One of the most powerful features available in modern computing is the use of local area networks that allow you to share movies or music files across all the devices in your home or office. You can use a network to set up a media server, to share printers and scanners or just to share files between two machines.Although in principle networking your computers is fairly simple, in practice it can be a pain to get it running properly. A common problem is the inability of one machine to see shared folders on another machine. In Windows 10 this problem has been fixed to a great extent, but it does still occur.
Older versions of Windows supported local area networks, all the way back to Windows for Workgroups 3.11 in 1993. Up until Windows 8.1, in fact, networking in Windows could fairly be described as a nightmare, presenting problem after problem. If you got a network up and running on those earlier operating systems, in fact, you became really reluctant to change anything whatsoever, for fear that your precariously-functioning network would fall apart again.
Fortunately, Windows 10 has greatly improved that process. There are still issues but networking and sharing resources within a network isn’t quite the painful experience it once was. Windows 10 simplified the process of creating a network, so that now all you have to do is set up a network share and it works like a charm. In theory.
Setting up a network in Windows 10
One of the most common causes of networking glitches in Windows 10 is incorrect setup. Despite being the simplest Windows network possible, it is still very easy to get things wrong. Here is how a Windows network should be set up.
- Type ‘control’ into the Windows Search bar and select Control Panel.
- Select Network and Internet, Network and Sharing Center.
- Click Change adapter settings.
- Right click your network adapter and select Properties.
- Ensure IPv6 is enabled.
- Click OK.
- From Network and Sharing Center, select Change advanced sharing settings.
- Ensure Network discovery and File and printer sharing are enabled for Private, Guest or Public and All Networks.
- Check the box next to Turn on automatic setup of network connected devices where applicable.
- Toggle Turn on password protected sharing to on.
- Under All Networks, turn on Public Folder sharing.
- Select Choose media streaming options.
- Select Turn on media streaming.
- Hit OK.
Keep the Network and Sharing Center window open for now as you may need it again.
Now the underlying network has been configured, we set up the folder shares.
- Open Windows Explorer and right click a folder you want to share.
- Select Properties.
- Select the Sharing tab.
- Click on the Share button.
- Enter the people you want to allow access to your files in the popup box that appears. This would be the people who usually log into other computers using a Microsoft account.
- Alternatively, select “Everyone” from the dropdown if you don’t have specific users on your home network.
- Click Add.
- Modify the permissions level within the window if you need to. “Read” will give users the ability to read files; “read/write” will let them modify or delete files.
- Click Share.
- Make note of the links provided to the shared directories.
- Click Done.
Once the share has been set up you should be able to access it from another computer. Open Windows Explorer, select Network from the left pane, select the file and log in using your credentials. That’s it!
PC cannot see shared folders in Windows 10
If you set up sharing correctly, your PC should see shared folders in Windows 10. If you cannot see them, perform these checks.
- Make sure your computers are using the same network.
- Make sure IPv6 is enabled on all computers.
- Make sure Network discovery is enabled on all computers.
- Make sure File and printer sharing is enabled on all computers.
- Toggle Turn on password protected sharing to off and retest.
- Make sure you are logging in using the same account you entered when you added users to Share with.
- If you use Windows Defender Firewall, open the Firewall app, select Allowed apps and ensure File and Printer Sharing is allowed to pass.
If none of those work, make sure all networking services are running. The following services should all be set to Automatic and be currently running:
- DNS Client
- Function Discovery Provider Host
- Function Discovery Resource Publication
- HomeGroup Provider
- HomeGroup Listener
- Peer Networking Grouping
- SSDP Discovery
- UPnP Device Host
Even though Homegroup has now been removed from Windows 10, it is still mentioned throughout the operating system.
If your PC still cannot see shared folders in Windows 10, check the credentials in the computer you are trying to access files from.
- Open Control Panel, User Accounts and Credential Manager.
- Select Windows Credentials and Add a Windows credential.
- Add the IP address of the PC hosting the file and the admin username and password of that PC.
- Select OK to save.
Make sure you add the IP address and admin username and password of the computer hosting the files. You can then theoretically access the share by typing the network address in Explorer on other computers, e.g. \\192.168.0.52\Admin\Adminpassword.
Failing all of that, there is always the Shared Folders troubleshooter. Select Settings, Update & Security, Troubleshoot and select Shared Folders. Run the troubleshooter from there.
Networking in Windows 10 is just much more difficult than it should be. If your PC cannot see shared folders in Windows 10, one of these fixes should have you up and running. They have all worked for me.
Have any suggestions or tips for helping with Windows 10 networking? Share them with in the comments!
We have more networking resources available for you!
Wondering what kind of router you should get? Check out our guide to the right wireless router for your needs.
Having problems with your WiFi network? Here’s our troubleshooting guide to wireless networks.
Want a more secure network? Here’s how to set up WPA2 Enterprise security on your network.
Wondering about network security? Here’s a guide to what WPS means in your network.
We’ve also got a tutorial on what custom firmware is.