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Easier File and Folder Sharing

On a practical basis, Windows Vista also makes it easier to share files and folders over your home or small business network. The file/folder sharing process is not only easier in Vista than it was with Windows XP, it's also more secure.

To share a folder in Windows XP, you had to right-click the folder, select Sharing, and then configure the appropriate settings in the Properties dialog box. You could, with a little effort, enable sharing, give a name to the shared folder, and specify users or groups that could access the share. Everything you needed to do was there, but it seemed a bit Byzantine for the casual user.

The sharing process is a lot easier and easier to understand in Windows Vista. When you right-click a folder and select Share, you now see a new dialog box, shown in Figure 3.7, which walks you through all available folder-sharing options. You decide which users can access the shared folder and what permission level each user has. It's that easy, and in plain English.

Figure 3.7

Figure 3.7 Configuring a shared folder in Windows Vista.

Even easier, you can simply use Vista's Public folder to house the documents you want to share. Any file you copy to the Public folder (located at C:\Users\Public\ on your hard disk) can be viewed, edited, or deleted by other network users, no special configuration necessary.

If you want to limit access to your shared or Public folders, you can use Vista's new password-protected sharing feature. You access this feature from the Network and Sharing Center, as shown in Figure 3.8; when activated, only those network users who have a username and password on the current PC can access shared files and folders. This adds a nice layer of security to your shared documents—especially if you have multiple users using your network.

Figure 3.8

Figure 3.8 Activating password-protected sharing from the Network and Sharing Center.

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