If you work in any kind of environment where there are multiple users, chances are you will need to share one or more folders with your colleagues. For many administrators, this is a very simple task. For some, however, this task seems to be rather elusive. And what happens when you want to give your end users the ability to share the necessary folders to everyone? Are you going to walk through the sometimes complicated task of folder sharing? Or what about training your junior admins on the art of folder sharing?

For those end users (or even for some administrators with less knowledge of such tasks), there is a very easy-to-use Microsoft Windows Wizard for sharing folders. This wizard is the Shared Folder Wizard, and it is included in Windows XP Pro, Vista, and Windows 7. This wizard makes the process of sharing folders incredibly easy — for any level of user.

In this How Do I blog post, I will walk you through a very simple wizard that will, in turn, allow you to show your end users (or junior admins) a fast and easy way to share folders (or just make your job a little bit easier). In the end, regardless of your reasons for using this wizard, folder sharing will be made all the more easy.

This blog post is also available as a TechRepublic Photo Gallery and TechRepublic download.

Step 1: Open the Wizard

Open Shared Folder Wizard by opening the Run dialog box and then typing shrpubw.exe in the resulting window. Or you could click Start | Run and then enter shrpubw.exe in the Run dialog box. In Windows 7, you can simply type shrpubw in the Search box and press [Enter].

Step 2: Click through the welcome page

If you need to learn more about your Windows firewall, you can click the link. Otherwise click Next to continue, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A

This is your standard Welcome screen, where you simply click Next to get to the real work.

Step 3: Set up your folder

In this step, you are going to name your share. You also can name (or rename) your PC. You should probably leave your computer name as is, since changing this here could cause conflicts with your computer name as defined by the system. You will need to set up the folder to be shared by clicking the Browse button (Figure B). Once the new window opens, navigate to the folder you want to share and click OK and then click Next.

Figure B

If you want to share a new folder, you can click the Make New Folder button in the navigation window that appears.

Step 4: Naming your share

In the next window (Figure C), you need to first give your share a name and (optionally) a description. The share path is already configured from the previous screen.

Figure C

The description will be an informative description so that users know what is in the folder.

Step 5: Offline settings

In this same window (Figure D), you can click the Change button to make changes to the offline settings. This allows you to give offline access to users.

Figure D

If you do use the last option, you might want to check Optimize for Performance or you will experience a noticeable hit on performance should the offline sync occur at the wrong time or a user need a large amount of files/folders to be synchronized.

A note on offline storage — this can be a potential security issue when secure files are cached on a nonsecure machine. Please make sure you enable this option with care. Once you have finished with this, click Next to continue.

Step 6: Permissions

In the next window, you set up permissions for users. You have four options (Figure E):

  • All users have read-only access,
  • Administrators have full access; other users have read-only access,
  • Administrators have full access; other users have no access, or
  • Customize permissions

Figure E

In order to give all users read/write access, you will have to use Custom.

When you’ve established permissions how you want them, click Finish.

Step 7: Complete the share

In the last screen (Figure F), you have the option to complete this share and/or start over to set up another share.

Figure F

If you do not need to set up another share, just click Finish and the share will immediately be available to all users.

Final thoughts

You should now have a shared folder ready for your other users to access. I’m always surprised that this tool is more readily accessible by the user. But even though Microsoft has seen to it to obfuscate this tool from the user, it is still readily available to make sharing folders as easy as just about any other task in Windows.

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