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Lots of options, which will be easiest?

Posted on 2004-09-06
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Last Modified: 2010-03-18
Let's put it this way: I'm a networking n00b, and the following problem is making my head spin.

I have a desktop screamer and a fast laptop.
I have a wired AND a wireless network throughout my house.  
I also have a six week-old daughter.  

I'm really, really tired of having to sync up my laptop to be able to keep certain files common between my two machines, and my new reality at home dictates that I be able to work from anywhere in my house.

Here's the software at my disposal: Win XP Pro, Win NT 4 Server, and Windows Server 2003 (the 6 month trial edition).

Here's what I want to do: I want to turn the desktop machine into a file server, that I can also use as a client in the event I ever get to sit down at my desk again.  I want my laptop to be able to access files on my desktop machine (like entire folders), but only the folders that I have permission to access.  And I want that permission to be limited to ME, not to random folks in my house.

I don't need to have a network that is the envy of IBM, I just need to set up some network directories that I can only access under certain circumstances (like the right username and password, or whatever).

What's the EASIEST way to do this?  Is it possible just with XP?  Will NT handle it?  Or do I need to pay for W2k3 6 months from now?

Additionally - can someone point me to a link, or give me the step-by-step instructions for what I'll need to do to set up both the server and the client machines?  Talk to me like I'm seven - because this networking stuff makes my head spin.
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Question by:neilhedley
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LVL 104

Assisted Solution

by:Sembee
Sembee earned 2000 total points
ID: 11991533
In this particualr case using either of the server products is over the top. As you have Windows XP I would do some basic file sharing using that instead.

1. Check that the drives on the Windows XP Pro machine are NTFS. If not use the convert command to change them to NTFS.
2. Setup username/password combinations on both machines that match. You will need to remember to keep them in sync.
3. Configure the workgroup settings (right click on My Computer and choose Properties, then Computer Name) so that they are the same name.
4. Disable "Simple File Sharing" (Tools, Options, View - scroll right to the bottom).
6. Share out the required folders - creating new ones if required.
7. Adjust the permissions on the folders themselves - not the share. Thus change the share premissions to "Everyone" Full Control. then click on the "Security tab" to change the permissions on the folder.

Once configured, map network drives on the second machine using the Tools, Map Network Drive command to the shares on the "server". Tick the box to ensure they are mapped next time.

If you wish, configure the folders to be available offline from the laptop and then you will have a copy on the laptop as well.

Simon.
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Author Comment

by:neilhedley
ID: 11991623
Simon, if I read you right, this could be frighteningly simple.  My only question is what is the 2nd half of Step 7?

I know that it will probably be intuitive once I set it up, but I want to make sure I can't possibly screw it up.  What do I set the permissions on the FOLDER to?

Also - am I correct in assuming that the folders will only be visible to the laptop user with the same name?

How hard would it then be to access those folders?  I know I didn't mention that in the original question, it occurred to me afterward that I might want to access it remotely someday...and I promise that's the only functionality I'll ever need.
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Author Comment

by:neilhedley
ID: 11991687
I have added an extra 250 points to the question; the first 250 will go to Sembee, because this answer was correct for the first version of the question; the extra 250 is effectively "up for grabs".
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LVL 104

Expert Comment

by:Sembee
ID: 11991704
File and Printer sharing itself is very simple to do at this level. It is only when you scale it up past 3 or 4 users that things get complex and a domain becomes something to look at seriously. A workstation OS (Windows XP for example) will support up to 10 concurrent connections, so one machine you will be fine.

You will set the permissions by removing everyone (which are the default) and adding your specific username with whatever permissions you require - full control is probably what you are considering.

"...am I correct in assuming that the folders will only be visible to the laptop user with the same name?"
Unfortuantely not. Windows isn't that clever. It is a requested feature but hasn't appeared yet.
The reason I told you to use the same username and password on both machines was for pass through authentication. This will stop a constant request for username and password prompts as Windows by default uses the current username and password when it gets a prompt.

As for accessing them - as long as you are on your network then you can access them fine. Remote access is a bit more complicated - you might have to start looking at the VPN features within Windows.

Simon.
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Author Comment

by:neilhedley
ID: 11991775
Is it possible to set up a VPN tunnel between two machines running WinXP?  I was under the impression that it wasn't, hence my messing around looking at WS2k3.
If it is, I'd love similar step by step to what you offered above.
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LVL 104

Accepted Solution

by:
Sembee earned 2000 total points
ID: 11991855
It is possible for Windows XP to be a VPN server (ie except incoming requests).
However rather than type everything out, let me point you to a site which documents the entire process.

http://www.onecomputerguy.com/networking/xp_vpn_server.htm

Pay careful note to the bit at the end about ports - you will have to adjust your router to allow the incoming connection.

Simon.
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Author Comment

by:neilhedley
ID: 11991868
Primo.  Thank you.
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