Under Permission Level, click the arrow next to each person or group and select sharing permissions:

  • A Reader can view shared files, but not add, alter, or delete them.

  • A Contributor can view or add shared files, but can only alter or delete files he or she has contributed.

  • A Co-owner can view, add, alter or delete any shared file.

  • Note: If you are sharing a file instead of a folder, there is no option to set the permission level to Contributor.

When you are finished choosing the people or groups you want to share files with, click Share. If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

After you receive confirmation that your folder is shared, you should send a link to your shared files to the people you are sharing them with, so they know the files are shared and how to access them. Do one of the following:

  • Click e-mail to automatically open a Windows Mail e-mail message containing the link to your shared files.

  • Click copy to automatically copy the link displayed on this screen to the Windows Clipboard. Then open a new e-mail message and paste the link into the message.

  • Manually copy and paste the link displayed on this screen into an e-mail message. Right-click the link and click Copy Link. Then open a new e-mail message and paste the link into the message. You might want to do this if you don't use Windows Mail as your e-mail program.

  • Note: If you change the name of a file or folder after you have shared it with someone, the previous link you sent them will not work. You should send them a link to the new location instead. An easy way to get this link is to share the file or folder by following the preceding steps.

If you don't want to send an e-mail message to the person you are sharing files with, click Done. They won't be able to find the shared files, however, until you give them the network location of the files.

Share files from the Public folder
When you share files from the Public folder, you don't share them with specific people. Anyone with a user account on this computer can access the Public folder, but you decide whether to allow access to people on your network. You can only grant access to everyone or no one on the network.

You can also turn on password-protected sharing. This limits network access to the Public folder to only those people with a user account and password on your computer. By default, network access to the Public folder is turned off unless you enable it.

To share files from the public folder:

  • Copy or move whichever files you want to share to the Public folder or one of its subfolders, such as Public Documents or Public Music.

Your files in the Public folder are now shared with anyone who has access to the Public folder.

What are permissions?

Permissions are rules associated with objects on a computer or network, such as files and folders. Permissions determine if you can access an object and what you can do with it. For example, you might have access to a document on a shared folder on a network but only be able to read the document and not make changes to it. System administrators and users with administrator accounts on computers can assign permissions to individual users or groups.

The following table lists the permission levels that are typically available for files and folders.

Permission level: Description:
Full controlUsers can see the contents of a file or folder, change existing
files and folders, create new files and folders, and run programs in a folder.
ModifyUsers can change existing files and folders but cannot create
new ones.
Read & executeUsers can see the contents of existing files and folders and
can run programs in a folder.
ReadUsers can see the contents of a folder and open files and
WriteUsers can create new files and folders and make changes to
existing files and folders.


  • You can't restrict access to some individual files and folders within the Public Folder but allow access to other files and folders there. If users have access to the Public folder, they will have access to everything in it.

  • Security permissions can only be viewed or set from Safe Mode under Windows XP Home.

  • You may need to disable "Simple File Sharing" in the file options to access security from the file properties menus.

  • When you share files and folders with people using other computers, they can open and view those files and folders just as if they were stored on their own computers. Any changes you allow them to make to a shared file or folder will change the file or folder on your computer. However, you can restrict people to just viewing your shared files, without the ability to change them.

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