Recent Windows operating systems do not offer regular password protection for networked shared folders. However, here’s how to password protect a networked shared folder also known as network share by using the Guest account workaround.
Password Protect a Network Share Folder
The following approach of password protecting a networked shared folder has been tested from a Windows Vista based client on Windows Server 2003, but given its generic nature on the Microsoft architecture it should as well work on the Server 2008 platform.
Configuring the Server
First of all, you have to enable the Guest account. On the server where the network shared folder is located Go to Start, All Programs, and right-click My Computer. Select Manage. In the console window which opens expand Local Users and Groups. Click on Users and right-click the Guest Account in the right pane.
Click Properties and un-tick Account is disabled. Click OK, then right-click the Guest account again and select Set Password. Enter and confirm the password for the Guest account which will be used to access the network folder you are going to share.
Configuring the Network Shared Folder
Right-Click the folder you want share. Select Properties. Change to the Sharing tab. Select the radio button Share this Folder, and assign a share name (ommit spaces if possible). Hit the Permissions tab and remove any existing group or user names.
Click Add and type Guest in the Enter the object names to select-field. Hit OK. On the Share Permissions tab, select the permission level for your password protect share by ticking Read, Change or Full Control in the Allow column. Click 2 x OK.
Configuring the Client
Client Computers can now connect to the shared folder using the UNC path \\\ and enter the Logon name Guest with the associated password when prompted. Alternatively, users may map a network drive from Windows Explorer with the Connect using a different user name-option on. It is usually a good thing leaving Reconnect at Logon ticked.
The Bottom Line
Using the Guest account to protect a network share works fine as long as you don’t need different passwords. If the default Windows way of sharing networked folders (network shares) by authenticating users with a password and assigning granular permissions to users or groups is not feasible then you might use zipped or compressed objects as outlined in the next parts of this series shoud there be a need for more than one password.
What is Next ...
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