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  1. #1
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    Need a little networking advice

    Here's what I currently have:

    Cable modem, connected to wireless router via Cat 5 cable; router connected to desktop computer running XP Pro SP3 via Cat 5 cable; printer connected to desktop computer via parallel port (printer has no wireless, USB, or Cat 5 capability);
    Laptop computer running XP Pro SP3 that connects to the internet wirelessly via router above;
    Desktop computer running 2000 Pro that connects to the internet wirelessly via router above;

    The computers cannot talk to each other (i.e., there are no shared folders), and only the hard-wired desktop can see the printer.


    Here's what I'd like to do (and what I could use your guidance on):

    I would like all the computers to be able to use the printer;
    I would like each computer to have a shared folder accessible to all 3 computers. I want no information shared other than what is put into these folders.


    I think this is a fairly simple networking issue, but I'd like your advice (specific instructions, if possible) before I reconfigure anything.

    Thanks for any and all help.

  2. #2
    Super Moderator RetiredGeek's Avatar
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    Les,

    The first step is to create an account on the computer w/printer for each computer you want to use the printer. Use exactly the same username and password for these accounts as the userid and password on the associated machine.

    Next, on the machine w/printer get into the devices & printers, right click on the printer and share it. { Please note: depending on the age of your printer it may not be sharable, i.e. lacks the proper driver, this was common with eariler HP lower end printers.}

    If you want to share files you need to create identical accounts on all the computers then they will all be able to access the Shared Documents folders one each others computers. You can also explicitly share other folders if you wish.
    May the Forces of good computing be with you!

    RG

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  3. #3
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    Thanks for your reply, RetiredGeek.

    I need some more specific help, particularly with the first step. I am the administrator on all the machines, and I have them set up to boot without entering any passwords, so anytime one of the machines is booted, it runs in administrator mode. So if I boot into my administrator account on the wired machine, are you saying that I need to create new accounts on the other two machines with the same user name (no password) as the administrator account on the wired machine? Or should I just change the names on the administrator accounts on my wireless computers to match the one on my wired computer. I don't want to have to select a user account at boot-up, I just want each computer to boot into the administrator account without a password, as they do now. I also don't want to access files or run programs on the other machines, unless they're in the Shared folder. In other words, I don't want to administer the machines that I'm not using from the machine that I am using.

    My printer is capable of being shared, so that's no problem. But I don't see how I can access it from my other machines, without having access to the entire machine (which is not what I want - I only want to access the one shared folder and the printer on the wired machine from the other two, nothing else).

    I don't want to use the Shared Documents folder as the shared folder on these machines. I prefer to create a new folder on each desktop called "Shared", and use those folders for sharing. I want to be able to put files into the Shared folder on the machine I'm using, and be able to access them from the other machines. I also want to be able to put files directly into the Shared folder on either of the other machines. I'm not sure that I have to have identical user accounts to do this. Can you clarify this?

    I'm not sure that I'm making myself clear, but if you can help, I'd appreciate it.

    Thanks

  4. #4
    Super Moderator RetiredGeek's Avatar
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    I need some more specific help, particularly with the first step. I am the administrator on all the machines, and I have them set up to boot without entering any passwords, so anytime one of the machines is booted, it runs in administrator mode.
    I would highly recommend that you add passwords to all your accounts. You can use the free utility AutoLogon so you don't have to enter the passwords. I'm not sure but I believe you need passwords to make the sharing work correctly.

    So if I boot into my administrator account on the wired machine, are you saying that I need to create new accounts on the other two machines with the same user name (no password) as the administrator account on the wired machine? Or should I just change the names on the administrator accounts on my wireless computers to match the one on my wired computer. I don't want to have to select a user account at boot-up, I just want each computer to boot into the administrator account without a password, as they do now. I also don't want to access files or run programs on the other machines, unless they're in the Shared folder. In other words, I don't want to administer the machines that I'm not using from the machine that I am using.
    This may best be illustrated by an example:
    Machine 1: Wired & Printer
    Account: Curly - Password1 (Admin)
    : Larry - Password2 (Limited)*
    : Moe - Password3 (Limited)*

    Machine 2: Wireless
    Account: Larry - Password2 (Admin)
    : Curly - Password1 (Limited)*
    : Moe - Password3 (Limited)*

    Machine 3: Wireless
    Account: Moe - Password3 (Admin)
    : Curly - Password1 (Limited)*
    : Larry - Password2 (Limited)*

    *Note: these accounts can be hidden so they don't show up on the logon screen and they can be Admin if you wish.

