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How to set up network file sharing

What is network file sharing and why do I need it?

Every person that users computer or smartphone very often needs to view, copy or move files between the desktop computers, laptops, netbooks and smartphones. The files may be images, music, video files or documents. The easiest way to transfer files from one computer to another (PC to PC, Mac to Mac, PC to Mac, and vice versa) is by using a home network (also known as LAN - Local Area Network). LANs can be wired (with network cables), wireless (Wi-Fi), or a combination of the two. LANs are also widely used in most businesses.

Even if you have only one computer (or only one laptop or netbook) you still can benefit greatly from a home network if you have a smartphone or network attached storage device (NAS, basically a hard disk with network connection). Once you have a working network, you have to set up the network file sharing: the ability to share all the files in given disks or folders with the other computers on the network.

Within a network, every computer, laptop, nettop or NAS device must have a unique name (network computer name), which is used to find and connect to this computer. (see how to find out or change the network name of your computer) Every computer or NAS device may share one or more folders that will be visible from the other computers (or smartphones). Such folder is called network share or shared folder and must have a unique name within the computer.

For example, your desktop PC may have the name Atlas and to provide few network shares: Downloads, Music and Photos. If you want to connect to one or more of these shares, you will have to use the following addresses: \\Atlas\Downloads, \\Atlas\Music and \\Atlas\Photos.

Until recently the only option to transfer files between your computer and your smartphone was the physical USB cable connection, which is relatively simple but not very convenient. As many smartphones are Wi-Fi capable it is very convenient to view, open, copy or move files from your smarthone without any cables and without the need to sit in front of your desktop computer. myExplorer is an advanced smartphone application, which allows you to see all network shared folders from your smartphone.

Please read the rest of this guide to see how to set up the network file sharing in your own home network (or between your laptop and your smartphone, the principles are the same). If you already have a working home network with file sharing but you do not know how to use it from your smartphone, please go directly here.

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How to set up a home network (LAN)

Besides the sharing of files, the other two major uses of a home network are the internet connection sharing and the printer sharing. The first one allows all computers (and smartphones, if you have a Wi-Fi router or access point) to use your ADSL or cable internet connection and the second one allows you to print documents from one computer to a printer that is attached to another computer (or directly to the network). If you already have these services, then you have a working home network and you just need to set up the network file sharing. In such case, please go directly here.

First, you need to build the physical (hardware) part of your network. Basically, you need to connect together all computers that will participate in the network. Then you may need to change the settings of the computers depending on their operating system. The following guides are good source of information about the needed hardware and configuration settings:

For Windows 7:
For Windows Vista:
For Windows XP:
For Mac OS X:
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How to set up the network file sharing

After you have created you home network (up to the point that all computers are connected either with LAN cables or Wi-Fi wireless connection and have Internet access), you need to set up the network file sharing. This will allow you to access the files and folders on one computer from another computer on the network (or from your smartphone).

The steps involved are different depending on the operating system on the computer(s). Note that you only need to do this on computers that you want to share files with the other computers on the network (i.e. act like file servers). As you may have computers with different operating systems on your network, make sure that you are following the right guide for the operating system of the computer that you are configuring:

For Windows 7:
For Windows Vista:
For Windows XP:
For Mac OS X:
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Accessing your network shares from your smartphone with myExplorer

At this point you have a working Wi-Fi network and some network shared folders on one or more computers (or network storage devices - NAS). All you need to do is to add the network shares that you want to access to your myExplorer application on the smartphone.

Start the myExplorer application and you will see its main screen. On Samsung Wave phone, the Add button on the lower left corner of the screen. On a Nokia phone, tap Options menu and select the Add network folder option. This will open the Add network folder screen. Here, you have to enter the following things:

  • Computer name. This is the network name of the computer that you want to access (see how to find out or change the network name of your computer). In the (very rare) cases when the NetBIOS name service is not enabled on your network, you can enter the exact IP address of the computer in the field Computer IP address. Even in such case, you can still fill the Computer name field to see more familiar name instead of IP address in myExplorer main screen.
  • Folder (share) name. This is the exact name of the network share that you have created on this computer.
  • Computer IP address. Optional field, use only if there is no NetBIOS name service on your network (i.e. almost never).
  • WINS server IP address. Optional field, use only if you have a WINS server (this is the case only in some business networks).
  • User name. The user name of the account that have the right to access the network share. You can leave this field empty if you are using anonymous (guest) account.
  • Password. The password of the account that have the right to access the network share. You can leave this field empty if you are using anonymous (guest) account.

After you fill the required fields, tap the Save or Done button and you are done! You will see the new network share on the myExplorer main screen (it will appear in the form \\Atlas\Photos - Atlas is the name of the computer and Photos is the name of the network share). In order to enter the network folder, you just need to tap the network share.

If you receive an error message when trying to access your network share from myExplorer application, please check your error message (you will need to long tap the network share name and select the Edit command to correct the error in the network share settings):

  • Network error. myExplorer can not find or connect to the computer. Check if you the computer network name is entered correctly, if the computer is turned on or your Wi-Fi network is working properly (i.e. if you have Internet access on your smartphone).
  • Invalid user name and/or password. This computer requires a user name and a password. If you have entered user name and password, enter them again as they are not correct.
  • Share name does not exist on this server. The folder (network share) name that you have entered is not correct (or this network share has been removed from the computer and is no longer available).
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