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What is the best way to share and give permissions to certain users/computers in a workgroup?

Does each user need the same account/password on every computer to have access to each others shared folders?

Don't really want to give permissions to 'Everyone'


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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Yes, each user will need the same username and password on each machine for this to work.

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Ahh... the "poor man's domain"... smile Keeping passwords in sync in this environment is a bit of a pain, but it will definitely work. – Evan Anderson Jun 26 '09 at 17:25
Someone should do cost analysis on this to see how many machines you have to screw with individually before setting up a DC becomes less costly. I imagine it's in the 10-20 range. – MathewC Jun 26 '09 at 17:57

Identities and permissions on a workgroup are on a per-machine basis, but you can log into the machine remotely using the identity on the machine. For example, if you have a network with two machines: Zen and Orac:

  • Zen has a user bloggsj, and bloggsj shares a folder \\ZEN\MP3s

  • Orac uas a user jonesf.

jonesf can log onto Orac using their login, but cannot login to Zen as they have no account on it. However, bloggsj can grant permissions on their share to ORAC\JONESF.

Without a domain controller or other centralised identity mechanism you cannot centralise identity on Windows. If you don't want to shell out for Windows Server there are some alternatives available, some of which are free:

  • Samba. Setting up a PDC in this is somewhat fiddly but is possible. Note that you need 'pro' versions of windows as 'home' versions do not support connecting to a domain.

  • Open-source authentication mechanism such as pgina or NISGina, although I don't think either of those are actively maintained any more.

  • Proprietary identity management systems such as Novell eDirectory (Formerly NDS).

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Also there are many cheap NAS boxes with Samba built in. – JS. Jun 26 '09 at 14:40
Not sure that many of them directly support acting as a PDC, though. Not that there's any inherent reason they couldn't. Maybe if you found a hackable one where you could install custom firmware. – ConcernedOfTunbridgeWells Jun 26 '09 at 15:30

If you are on a domain, you can use those credentials.

On the assumption you are doing a bunch of random pcs. Setup a user on each machine, same name. They must have a password for it to work!

Setup a share with permissions for that user.

Memorize IPs or DNS names and connect to them using the UNC path. ie. "\\" ie. "\\dnsnameofmachine"

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If on a domain, I suggest you create a group and add users to the group. Then add the group to the folder with the correct permissions. – Saif Khan Jun 26 '09 at 15:40

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