    My printer is capable of being shared, so that's no problem. But I don't see how I can access it from my other machines, without having access to the entire machine (which is not what I want - I only want to access the one shared folder and the printer on the wired machine from the other two, nothing else).
    On Machine1 you use the control panel to share the printer. On the other machines you install the printer, using Add Printer, and select it as a network printer Windows should load the appropriate drivers from Machine1

    I don't want to use the Shared Documents folder as the shared folder on these machines. I prefer to create a new folder on each desktop called "Shared", and use those folders for sharing. I want to be able to put files into the Shared folder on the machine I'm using, and be able to access them from the other machines. I also want to be able to put files directly into the Shared folder on either of the other machines. I'm not sure that I have to have identical user accounts to do this. Can you clarify this?
    You can share any folder you want by right clicking on it, selecting sharing, and setting the appropriate permissions. Please note that you will have problems sharing programs across machines as most programs require installation to set the appropriate entries in the registry. I have had some success with just installing to the same shared folder on say Machine1 then install again for each other machine but making sure you point the installer to the shared folder on Machine1 and just install over the previous install. This does not work well for programs that update regularly, e.g. Anti-Virus as only the machine which does the update will have the appropriate registry entries.

    I hope this clarifies things for you, if not post back.
    May the Forces of good computing be with you!

    RG

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  5. #5
    Super Moderator RetiredGeek's Avatar
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    Here are the instructions for hiding the extra accounts:

    You can make a user account disappear, yet remain a full functioning account. The process does involve a registry edit.
    Normally when you log into XP, you see the startup screen where you see all the icons for the users who can access. We are going to hide aa account from this screen. If you want to log on as this user you have to press Ctrl+Alt+Del twice at the Welcome screen to make a Windows Security dialog box appear. Here you can type in the user name and password of the hidden account and log in. Limited Users shouldn't be able to see any sign of you except for the listing in the Documents and Settings folder. Other administrative users will be able to see your hidden account in Control Panel/User Accounts, so keep this in mind when you're planning this out.
    Before you begin with the instructions you should back up your System.

    1. Start, Run and type regedit and click OK
    2. Navigate to HKEY\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon\SpecialAccounts\Userlis t.
      You will not see this folder if you do not have show hidden system files turned on.
    3. Create a DWORD value, right click on the User list label file on the left side of the screen and select New>DWORD. You'll see the new entry in the right pane of the window, rename this value the name of the user account you want hidden (exactly how it is listed in the Startup screen, case sensitive) and leave the value at 0.
    4. Close your Registry Editor.
    5. Restart the PC.

    When the Welcome screen comes up you'll notice that there's no icon for the user you just concealed. So how do you log in? This is where you press Ctrl+Alt+Del 2x's and the Windows Security Dialog box will come asking you to authenticate (name/password) after this the system should log you in.
    Here's one more thing you might want to keep in mind—Windows logon screen. This is the screen where you see the available users you can choose to log in as. You can turn this option on/off in the User Accounts (Start/Control Panel/User Accounts) then Change the way Users log in or off and Use Windows Welcome Screen and you need to turn it off if you plan on using a hidden account and there are no other accounts on the system. The reason why is, Windows doesn't have any user accounts to display in the Welcome screen, so it will continuously reboot. Now if you do run into this or any problems simply enter Safe mode at the next boot, this will allow you to go to the User Accounts Window and fix any problems. If you find that you can't log in at all with your hidden account go back and look at the registry value you created. Make sure you're spelling the user name is correct and that it's in the right location in the registry.
    May the Forces of good computing be with you!

    RG

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  6. #6
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    Wow, lots of info! Thanks.

    A few comments:
    I do not want to use passwords to boot. These machines are in my home, and only my wife and I use them. My WIFI connection is protected by a password.
    I do not want to add any additional user accounts. I'd be willing to rename my admin accounts so they all have the same name as that on the wired machine, but no more than that.
    I believe the network installation can be done without editing the registry (although I am comfortable with editing the registry) via the Wizards.
    My only goal here is to add access to my printer from all machines, and to share a folder between all machines. While I have no doubt that your instructions will do the job, I believe they are overkill for what I need to do.

