Thursday, February 9, 2012

Windows 7 folder sharing with no password

I gotta love Microsoft.  At times they can easily make you lose your hair and in my case it shows I don’t have much left.   I recently reloaded a Win 7 PC.  I wanted easy folder sharing access between two PC’s on a local LAN.  The catch was I wanted no passwords.  You would think this should be simple.  After going to the Network and Sharing center I went to Advanced Sharing Settings and selected my Home Network.  I verified the following settings:
  • Turn on network discovery
  • Turn on file and print sharing
  • Turn on sharing so anyone with network access can read/write files in public folders
  • Turn off password protected sharing

I shared a folder and to no surprise it was not working.  I rebooted both PC’s and still nothing.  Googling the issue yielded lots of similar complaints and no answers.  I finally found the secret, a security policy that must be changed in order for this to work.  The policy is called "Limit local account use of blank passwords to console logon only". Why Microsoft has the option “turn off password protected sharing” is silly since it won’t work without a registry change.   Luckily Windows Ultimate comes with gpedit.msc.  Change the line highlighted in blue, make sure to disable it. If your Win 7 does not include gpedit.msc follow this article or read below for the registry modification.

These instructions below are only for versions of Windows 7 that do not include Gpedit.msc.  Run regedit from the Start Button and navigate to the following location (follow the picture below with the words highlighted in yellow):

           Then look to the window on the right side for LimitBlankPasswordUse

Make sure that LimitBlankPasswordUse it set to 0 (zero).  Make the change and then reboot your system.