Tip: Best Practices for File Sharing in a Workgroup Environment

In a home office or other workgroup environment, best practices for sharing files on Windows Vista computers include the following:

  • Enable sharing on your Public folder to share files with other users on the network when all users should have the same level of access to these files. Then drag your files and folders into Public to share them easily.
  • Share files from within your user profile when you want to have greater control over who can see and access shared files on the network. Windows Vista’s Access-Based Enumeration technology means that users can see only the shared files for which they have a minimum of Read permission—if they don’t have Read permission, they won’t even know the file is shared.
  • If you share files from within your user profile, share them from the appropriate folder: Share documents from within your Documents folder, share music from within your Music folder, and so on.
  • If you share a file or folder, e-mail or otherwise communicate the UNC path to your share to network users whom you want to be able to access the share. Otherwise, users will have to browse the network using Windows Explorer to find any new shares present on the network.
  • Make sure Network Discovery is turned on for all Windows Vista computers on your network. Network Discovery makes browsing for shared resources faster and more reliable.
  • Make sure if you are setting up a work workgroup or a home network that your network type is a private network. This will allow you to enable things such as discovery and sharing on this network, but when you pick up your laptop and take it to a wireless hotspot, the computer will be less exposed, because your network type will switch to the public profile, which won’t have services such as discovery and sharing turned on. Additionally, the Windows Firewall exceptions will apply only to your private network, blocking incoming requests when connected to public networks.

**Note:**If you don’t want your user profile folder visible from the network, don’t share any files from within your profile. Sharing a file from within your profile automatically causes the %SystemDrive%\Users folder to be shared on the computer, and this means that other users on the network will be able to see your user profile folder on the computer. Of course, they won’t be able to look inside your profile folder unless they somehow have administrator credentials on the computer. But simply knowing the names of profile folders on the computer can give malicious users knowledge that can help them footprint your network, because these folder names correspond to logon names for users either on the computer or on the network.

From the Microsoft Press book Windows Vista Resource Kit, Second Edition.

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