How to share files on your Windows network
Microsoft offers a very detailed step-by-step guide for those of you looking for an exhaustive walkthrough, but here's the short version for Windows XP users:
- click Start > Run, type control folders, and press enter
- click the View tab, and scroll down to the bottom of the list box
- place a check next to use simple file sharing and then click OK
- open My Computer and browse to a folder you want to share
- right-click the folder and choose sharing and security
- click the warning text ("If you understand the security risks...") then click Just enable file sharing
- check Share this folder on the network and give your share a name (it doesn't have to match the folder name)
- if you want to allow others to edit, delete, and add new files, check the Allow box as well
- click OK, and you're done!
Again, Microsoft offers a very thorough walkthrough of the sharing process on Windows Vista. But Vista introduced a new feature designed to make sharing a bit easier than it was in XP -- Public Folders. While they're not quite as flexible a sharing option as Windows 7 homegroups, Vista's Public Folders are easy to configure and use.
- click the Windows button and type sharing, then click Advanced sharing settings when it appears
- under Home or Work, scroll down to Public folder sharing
- click the radio button next to Turn on sharing...
- open Computer and browse to C:\Users, right-click Public, and choose properties.
- click the Security tab, then click the Edit button
- click Everyone, then uncheck Full control, Modify, and Write under Permissions for Everyone
It's always a good idea to get acquainted with the more advanced sharing options -- including password-protected sharing. If you're interested in setting up tighter controls, visit Microsoft and check out this post for Windows XP and this one for Vista.