Schnee (schnee) wrote,

File sharing between Windows 7 and Windows 10

I had to diagnose some issues with sharing files between two computers, one running Windows 7 and one running Windows 10. The latter could see the former just fine, but not vice versa. What gives?

They were both on the same LAN, in the same workgroup, and all the necessary services were running. In the end it turned out that:

  1. Sophos (which was running on the Windows 10 computer), by default, blocks all SMB traffic; and
  2. Windows is unable to properly handle computer names that have non-English[1] letters in them.

The latter in particular is annoying. It's not like Windows refuses such names; quite the opposite, it happily lets you name your computer just about anything you want. It just silently breaks as a result.

FWIW, attempting to connect to the Windows 10 computer from the Windows 7 computer yielded the message "0x80004005 Unknown Error", which is not only unhelpful, but also so generic as to be ungooglable (the same error code is apparently used for all sorts of things). Windows' network troubleshooter tool failed to identify the problem as well (entirely expected, it never does anything useful).

But hey, Windows has only been under development for, oh, 35 years. And Microsoft is only one of the largest software companies in the world. Surely it is entirely too much for me to ask that non-English letters in computer names work; that if they don't work, they at least be refused; that useful error messages or codes are displayed; that troubleshooting tools actually do useful work; that there be useful diagnostic tools for administrators that go beyond Windows' dumbed-down control center; that Microsoft's website and KB have useful information; and that Microsoft's support forums yield useful answers that go beyond "have you tried reinstalling Windows".


Once it worked, files still couldn't be shared. This turned out to be my fault, as in my naivety I had assumed that selecting "Give access to..." and selecting "Homegroup (view and edit)" from a file's context menu might share it, or that otherwise "Give access to... > Specific people..." might give me the option to select who to share with.

This is not the case. And Windows 10's "Share" ribbon doesn't have anything useful, either. The proper way to share a directory on the network is:

  1. From the context menu, select "Properties";
  2. Go to the "Sharing" tab;
  3. Click on "Advanced sharing";
  4. Check "Share this folder";
  5. Click on "Permissions";
  6. Check "Change" in the "Allow" column if you want to allow writing as well as reading.

(You may also have to configure any firewalls that may exist; I'll leave that up to you.)

(I owe lots of thanks to this guy, and to kevlarhusky.)

  1. This may not seem like a big deal to you if you're from an anglophone country, but I see no reason why I shouldn't be able to write, say, "Æ" if you're able to write "W"; neither is a Latin letter. And in any case, this is a solved problem.
Tags: computer problems, computers, useful stuff, windows

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