How to Share Files on Local Network

LANs provide a great way for computers, printers and other devices to share data with each other. Some examples include peer-to-peer (or workgroup) and client/server LANs.

Before April 2018, sharing files over a network in Windows required you to create a homegroup, which was complicated to set up and didn’t always work due to firewalls. However, Microsoft now offers easier ways to do this.

Create a Shared Folder

To share files on your local network, you first need to create a shared folder. To do this, open File Explorer and click Network in the left sidebar. This will show you a list of systems that have folders shared with them.

Select the folder you want to share and then click the arrow next to it. Choose who you want to have access to it and what kind of access you’d like them to have (either read-only or read/write).

Once you’ve set up your sharing, you can easily access the folder from any other system on the network. To do this, simply use the smb:// protocol in Windows File Explorer. This will open a window with the shared folders network path included.

You can also synchronize the folder to any other system using the Sync Center functionality built into Windows. This will require the host system to be online at all times, but it will ensure that the shared files are up-to-date when anyone else tries to access them.

Set Permissions

You can use share permissions to control access to folders shared over a network. Permission levels include Read, which allows users to list and open files but not modify or delete them; Read/Write, which grants full permissions to read, modify, create, and upload files and folders; and Full Control, which gives users the ability to take ownership of files and change their file attributes. Permissions are only applied to users who access a shared folder over the network — they don’t apply to local users who log on to your computer.

To set permissions, right-click the folder you want to share and select Properties from the context menu. Click the Sharing tab and check the box next to “Share this folder.” Click Permissions to specify the access level you want other users to have. By default, Windows grants read permission to a group called Everyone. You can also map to the folder to make it available on your computer each time you connect to the network.

Give Access

If you can’t see files and folders on your network that you shared, check for issues such as a firewall blocking access, or problems translating a computer name into an IP address. You can also use the command net view hostname> to get a list of computers on your network.

In the past, sharing files on a local network required that you attempt to set up what was known as a homegroup. This essentially attached the computer to a common network group, which allowed file sharing. However, it was complicated to set up and didn’t always work correctly due to security software and network firewalls.

The latest version of Windows 10 introduces much easier ways to share files and folders on a local network. To start, navigate to the file or folder that you want to share and right-click on it. Click Give Access and select either Specific people or Everyone nearby. When choosing Specific people, you can select who the users are and what permission level to grant them (Read Only, Read & Write or No Access). The folder will then appear in My Computer when other network users log on.

Remove Access

Before April 2018, Windows computers were able to share files and folders over the network using something called HomeGroup. Microsoft has since removed this feature, but there are simpler ways to transfer files across the local network.

One way to do this is by using a free application that allows you to share files on the network without having to set up a homegroup or change any settings on your computer. One such program is D-LAN.

D-LAN is an easy to use application that is simple to install on each computer you want to send files back and forth between. After you do that, a new pane will appear in your Finder window with all the shared folders on the network.

Once you’ve added all the folders and files that you want to share, right-click on the pane and select Give Access. Then select the users that you want to have access and choose a permission level (Read only, read/write, or full control). This will share the items with these people on the network.

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