Windows includes features for file sharing, printing, and security across the network. In this video, you’ll learn about mapping drives, sharing printers, proxy settings, network paths, and metered connections.
In Windows, we might have information in a folder that we’d like other people to be able to access. Or you might have a printer connected to our system, and we’d like other people to have access to print to that printer. The way that you would do this in Windows is to create a share of that folder or to share the printer in the operating system.
To be able to access a folder that’s somewhere across the network, we would assign or map a drive letter that would be associated with that share. So we would specify the file server. We would name the share that’s configured on that server, and we would tell Windows how we would like to log in to access that information.
You can view a list of all shares that might be available on a server using file explorer or from the command line. But the administrator of that share can choose not to make that share visible on the network by putting a dollar sign at the end of the share name. This doesn’t prevent anyone from accessing the share if they happen to know the name, but it does prevent the share from being displayed when you request a list of available shares.
If you’d like to see a list of all of the shares that have been configured on your Windows system, you can find that under administrative tools, computer management, and under there will be a shared folders option, and you can choose shares, sessions, and open files. If you need to access a share that’s on a remote system, then you need to map a network drive. This mapping of a drive associates a drive letter with the share that’s located on that remote device. This means that if you need to access any data that’s on that share, you simply use the drive letter to be able to reference that location.
To map this drive, we would choose the map network drive icon on the toolbar. And in the dialog box, we would choose an available drive letter, and then specify the server name and the name of the share. You can tell Windows to automatically reconnect this share every time you log into Windows. And you can also tell Windows to use a different set of credentials when authenticating to that share.
In this example, I’m accessing a server by the name of Daedalus. We know that’s the server because it starts with two back slashes, a backslash after the name of the server, and then the name of the share itself. In this case, the name of the share is gate room. When we click the finish button, we’ll have a new map drive that shows h colon, and there is the gate room share on the Daedalus server.
You can also do this from the command line with the net use command. In this example, I could have used the command line and used net use, h colon, then the name of the server, and the name of the share. Because this share has a space in the middle of it, if you’re doing this from the command line, you’ll need to have that entire location contained within quotations.
Just as you can share the folder that’s on a remote server, you can also share the printer that’s configured on that remote server. You can access that sharing function inside a file explorer, in the settings app, or through the printer properties itself. You can click the add printer or scanner and give the option to use a share that’s located on the network.
If you’d like to share a printer that’s on your system, you can go to the printers and scanners, and find the printer, and choose the option to manage that printer. Inside of those options, you can print a test page, run the troubleshooter, or in this particular case, set up the printer properties themselves. Inside of the properties, you can see information about the printer and how it’s configured. And the option you’re looking for is the sharing tab.
Under the Sharing tab, you click the option to share the printer, and then you would give that printer a name. In this example, I just used the model number of this particular printer. If you click the security tab under the properties, you can also specify who can gain access to print to this printer, and of course exclude anyone who would not need access to this printer.
Once you’ve shared that printer, someone else on the network can then access that printer through the printers and scanners option by adding a printer or scanner. When you choose the option to add a printer or scanner, it will search the network for any shares that are available.
If it doesn’t find the printer you’re looking for, you can click the option that says the printer that I want isn’t listed. This gives you the option to specify the server name and the share name of the printer, and when you click next, it will tell you that you’ve successfully added that printer to your system. From that point on, you can print to that printer, and anything you send to that printer prints on the printer that’s located on the network.
Some organizations use a proxy as a security tool to separate users from the internet. This proxy configuration can sometimes be transparent, where the users don’t need to configure anything on their system. But if the proxy is not a transparent proxy, you’ll have to make changes to the operating system so that it can properly communicate to the internet.
You’ll find these proxy settings under the settings app, under network and internet. You can also find it in the control panel under internet options, connections, and LAN settings. Under these proxy settings you can enable or disable the automatic detection of the proxy. And if you’d like to manually configure the proxy, you can also make those changes as well.
If you have a laptop at work, and you take that laptop to a coffee shop, you might want to have a different security posture depending on where you happen to be. This can happen automatically in Windows using network locations. One network location in Windows is the private location. If you’re on a home network or a work network, Windows will automatically assume that you’re in a protected or private area and will configure your system to be available to other devices that are in your immediate area.
If you’re in a coffee shop, Windows recognizes that you’re on a public Wi-Fi, and it limits any sharing or connectivity to your operating system. Although you can customize these settings, Windows makes this change automatically depending on where you are and where you’re connecting to the network. If you’d like to modify any of these automatic changes, you can go into the network status connection and change the connection properties. And from there, you can change this to be on a public network or a private network. This gives you the option to control exactly who can connect to your system, depending on where you happen to be.
File explorer makes it very easy to connect and disconnect from shares that are on the network. To first connect to a share, we would use the map network drive option within file explorer, and then you can specify the server name and the share name along with an available drive letter. Once you’ve made that connection, you might decide that you’d like to disconnect from that share. If you right mouse click on any share, you can choose the option to disconnect, and that share will be removed from your list.
Many of us have the luxury of an internet connection that is a flat fee for as much bandwidth as we would like to use throughout the month. But not everybody has that same access to the internet. And your network connection may have slow links, there may be limited amounts of bandwidth, and you might be charged by how much you use on that internet connection.
Fortunately, you can manage how Windows uses this internet connection, and you can limit how much data might be used by the operating system. Under the network connection, there’s an option for metered connection. And you can turn that on, and then set a data limit to help control data usage on this network. If you click that link, you’ll get a dialog that shows you the different networks that are connected on the system, and shows you all the data that’s being used by the different applications.
So if you would like to set a limit on your network, you could choose to have a monthly limit. You can set a reset date for that limit, and then you can specify how much data is this system allowed to transfer during that time frame. Once you make that change, Windows will tell you that this PC is now on a metered network.
And you have the option to enable or disable one drive synchronization and change the way that Windows updates is able to gain access to this data. Obviously, those two features alone could use all of the bandwidth that you’ve allocated for a month. So it’s nice that Windows gives you the option to limit those applications from using that internet connection.