How do I enable simple file sharing on Server 2008 and stop my network from crashing?
August 9, 2008 9:15 AM   Subscribe

How do I transparently share files from a Windows Server 2008 box to several XP computers? I want it to stop asking for a username and password when people try to access files. Also, can anyone point me in the right direction to solving this weird network issue I've been having?

I've been assigned to run the IT stuff for the small business that I part-time for. They have four machines running Windows XP. One of them used to host all the office documents in a shared folder, enabling it to be accessed from across the network. They're connected via brand-new Cat 6 cables going into a wireless router, which is connected via another brand-new cable to a rather ancient 4-port ADSL modem.

They now have need of a dedicated server, and because of some incoming (in the next year) custom written software, it needs to be Windows Server 2008. I built them a low-cost machine with stable components and it seems to run fine.

I hooked it up to the network, connected to current share and transferred all the office files over. I then shared that directory. I created accounts that have the same username and passwords as the default accounts on the XP machines. I gave access to the office file directory to Everyone. At the top of that screen, it specified that if you selected Everyone, it wouldn't ask for a username or password. But it does!

When they were shared from the previous workstation, you could happily access them without entering a password. Is there any way to revert to this level of behaviour?

My second question follows from this - I tried accessing the folder from one of the comptuers on the workgroup, and I then entered Administrator and the password for the server into the request box that popped up. It connects absolutely fine. But once it's connected, at regular but random intervals, it seems to hang the workstation for a period of time and kill the network connection for the server. Other computers were able to access the network and connect to the internet fine. I can reproduce this problem Can anyone give me pointers to trying to diagnose this error, as obviously it makes the whole endeavour rather useless!

Any advice would be greatly appreciated, and thank you for reading this long question.
posted by Magnakai to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Is there anyway you can get a consultant to set this up for you? Watching someone setup a domain controller is going to spare you a lot of grief later on. I'd also highly recommend you get yourself a CBT training DVD, or some other video course. It is rather trivial to setup an AD role in Windows 2008, but it is oh-so-much better than setting permissions to everyone on a workgroup.
posted by geoff. at 9:35 AM on August 9, 2008

Response by poster: Unfortunately, I'm working for a small-scale non-profit that really can't afford a consultant. That was actually my initial recommendation for them too, but they quite amiably told me to do my best.

Are there any decent guides you could point me to? I'm a pretty fast learner and relatively computer-savvy in a layperson kind of way, so I feel confident I can set it up with some pointers. I'm going to google Active Directory (is that the right... erm... backronym?) and Domain Controller and see what I get.

Any other pointers or hints for my second question would be really, really enormously appreciated. Many thanks!
posted by Magnakai at 11:07 AM on August 9, 2008

Best answer: Here's the Microsoft guide on setting up Active Directory on Windows 2008. The basic idea is that you add the roles / services to Windows 2008 for Active Directory Domain Services. You then join your workstations to the domain you setup. Doing it the way you're doing it will make a mess of things, as you can see from your second question. Not that you can't make a workgroup scenerio work, but creating a AD infrastructure is really easy.

I'd highly recommend a training video which are very available through your favorite special web sites. Watching someone actually do it takes a lot of the mystery out of the process.

Alternatively I would recommend not using the Windows 2008 for file sharing and getting a ReadyNAS or some other similar unit. It is more or less a big hard drive with a small Linux OS purpose built for file sharing. If you can configure a wireless router you can configure this. It would mean no AD infrastructure but should mitigate all the problems you're having with Windows 2008.

Alternatively I would do my best to find a workstation no one is using and installing the trial version of Windows 2008. Play around with it, don't worry about screwing things up and format/reinstall as needed.

None of this is hard per se, it is just that experience in these kinds of areas really trumps a TechNet guide, which is why I recommended spending $500USD (which is what like 100,000 pounds now?) ... on a consultant. 2-3 hours showing you around would really be invaluable. If that really isn't available, you're going to have to bite the bullet and get one of those step-by-step Windows 2008 books or, preferably, training DVD. While the basic howto will be available everywhere, you'll find yourself spending a lot of time searching for guides that fill in the missing gaps of other guides.

At the very least, a weekend dicking around with a Windows 2008 install you can freely format would do wonders. Good luck.
posted by geoff. at 12:09 PM on August 9, 2008

I would be willing to donate some time for the non-profit in question depending on their mission to get the up and on their feet and into a more manageable situation. Contact me (or have them contact me) and I can provide credentials. Email in profile.
posted by SirStan at 2:50 PM on August 9, 2008

If you don't want to set up active directory, just set up identical usernames on the server with identical passwords, and permissions to use the resources.
posted by gjc at 6:33 PM on August 9, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for the responses, guys. I'm feeling my way around Active Directory in Server 2008, and I think I'm on my way to cracking it - it's just a matter of time to get all the kinks worked out.
posted by Magnakai at 12:22 PM on August 13, 2008

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