Can’t Access Shared Network Folder in Windows

I have a small home network of three computers. Today, I could not access a shared folder from one of my computers. I could see the shared folder, but when I clicked its icon, a dialog box appeared requesting my username and password. If I right-clicked the shared folder and clicked Properties, I received the following error message:

You do not have the appropriate access rights for this server. For more information, contact your network supervisor.

Cause

I was using the same username on both computers, but not the same password. On the computer with the shared folder (running Windows 7), my username was Joe with no logon password. On the computer from which I was trying to access the shared folder (running Windows XP), my username was Joe with a logon password.

Because one Joe was using a password and the other wasn’t, Windows was confused.

Solutions

All of the following solutions worked for me (choose one):

  • Change the username on either computer.
  • Use no logon password on either computer.
  • Use the same username and logon password on both computers.

Some folks recommend using the same username and password on all computers on the network to avoid problems altogether, but this sort of defeats the purpose of Windows User Accounts.

From Microsoft: Create user accounts on the computer that is sharing the files. Create a user account and password for each person you want to be able to access files—whether they will access the files from their own account on the same computer or from another computer on the network. If you create the accounts using each user’s existing Windows logon username and password, the file-sharing computer will recognize the users when they connect and will not prompt them for a password. (From me: If the user doesn’t enter a password to log on to Windows, don’t add a password to the user account on the computer that is sharing the files.)

Other Possible Solutions

If the shared folder is on a Windows 7 PC:

  1. Choose Start, Control Panel, Network and Internet, and then Network and Sharing Center.
  2. On the left, click Change advanced sharing settings.
  3. Make sure the following options are selected:
    • Turn on file and printer sharing
    • Turn on sharing so anyone with network access can read and write files in Public folders
    • Turn off password protected sharing
  4. Click Save Changes.

Here’s another possible solution – on the computer with the shared folder, edit the following Windows registry key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\LSA

Editing this registry key made no difference on my ability to access shared folders on my network, but some people claim it has solved their problem.

Warning: Errors in the registry can cause serious problems. I recommend creating a Restore Point and backing up the registry before editing any registry keys.

  1. Run regedit.
    • In Windows 7, click Start, type regedit, press Enter, and click Yes.
    • In Windows XP, click Start, Run, type regedit, and press Enter.
  2. Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\LSA
  3. Right-click restrictanonymous and click Modify.
  4. Make sure Value Data is set to 0 (zero) and then click OK.
  5. If you changed Value Data to 0, reboot your computer for the change to take effect.

Other Resources

How to share files and folders in Windows 7

How to configure file sharing in Windows XP

How to use the RestrictAnonymous registry value in Windows 2000

Cannot Connect to Workgroup Computer on Network

Meet the Author

Joe Kraynak
avatar

Author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Computer Basics.

1 comment… add one
  • avatar pranay Jul 5, 2011, 12:55 pm

    what about in windows vista “i have the problem when connecting from windows 7 to vista it was showing error that it was not accessible” can u please tell me the solution on windows vista also

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