Thinking From the Box

WinXP Ruins Useful File Sharing

Mark Lim - 2002.09.16, updated 2002.09.24

We received the following email (slightly edited) at Low End Mac headquarters and thought it deserved attention from the broader Windows community, so we're posting it here on Low End PC.

Hi Dan,

Just to share my findings with you. Hope that you can mention this to other readers as well.

Reference: Microsoft Knowledge Base Article - Q304040

Title: Description of File Sharing and Permissions in Windows XP


Windows XP (Home and Pro*) can no longer share folders selectively over a SOHO network with a password. It has been replaced with "Simple File Sharing" where all users logon as GUEST. Read and Write rights are global to all users.

* as noted below, the pro edition does allow users to turn off simlified file sharing, but it is on be default. ed

When I discovered this, I said to myself, "My God, what are these people doing? Windows 98 - even 95 - can do simple sharing better!" Simply put, M$ took out the feature to share resources with a password. It was a excellent way to share files over a small peer-to-peer network.

MYOB, an accounting program, uses password-protected share because only accounting staff needs access. It is disastrous to run that on WinXP now - someone may delete or bring home a copy "by accident."

What it really means:

M$ wants network users to BUY M$ servers! With servers, you can selectively share files.


My work requires me to administer Windows PCs, and I have enjoyed this field since the 90s. 95% of my users are on Win98; if they have switched to Macs I'd be out of a job. I have switched to a Mac recently. :-) I am outsourced MIS support and a systems integrator.

PS: I really enjoyed and keep up to excellent articles!

Mark Lim

Vivien Milat writes:

I just read your article, and, quite bluntly, you're incorrect, at least when it comes to WinXP Pro. Yes, the default is to hide the user security settings for shares, but you can set them to be displayed again. Simply go to Tools -> Folder Options in any Explorer window, go to the View tab, and uncheck "Use simplified file sharing (Recommended)". You'll get all your security settings (similar to Win2000's) back.

Now, if you're running WinXP Home, you're stuck with the simplified file sharing, but most people running accounting software would probably be using XP Pro.

The MS knowledge base has more information about this in the following articles:

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