Windows Server 2003 Configure access to shared folders

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Configure access to shared folders: Administrators always face the arduous task of assigning access to folders that are on the network.

There are three basic ways that you can assign permissions to folders in Windows Server 2003:
• using the Windows Explorer,
• using the Shared Folders Microsoft Management Console (MMC), or
• using the command line.

If you use the Command line or Windows Explorer to configure permissions, you can only do this locally. If you use the Share Folders MMC, you can set permissions both locally and on remote computers. In order to assign permissions to folders, you must be logged on as a user that is a member of the Power Users Group, Administrators Group or Server Operator Group. Use the steps below to configure sharing on folders.

Sharing Folders using Windows Explorer: To share folders using Windows Explorer, open Windows Explorer on a Windows Server 2003 by clicking on Start, select All Programs, click on Accessories and then choose Windows Explorer. (A keyboard shortcut for this is Windows Key and E.) Locate the folder you wish to share and right-click on it. A shortcut menu appears. Select the Sharing and Security... option. By default, the Sharing tab should appear. Choose the Share this Folder option. Enter a name for the share and then enter a description for the share if you wish. Next, you can set the User limit and Permissions for clients who will need to access this folder over the network. 

The Permissions tab will open. Here you can add Groups or Users that need access to this folder. The default Group is the Everyone group and the default permissions are Read.NOTE: The Read permission, the most restrictive permission of the three available, is the default permission given to shares created on Windows Server 2003. The Read option, by default, allows everyone the ability to read the contents of the shared folder, which means they can view file names, subfolders and programs that are running and the data in each file. Other options are Change and Full Control. The Change option gives clients the ability to delete files and subfolders in the share, modify files by changing data in the file and add subfolders and files to the shared folder, as well as all the permission granted by the Read permission.

The Full Control permission allows the group to have complete control over the shared folder, which means that they can read, write, delete and make any modification to the contents of the folder by default. Just click the Add or Remove button to change these settings. Click OK once the changes have been made and then click Apply and OK for the settings to take effect. You also have the option of setting Offline Settings for the folders and files. Offline settings are used by Administrators to make the contents of the share available offline. You can choose to allow the users to specify which files or folders are offline, allow all files and/or programs in the share are available offline or allow none of the files or programs inside the share to be available offline. 

Sharing Folders using Shared Folder Console: The Shared Folders Console can be opened by clicking on Start, selecting Administrative Tools and then choosing Computer Management.

Alternately, you can click on Start then select Run and then type MMC. Select File then Add/Remove Snap-in. Clicking the Add button brings up a list of available snap-ins. Select Computer Management from the list then select Add. The option to manage a local computer or another computer is available, as well as the option to have the selected computer to be changed when launching from the command line if you choose to save the console. Select the computer you wish to manage then click the Finish button. 

Choose Close then OK and the Computer Management console will be added in the Console Root. Shared Folders is located under Computer Management | System Tools. Select the Shares option from the Shared Folders list and open the Action menu then select the New Share button. If you do not do this, the New Share option is not available, so make certain you are on the Shares option under Shared Folders. The Share a Folder Wizard opens. The wizard is very self-explanatory, so we will quickly browse through the dialog screens just so you are familiar with them. Clicking the Next button brings up the dialog box As you can see, the computer name is preset and cannot be changed. You can select the folder you wish to share either by manually entering the name, or by clicking the Browse button and finding the folder from within its natural file structure. Once these settings have been entered, click the Next button. A dialog screen appears that allows you to give the share a user-friendly name. 

It is important to give the new shared folder a name that will be easily recognizable by your users. In our example, we are sharing the My Music folder. If, for example, the "My Music" folder contained the theme music used in television commercials for your company, you might want to give it the share name "Corporate Theme Music." As well, you have the option of supplying a more detailed description of contents in the Description text box. An example would be "Music used in television spots in Spring 2004." Clicking the Next button brings up the dialog screen that will allow you to set the permissions to the shared folder. The default option is to allow all users (Everyone group) the ability to have read-only access, the default setting for Windows Server 2003. The wizard allows you some other preset choices - you can chose to allow Administrators to have full access and all others to have read-only access or Administrators can have full access and all others can have read and write access. As well, you can set custom share and folder permissions by choosing the Customize option. If you select the Customize option, a small screen will appear identical to the one that is used in the Windows Explorer permission option.

As mentioned earlier, this screen shows the default Everyone group with Read access. This can be changed by adding the Groups or Users to whom you wish to give access and then selecting the appropriate permissions. Once this has been completed just select the OK button and then Finish. The final dialog screen appears. The last screen will appear stating that you have successfully completed the Share a Folder Wizard. It will display the status of the share and the summary of the share properties. The option to add another share is also available. If you select this option, when you click Close, the Share Wizard will rerun, giving you the option to add more shares. When you have completed creating all the shares needed, they will be displayed in the left pane of the Shared Folders console.

Deborah Timmons is a Microsoft Certified Trainer and Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer. She came into the Microsoft technical field after six years in the adaptive technology field, providing technology and training for persons with disabilities. She is the President and co-owner of Integrator Systems Inc.

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