Manage Network Discovery, File and Printer Sharing

Updated: October 14, 2010

Applies To: Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 7

You can use the procedures in this section to enable or disable network discovery, file sharing, and printer sharing.

Network discovery enables a set of Windows Firewall rules that allow your computer to be found by other computers on the network. When network discovery is turned off, Windows Firewall prevents your computer from responding to network discovery protocol traffic.


By default, file sharing, printer sharing, and network discovery are not enabled.

There are several types of file sharing and printer sharing that you can configure:

  • File sharing. When this is turned on, Windows Firewall allows standard users to choose whether to share files or folders in their profiles, that is, files and folders under %systemroot%\Users\%username%. Administrators can share any file or folder on the computer.

  • Public folder sharing. Turning this on automatically shares the folder found at %systemroot%\Users\Public. Turning on public folder sharing automatically turns on file sharing, which is required.

  • Printer sharing. Turning this on shares the printers which are installed on this computer so they can be used from other computers on the network. Selecting the Printer Sharing option automatically selects the File Sharing option, which is required.

  • Password protected sharing. This option is available on computers that are not joined to a domain. Turning this option on restricts access to shared resources to only those users that have valid user accounts and passwords on this computer. To grant access to a shared folder on this computer to a user on another computer, you must create a user name and password on this computer and supply them to the other user for use when accessing this shared folder.

You can use the following sections to complete this task: