Understanding Sharing and Security Models in Windows

Much like Windows Vista, Windows 7 offers two ways (aside from HomeGroup) to share file resources, whether locally or over the network:

• Public folder sharing When you place files and folders in your Public folder or its subfolders, those files are available to anyone who has a user account on your computer. (The Public folder replaces the functionality of the Shared Documents folder in Windows XP.) Each person who logs on has access to his or her own profile folders (Documents, Music, and so on), and everyone who logs on (including members of the Guests group) has access to the Public folder.

Settings in Advanced Sharing Settings (accessible from Network And Sharing Center), determine whether the contents of your Public folder are made available on your network, and whether a user name and password is required for access . If you turn on password-protected sharing, only people who have a user account on your computer (or those who know the user name and password for an account on your computer) can access files in the Public folder. Without password-protected sharing, everyone on your network has access to your Public folder files if you enable network sharing of the Public folder.

• "Any folder" sharing By choosing to share folders or files outside of the Public folder, you can specify precisely which user accounts will be able to access your shared data, and you can specify the types of privileges those accounts enjoy. You can grant different access privileges to different users. For example, you might enable some users to modify shared files and create new ones, enable other users to read files without changing them, and lock out other users altogether.

You don't need to decide between sharing the Public folder and sharing specific folders because you can use them both simultaneously. You might find that a mix of sharing styles works best for you; each has its benefits:

• Sharing specific folders is best for files that you want to share with some users but not others—or if you want to grant different levels of access to different users .

• Public folder sharing provides a convenient, logical way to segregate your personal documents, pictures, music, and so on from those that you want to share with everyone who uses your computer or your network.

• Public folder sharing is the easiest to set up, although with the benefit of the Sharing wizard, sharing a specific folder certainly isn't complex.

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