I'm about to shoot my beautifully designed Lacie black box in frustration.
December 21, 2010 1:40 PM   Subscribe

Is is REALLY possible to share an external harddrive over an xp network?

Here's my setup

1 office computer with a 1 TB external harddrive attached to it via USB
1 Router
1 media htpc
1 netbook

I need to share files from the external drive with the media htpc and the netbook. It doesn't seem to work. File sharing from the office comp is working perfectly both with internal drives as well as thumbdrives (FAT 8gb), but the external drive (ntfs) just won't do it. The shared folder shows up over the network, and gives an access denied error.

I've tried increasing the IRPStackSize value from 0, incrementally to 60; nothing. I've tried mapping the external drive to a folder in an internal drive, go in the folder, share a folder from it, and it worked beautifully when I set it up the first time, then breaks on reboot.

Any ideas?
posted by Sallysings to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Have you checked the underlying ntfs permissions on the external harddrive? FAT has no permissions other than the share permissions, so that could be your problem. If your version of XP is Home, you may need to work around its brain-dead permissions scheme. If the share permissions are OK but the NTFS permissions aren't granted, you will still get an access denied failure.
posted by benzenedream at 1:57 PM on December 21, 2010

access denied is, honestly, a pretty clear message - you don't have access to what you're trying to get to. however, it can be hard to troubleshoot because who "you" are as far as the computer's concerned is somewhat complicated. there's two things to check on: permissions and accounts.

for permissions, make sure you check both the permissions of the thing you're sharing and the share itself. they're separate, and Windows checks both before it decides whether or not to let you use the share. it sounds like the share is set up OK but the permissions on the drive aren't set up right. (they may be fine for your account on your office PC, but not for other computers or when Windows can't figure out which account is trying to access the share.)

accounts is the other thing that trips people up. accounts on individual computers are really only valid on the computer they exist on - an account on your office PC is different from an account on your netbook, even if it's named the same. to grossly oversimplify: your account is really the name of your computer and the name of the account. (there's a lot more to this, but this is mostly right.) for example, say your netbook and your office PC both have an account named "Sallysings", and you try to connect to your office PC via your netbook. when Windows on your netbook talks to the office PC, it's really saying "hey! let me connect to \\MyStuff. my name is Netbook\Sallysings." the office PC will check the permissions on the share and on the folder that's being shared, but it's not really ever going to find a Netbook\Sallysings entry, so it either asks you for a password (if you have an account that's similarly named) or falls back to Everyone.

to bring this all together, there's two things you can do to simplify setting up file shares:
  • make the share and the thing being shared very permissive. essentially, go in and add Everyone to the list of people allowed and give Everyone whatever access you need. this isn't horribly secure, and there's still a possibility that individual files in there can get munged up with different permissions, but it works.
  • map a drive to the share instead. if you map a drive, you can click the "Connect using another account" link there and put in the account info for your account on your office PC. be sure to include the computer name too. (if you don't know that, right click on My Computer, hit Properties, and then hit Computer Name. you can change it too if you want.) the username should look like OfficePC\Sallysings (for example). this is a bit more secure, I think, and a bit easier as well, as you probably won't have to mess with permissions really, since you're sharing the one account.
this stuff isn't near as easy as it ought to be, really..
posted by mrg at 2:48 PM on December 21, 2010

Response by poster: Things have just gotten doubly weird.

I checked ntfs permissions - they were fine. Then I added a new share -> with everyone -> read only. Then in a fit of what-the-heck-they're-all-my-comps spirit, I made the login/password the same for all three.

Netbook gets on the network, opens the new share - copies a file. No problem. Media center does the same, and...access denied.

Maybe there's a service that hasn't been started on the media center comp that I'm not aware of.
posted by Sallysings at 3:14 PM on December 21, 2010

Yes. you can do it. The easiest way to do it is to buy a router with a USB port. The hdd will show up on you network without any configuration (usually)

After reading beyond the initial question and from what has already been said. I don't know. :( sorry.
posted by NotSoSiniSter at 10:28 PM on December 21, 2010

What OSes are the three computers running? Are they all in the same workgroup?

Also, can you check the event log (My Computer --> Manage) on the Media center PC for the actual error when it gets an access denied?
posted by benzenedream at 11:10 PM on December 21, 2010

Best answer: Sounds like a workgroup thing to me too. Versions below Pro, iirc, have a habit of silently using their own workgroup and possibly computer name no matter what you ask them to do (you can type in OfficePC\SallySings but it will still try to connect as MediaCenter\SallySings, and that account will be rejected no matter what the name and password are).
In addition to what benzenedream advised, you could make extra-sure the NTFS permissions are okay by running "cacls d:\ /t /e /p Everyone:f" (assuming the external drive is mounted as D:\)
You could also consider turning on guest access for the share and letting the media center connect anonymously, which might not be appropriate, but could work if you just want to share movies.
posted by marakesh at 5:38 AM on December 22, 2010

Response by poster: Netbook: XP home sp3
Media center: Xp pro sp3
office: xp pro sp3

And they're all showing up on workgroup. Internal drive folder shares are accessible by all, external drive folder share (shared on office) accessible only to office & netbook.

and trying what marakesh suggested right now...


So it was the ntfs permissions afterall.

Then I went back and tried changing it back to read-only (vs. full) and it stopped working again. Oh well. I guess I'm stuck with full permissions for everybody in the house.
posted by Sallysings at 12:04 PM on December 22, 2010

Bwuh? That's weird, it shouldn't be doing that!
Was it the share permissions you changed back, or the ntfs permissions? Making the share read-only shouldn't affect anything (except writing to it) so that would be extra-weird.
For NTFS: I've been referencing this documentation, it seems like cacls does its thing without regard for system files, so making those read-only for everyone might some problems. You could try changing permissions back to read-only for Everyone, and then granting them to appropriate local users with something like "cacls d:\ /t /e /g Administrators:f Sallysings:f", and it might help with that.
You could also try granting permission to specific remote users like MediaCenter\Sallysings in either set of permissions (or both) in case that really is responsible for it. It shouldn't be, but then again, the whole situation is pretty weird.
Lastly, drive mapping can also be done from the command line, with "net use Z: "\\OfficePC\D" * /USER:OfficePC\Sallysings /PERSISTENT:YES". There's a slim chance it'll work better than doing it from the context menu.
I don't have the means to test any of this, so hopefully all this speculation will amount to something....

(Oh, and thank you! My very first best-answer tag! Whee!)
posted by marakesh at 1:12 AM on December 25, 2010

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