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):

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE
 SYSTEM
   CurrentControlSet
     Control
        Lsa
           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.



21 comments:

  1. Thank you! Very useful post, this has been pissing me off for at least a couple of years now, having to log in from the remote computer every time I want to access a shared folder.

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  2. Mate your a legend, dont know how you came across this but such an easy fix thanks so much

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  3. Great work! Very useful to know. Thanks.

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  4. Saving me hours! Great Simple Post. 1st click on Google. Well Done!

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  5. Actually it ("Turn off password protected sharing") does work without a registry hack but the share/file/folder has to have security permission of accessible by everyone and you can not use a login that exists on the computer you have to use a random made up one.

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  6. OH! MY! GOD! I love you, man! This was magic!! I spent this week trying to figure it out!

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  7. I think this will fix the problem im having, but i do not have the gpedit... Which article am i supposed to follow? im missing something...
    Thanks

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    1. Click the word 'article' in follow this article.

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  8. Gary, the link leads to some msn downloads. No article or instruction connected to folder sharing. I have gone through the excel file that is there, but have no clue what should I do with that. Damn "we always know best what is better for you" Microsoft... Hope they die soon :)

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  9. The link leads to a list of MS spreadsheets with the registry keys. Then under the Security tab is the list. Then search for the same thing I highlighted in blue with GPEDIT.MSC (try blank passwords). Then use regedit to change the DWORD to 0.

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  10. I have updated the article to include a walk through on using regedit to make the change. If you have never used regedit in the past then be very careful what you do, it's pretty easy to foul things up.

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    1. Great "Thank you" Gary! It is the only place we can get working solution!
      It is now possible to share folder with no passwords necessary.
      What can I do to share whole partition of the hard disk the same way? It still refuses to connect to partition D: directly even if it is shared. Some options are blanked with partition D:, setting all priviledges for all does not work either.

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    2. That's why it's called folder sharing. It must be a folder. They don't consider 'root' a folder. I never tried to share a whole hard drive in recent versions of Windows. Back in the days of Windows 95/98 it was possible.

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    3. It is still possible in XP SP3 though, not sure about Vista. Then in Win7 it may be confusing, becouse sharing options for root directories or whole drives are still there, that makes no sense (but it is MS it does not have to make sense ;)). Are you absolutely sure it can not be done in Win7?

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    4. I am not sure, when I last tried in the Vista days I could not get it working. So I caved and just got used to folder sharing. I take large drives make a directory and then store files under that master directory. But for sharing your boot drive it would be handy to have the whole thing shared.

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  11. Ok, found missing piece of solution: it is necessary to change security options for specific drive (properties of the drive, "security" tab, "edit" then "add", write "everyone" in the empty field, click ok, then click all allow options, then ok, and it is done)
    Thanks Gary, that solves rest of the problems with Win7. Greetings.

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  12. add everyone + simply turn off the require password protection in network and sharing center> advance sharing >password protected sharing

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  13. Perfect answer to what I was looking for. Thank you, this saved me much time and I'm sure what would have been much frustration!

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  14. Good article, but it doesn't seem to help if the Win 7 box hosting the file is connected to a domain :(

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    1. No idea, I never had a domain server at home and at work I only used Samba servers, no BillyWare servers in sight!

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