Networking Vista with XP

You may have heard a lot of horror stories about trying to network a new Vista machine with your old XP machines, and you may have even tried it on occasion with no joy.  I know I had.

However, this time around, I was determined to get it working properly.  I, once again, Googled for articles explaining how to network the two machines.  This time, however, I was able to find a somewhat recent article on the subject (in the past, the majority of the articles I came up with were written when Vista was still in its beta stages).  I followed the steps in the article and was 95% of the way to having my two computers networked together successfully.

The last two pieces of the puzzle for me, however, were: 1) setting the correct permissions on my Vista files and folders and 2) configuring my Norton 360 firewall to allow the networking to happen.

To set the correct permissions, I had to go back into Windows Explorer and right-click on each folder I wanted to share.  I then chose “Share…” from the menu that appeared, and then told Vista that I wanted “Change sharing permissions”.  Then, I was greeted with a window that shows me the users that are currently allowed to access my files.  From the dropdown menu, I chose “Guest”, and then clicked the “Add” button.  I set the Guest account as a “Reader” of my files (meaning that they have read-only access to the folder I’m sharing).

That’s important, as you will need to know that you’ve shared with “Guest” when you try to access the files on your XP machine.  When you work on the XP machine and try to access a shared folder from the Vista machine for the first time, XP is going to ask you for your login credentials.  At that point, you’ll simply type “Guest” as your username and leave the password field blank.  XP will not allow you to leave the username field blank, so you need to know that you’ve shared with Guest.  If you chose not to share with Guest, and instead only shared with a password-protected account, you’ll need to know that username and password in order to view the files in Windows Explorer.

Next, I had to configure my Norton 360 firewall to allow the networking to happen.  I’m honestly not sure which step finally allowed me access, and which step(s) were unnecessary.  However, the steps I took were:

  1. I disabled the default rule that blocks Windows File Sharing by going to “Tasks and Settings->Change Advanced Settings->Firewall Protection Settings->Firewall General Rules”.
  2. I then went to the “Network Locations” tag within my firewall settings, and added my GATEIP to the trusted area.  Once I made that change, though, I needed to restart my computer in order for it to actually take effect.  It said that the change had been made as soon as I made it, but that wasn’t actually true.

Once I took those steps on both computers, my network was set up and working properly.

The next painful process I had to follow was to get my printers installed and configured within each user account on the XP machine.  Since that machine is a family computer, I’ve got a user set up for each member of the family.  Unfortunately, that meant that I needed to log in to each account and install both of my printers for each user.  Once I finished that, though, I was ready to roll.

I hope this article helps some people.  I’m sure I’ll have to struggle through getting my firewall settings configured properly again in a few months when my Norton 360 subscription ends.  At that point, rather than renewing my Norton subscription, I’m fairly certain I’m going to switch to the Symantec product I can get for free from my employer.  Once I figure that out, if there’s any trick to it, I’ll make sure to post about the steps I took to get it working.

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One Response

  • samir

    Hi,
    thanks for ur article. Could u help me inorder to add ip in trusted area in my firewall. My firewall is NOD32. But here is my major problem:
    When I wanna access my pc(xp) through laptop(vista) I prompt for user/pass. Although I set my account in both systems, “logon unsuccessful” messege happens. but when i want to access my laptop through pc i enter user/pass which i have set and everything goes well.
    I’d be grateful if u help me.

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