How to connect Windows XP and Windows Vista computers using Ethernet cable?

Enabling file and printer sharing from Network and Sharing Center and Windows Firewall

6. To enable file and printer sharing in Windows Vista:

  • Network location must be changed from Public to Private to make this computer able to see other computer on the network (the direct connection) and let other computer discover this computer. From Network and Sharing Center, on the Unidentified network (Public network) click "Customize" to open Set Network Location dialog. On the dialog box, choose Private, click Next, then OK. Now on the Network and Sharing Center, you can see the change to Unidentified network (Private network) that corresponds with the direct Ethernet connection.

Windows Vista: Set Network Location - change location type from Public to Private for 'Unidentified network'

Picture: Changing network location from Public to Private
in Set Network Location dialog.

  • Firewall must be configured to allow file and printer sharing. This is the default setting in Windows Firewall, but might have been changed during other network connection. Windows Firewall can be accessed from Network and Sharing Center, Control Panel, and Windows Security Center. On the Exceptions tab of Windows Firewall Settings, make sure that the box near File and Printer Sharing is selected. For other firewall software, consult the help content and search for information about opening related ports for file and printer sharing in a LAN or home network.
  • Sharing options under Sharing and Discovery in Network and Sharing Center must be configured based on what and how you want to share network resources. Turn on network discovery, file sharing, and printer sharing to allow file and printer sharing. Public folder sharing should be turned on only if you want to share files stored in Public folder to other network users. Password protected sharing should be turned on if you want to limit access to your files to only authorized users of your Windows Vista PC, so one has to have user accounts to access your files/printers. Meanwhile, media sharing if enabled allows the sharing of all multimedia files on your computer, i.e. music, video, audio clip.
  • In Windows Explorer, configure individual file or folder for sharing. This is done by right clicking file or folder name and select Share.... On the File Sharing dialog, you can choose the people (users of this computer) that you want to share the concerned file/folder with.

In Windows XP (SP2/SP3), configure your firewall to enable file and printer sharing. This should be the default setting in Windows Firewall, but it might have been changed by some previous network connections. Windows Firewall can be opened directly from Control Panel or by highlighting the connected Ethernet adapter icon in Network Connections and selecting "change Windows Firewall Settings" on the Network Tasks pane. On the Exceptions tab, select File and Printer Sharing checkbox then click OK. To enable sharing for individual folder, in Windows Explorer right-click the folder name and select Sharing and Security... on the drop-down menu.

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