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How to make Windows 7 network act like XP network?

Background: for years, I've been setting up XP networks, using simple file sharing.  A typical network would have "WS1" computer, used by one person in the office for normal work, plus it would hold the shared files--say for Quickbooks, for example.  We would typically share the root of C:, fully accessible for the other computers on the network.  Then, we might set up WS2 and WS3 to map to the C: drive of WS1 as F:.  We never had to log in at all.  All we had to do was map the connection, and it worked just fine for all three computers every day.

Fast forward to last week, as I set up a 3-computer Win 7 Pro network, again trying to use simple file sharing.  WS2 and WS3 could map to the shared C: drive of WS1 with no problem--EXCEPT that they had to log in each time either one was restarted.  Checking the box to save the credentials did not help.  The login info we used to gain access to WS1 was the Windows login name and password of WS1.  

Here is the question: is there some way to make Win 7 networking work like XP networking?  I wouldn't mind if WS2 and WS3 had to log in one time, maybe, while we're establishing the drive mapping.  But having to do it every time is, in the customers' words, "unacceptable".  I know we can set up a batch file to make this automatically log in each time, but even that was not consistent on one slow XP computer.  And, of course, we didn't have to do such workarounds with XP.

What has Microsoft done to make it this way, and/or what can I do to make it work like XP?  Could it have something to do with the UAC setting, which is set to lowest on all three Win 7 computers?  

Or, what if we set up three 'users' on WS1--rather than just the login for WS1?  In other words, if I set up a WS2 user account and a WS3 user account on WS1, would that solve the problem, because the WS1 computer would know the other computers are legit?  I hate to populate the WS1 login screen with three user names, but I think they would go for that--if that is the solution.

Or, is there something else I need to do to make Win 7 networking act like XP networking?  Are there some registry changes I can make?  

Do passwords make a difference?  All three computers have passwords.

Are there some settings I need to set and/or change in the 'Network and Sharing Center' on WS1?

SURELY there is a way to make this as easy as XP networking---I hope.  TIA

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sasllc
Asked:
sasllc
2 Solutions
 
connectexCommented:
A few things:

You should never share the system root (C: drive) of any Windows system for anything but administrative purposes. It's a very bad practice. I've been called to deal with virus infected systems due to someone else doing this. You should only share the folder(s) you need and nothing more.

My recommendation is to setup user accounts for all users on the WS1 system. The username and passwords should match those used on the other systems. This way the user authenication is automatic. But the passwords need to be kept in sync on the systems. The other option is to enable the guest account on WS1. But I'm not a fan of that myself. Why again I'm security minded. I remember having a security guard browse the internet for porn at one of my clients since we didn't have a logon password on the system.

If you haven't already done so, I'm personally not a fan of the file sharing wizard. So I recommend disabling it. Open Windows Explorer, choose Organize->Folder and search options. On the view tab, uncheck Use Sharing Wizard.


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JordanlcnCommented:
As stated by connectex that setup is a big security risk.  I just hope you always keep that in mind.

Okay now for the setup.

Assuming you don't have a domain and just a bunch of PC's/Workstations.  If not do not do these.

Are your workstations on the same workgroup?  If not please do so.  Change the default to something else other than "Workgroup".  Do it like NETONE or OFFICENET.  This is on all Workstations. Make sure that when you open Windows Explorer and in Networks you can see the Workgroup you created and the Other Workstations.

Then set your network to Home or Work in the Network Settings (Start > Control Panel > Network and Sharing Center).

Now on to WS1.  Create a new user with a general name like "PublicShare" or "Share"  and remember the password.  Note make sure this only has User Access.
Then Create a Folder you want to share and turn on Sharing just for that folder.

Then go to WS2 and WS3 and open window explorer go to Networks>(the work group you used)>WS1  once you click on the WS1 it will ask you for a user name and password.  Use the one you just created. Enter those and save password. Once this is done it will show you all the shared drives and Peripherals on WS1.  Right click on the Share Folder you created the select map network drive.

I began this post with a Security warning.    I will end it with a security warning.  This setup is very unsafe and unsecured.  Its downright dangerous.  All it takes is 1 user to access a bad website, receive a bad email, open a bad file and everything can be compromised.  Make sure you have good layers of protection.
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