    I appreciate the effort you've made to educate me, but if that's the only way I can accomplish what I want, my inclination is to leave things the way they are.

    Thanks again for your help.

  7. #7
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    Try running the Network Setup Wizard on the machines. (located in the Control Panel) Usually that's all you need to get things going. The wizard should guide you through the necessary steps and with minor tweaking it should work.

    Run the wizard on the machine with the printer first. When the wizard finishes it will ask about saving the information. Save the info on a flash drive and then run the wizard on the other machines from that flash drive. I've used this method on numerous XP networks and it hasn't failed yet. (no guarantees on the 2000 machine) When/if you run the wizard on the wireless machines you may encounter a screen that states "A Network Cable is Unplugged". If you see this screen, be sure to use the "Ignore this Device" option, otherwise it may screw up your wireless settings.

    Also, you may have to do some tweaking to your firewall to allow the network to function.

  8. The Following User Says Thank You to junebug For This Useful Post:

    LesF (2011-10-14)

  9. #8
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    Thanks, junebug, I was hoping it would be as simple as that. I'll try it tonight and we'll see.

  10. #9
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    Well, I followed your advice, junebug, and it worked like a charm.

    I did encounter a couple of issues:

    1. As I mentioned above, I had all of my computers set up to automatically boot without a log-in screen, and with no password required. However, when I attempted to share folders after setting up the network, Windows required passwords for each computer. So after providing passwords on each computer as requested (which allowed me to share folders), I was subsequently presented with a log-in screen each time I booted. This is exactly what I didn't want.
    I got around that by using TweakUI to log on automatically at system startup.

    2. After using the flash drive to run the network setup on my 2nd computer (the laptop running XP), the printer was accessible on the network via the hardwired computer. I have an Epson Stylus COLOR printer, using Epson's driver, installed on the wired computer. I also have Epson's Status Monitor software installed on that computer, which allows me to check ink levels and additional printer info. After running network setup on the laptop, the printer driver was properly installed (although I can't seem to find it when I do a search of the laptop), and I was able to print. However, the status monitor software was not installed, so I've lost the capability of monitoring the ink levels from the laptop. I manually installed the status monitor software, but it didn't work. I still need to figure this one out (all suggestions welcome).

    Windows enabled it's firewall during the setup process; I manually disabled it again on each computer. I'll rely on the router for firewall protection.

    As soon as I get everything configured to my liking (a learning experience), I'll add the third computer (running 2000 Pro) to the network.

    Thanks again for your spot-on suggestions, junebug.

  11. #10
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    Well, turns out everything is not so rosy. It appears that running the network wizards screwed up my scanner. The scanner is not shared on the network, but has a USB connection to my desktop machine. Before I set up the network, I was able to open my HP PrecisionScan software (it would open almost immediately) and run my scanner. But when I tried to open the scanner software yesterday, nothing happened for about 3 minutes, then I got an error message that the software could not find the scanner, and the scanner could not be initialized. So I did the usual troubleshooting: tried a different USB port, reloaded the drivers, tried a new USB cable, connected the scanner to the laptop. Same problem on the laptop, and I went through the same troubleshooting steps, with no luck. I was almost convinced that the scanner was broken, but as a final check, I connected it to the other desktop computer (the one I haven't added to the network yet), and everything worked fine.
    When I connect the scanner to each of the networked machines, the computer recognizes new hardware, and and says that the hardware is installed and ready for use. But the HP software says it can't be found.
    After several attempts at reinstalling the software (sometimes before connecting the scanner, sometimes after), here's what I'm left with:
    When I open the scanning software, about 3 minutes elapses, during which time there is significant network access (I don't know why), but no indication that the program will even open. After this 3 minute period, the software eventually opens and the scanner works. Same situation on either networked computer.
    I'm convinced that running the Network Setup Wizard made changes to the system that caused this, but I can't figure out how to undo it. Apparently the scanner software feels obligated to contact the internet (my guess) before opening. I have no idea why, or how to stop it.
    And yes, I did a system restore to an earlier date, and it did not fix the problem.

    I'm at the end of my rope trying to figure this out - I need some serious help! Anybody???

    By the way, I have no intention of adding my other desktop to the network until I can resolve this issue.

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