How to Do File Sharing and Printer Sharing on Windows


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Vithya Uma Shankar
Vithya is a blogger, an enthusiast and currently pursuing her Masters in Computer Science. Coding is her passion and writing is her hobby. She loves learning new tips and tricks and is always on the hunt for more.

Simple file sharing is a feature in windows that enables easy sharing of files and folders with other computers connected via a local network.

It is straightforward, but very vulnerable and unsafe too. When files are shared, anyone on the network can access it.

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It doesn’t require any additional passwords or permissions to restrict access to the data.

If you are still using Windows XP home edition, then this is the only way to share files and folders.

For other versions of Windows from Window XP Professional to Windows 10, users can transfer files with much more security.

You need not have a printer connected to every computer that you own. You can also share other computer devices like printer via a network, thus reducing cost and energy consumption.

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Remember that Peer-To-Peer File Sharing is quite different from a simple file sharing. Though it looks similar and performs a similar activity, it is primarily used over the internet.

We’ll see how to turn file sharing on and off in different versions of Windows so that you can share files with a group or user permissions.

Enable & disable printer and file sharing in Windows XP and Vista

This feature can’t be disabled in Windows XP Home Edition as it is the only way to share files. For Windows XP Professional and Windows 7, we can enable and disable this feature.

There are two ways to grant or revoke this permission.

Using Control Panel

  1. Open Control Panel. Adjust the view by changing it to category.
  2. Choose Network and Internet in Vista or choose Network and Internet connections in XP.
  3. In Vista, click on Network and Sharing center and then choose Manage network connections from the left pane.

Or choose Network Connections if you are using Windows XP.

  1. Right click on the connection in which you want to enable or disable file and printer sharing and select Properties.
  2. Under the Networking tab in Vista or the General tab in XP find File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks. Check or uncheck the box based on whether you want to grant or revoke privileges.
  3. Click on OK to save the changes.

Using Folder Options

  1. Double click on My Computer to open it.
  2. From the toolbar select Tools and navigate to Folder Options.
  3. Folder Options window opens. Navigate to View tab. Scroll down the advanced settings till you see “Use simple file sharing (recommended)” option.
  4. Check or uncheck it to enable/ disable simple file sharing. Note that this enables or disables file and printer sharing privileges to all the networks.
  5. Click on Apply and then OK.

Enable & disable printer and file sharing in Windows 7, 8, 10

There are two ways to turn file sharing on and off in Windows 10. They are

Using Control Panel

  1. Open Control Panel. Adjust the view by changing it to category.
  2. Under Network and Internet, choose View network status and tasks.
  3. The Network and sharing center window opens.
  4. Click on Change advanced sharing settings.
  5. A list of all the networks used is displayed. Open the section based on which network you want to enable or disable file and printer sharing.
  6. In the network profile, find the File and Printer Sharing section. Select Turn on file and printer sharing or Turn off file and printer sharing based on whether you want to enable or disable simple file sharing.

File and printer sharing

8. Click on save changes.

Using folder options

  1. Open any folder.
  2. Expand, View tab if not already expanded and click on Options in the top right corner. Choose folder and search options in the submenu that opens.
  3. The Folder Options window opens.
  4. Navigate to View tab. Scroll down the advanced settings till you see “Use Sharing wizard (recommended)” option.
  5. Check or uncheck it to enable/ disable simple file sharing. Doing this means you are disabling file and printer sharing access to all the networks available.

File and printer sharing

6. Click on Apply and then OK.

Final thoughts

File and printer sharing provides access to folders and files to all the computers and the printers in the local and remotely connected computers.

It grants permission to read, write, or duplicate the shared files and folders.

As the name states, this type of sharing is straightforward, and this makes it vulnerable to threats and viruses.

Moreover, anyone in the network can access the files and modify them. Disabling them and provide or set rules on how users can access your files and folders.

If your computer has large files that are public over the network, disable simple file sharing.

Then determine which specific data must be transferred rather than provide all computers on the network access to your files and folders.

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