Home > Articles > Home & Office Computing > Microsoft Windows Vista & Home Server

Accessing and Sharing Network Resources in Windows Vista

Sharing an Internet connection is a must for any modern network, but networking should be about sharing so much more. This chapter explains how you can work, play, and connect with your fellow network users using Vista.
This chapter is from the book

Many home and small office networks exist for no other reason than to share a broadband Internet connection. The administrators of those networks attach a broadband modem to a router, configure the router, run some ethernet cable (or set up wireless connections), and then they never think about the network again.

There's nothing wrong with this scenario, of course, but there's something that just feels, well, incomplete about such a network. Sharing an Internet connection is a must for any modern network, but networking should be about sharing so much more: disk drives, folders, documents, music, photos, videos, recorded TV shows, printers, scanners, CD and DVD burners, projectors, and more.

This expanded view of networking is about working, playing, and connecting with your fellow network users. It is, in short, about sharing, and sharing is the subject of this chapter. You learn how to access those network resources that others have shared, and you learn how to share your own resources with the network.

Accessing Shared Network Resources

After you connect to the network, the first thing you'll likely want to do is see what's on the network and access the available resources. Vista gives you two ways to get started:

  • Select Start, Network.
  • In the Network and Sharing Center, click View Network Computers and Devices.

Either way, you see the Network window, which lists the main network resources, such as the computers and media devices in your workgroup. As you can see in Figure 8.1, Details view shows you the resource name, category, workgroup or domain name, and the name of the network profile.

Figure 8.1

Figure 8.1 Vista's Network window displays the main resources on your network.

For a more detailed look at the types of items you see in the Network window, see "Viewing Network Computers and Devices," p. 130.

Viewing a Computer's Shared Resources

Your Network window will likely show mostly computers, and those are the network items you'll work with most often. (The computers display an icon that shows a monitor and mini tower computer; if you're not sure, select View, Details and look for the objects that have Computer in the Category column.) If you don't see a particular computer, it likely means that the machine is either turned off or is currently in Sleep mode. You need to either turn on or wake up the computer.

You may be able to remotely wake up a computer that's in Sleep mode; see "Using a Network Connection to Wake Up a Sleeping Computer," p. 151.

If you see the computer you want to work with, double-click the computer's icon. One of two things will happen:

  • If your user account is also a user account on the remote computer, Windows Vista displays the computer's shared resources.
  • If your user account is not a user account on the remote computer, and the remote computer has activated password protected sharing (see "Using Password Protected Sharing," later in this chapter), Windows Vista displays the Connect to Computer dialog box (where Computer is the name of the remote computer). You need to type the username and password of an account on the remote computer, as shown in Figure 8.2.
    Figure 8.2

    Figure 8.2 You may need to log on to the remote computer to see its shared resources.

Figure 8.3 shows a typical collection of shared resources for a computer.

Figure 8.3

Figure 8.3 Double-click a network computer to see its shared resources.

The computer shown in Figure 8.3 is sharing a folder named Data, two hard drives (Drive D and Drive G), a DVD drive, and a printer. The computer is also sharing two folders that that many Vista computers automatically share:


This folder is open to everyone on the network and usually provides users with full read/write access. However, it's also possible to protect this folder by giving users read-only access, or by not displaying the Public folder at all. See "Sharing the Public Folder," later in this chapter.


This folder contains the computer's installed printers. Vista usually places an icon for each shared printer in the computer's main folder, too. You can control whether Vista displays the Printers folder; see "Activating Printer Folder Sharing," later in this chapter.

Double-click a shared folder to see its contents. For example, Figure 8.4 displays the partial contents of the Data folder shown earlier in Figure 8.3. What you can do with the shared folder's contents depends on the permissions the computer owner has applied to the folder. See "Sharing a Resource with the File Sharing Wizard" and "Sharing a Resource with Advanced Permissions," later in this chapter.

Working with Network Addresses

In Figure 8.4, the Address bar shows the breadcrumb path to the shared folder:

Network > PAULSPC > Data
Figure 8.4

Figure 8.4 Double-click a shared folder to see its contents.

Clicking an empty section of the Address bar (or the icon that appears on the left side of the Address bar) changes the breadcrumb path to the following network address, as shown in Figure 8.5:

Figure 8.5

Figure 8.5 Click an empty section of the Address bar to see the network address.

As you can see, a network address uses the following format:


Here, ComputerName is the name of the network computer, and ShareName is the name of the shared resource on that computer. This format for network addresses is known as the Universal Naming Convention (UNC). If the UNC refers to a drive or folder, you can use the regular Windows path conventions to access folders and subfolders on that resource. For example, if the resource Data on PAULSPC has a Documents folder, the network address of that folder would be as follows:


Similarly, if that Documents folder has a Writing subfolder, here's the network address of that subfolder:


So, although you'll most often use icons in folder windows to navigate through a computer's shared resources, network addresses give you an alternative way to specify the resource you want to work with. Here are some examples:

  • In the Network Explorer, click an empty section of the Address bar, type the network address for a shared resource, and then press Enter.
  • Press Windows Logo+R (or select Start, All Programs, Accessories, Run) to open the Run dialog box. Type the network address for a shared resource, and then click OK to open the resource in a folder window.
  • In a program's Open or Save As dialog box, you can type a network address in the File Name text box.
  • In a Command Prompt session (select Start, All Programs, Accessories, Command Prompt), type start, then a space, then the network address of the resource you want to open. Here's an example:
    start \\paulspc\data\documents
  • In a Command Prompt session, you can use a network address as part of a command. For example, to copy a file named memo.doc from \\PAULSPC\Documents\Downloads\ to the current folder, you'd use the following command:
    copy "\\paulspc\data\documents\memo.doc"

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020