There are two basic operations, firstly put all the computers in the same workgroup then, secondly, choose the folders on each machine that are to be shared. Repeat this on all PCs, use the same workgroup name but, of course, a different computer name for each of your computers. This procedure is successful because no passwords are used and ‘Everyone’ is allowed access, which will make your computer a little less secure.
1. Add a Vista computer to a workgroup by right-clicking Computer > Properties > Change Settings then change Computer Name and Workgroup Name. Make the computer name meaningful to aid recognition. The computer should restart.
2. Go to Control Panel > Classic View > Network and Sharing Center and make sure you have Network Discovery, File Sharing and Public Folder Sharing all set to ‘On’ and, if you‘re not using passwords set Password Protected Sharing to ‘Off’, unless you want to set up identical usernames and passwords on all computers in your network. If you have it on, you will be asked for a username and password when you try to access a Vista computer from an XP computer.
To share a Vista folder, click it > Share on the Toolbar > Advanced Sharing, click ‘Share this folder’ > Apply > OK, etc.
If you don’t have Password Protected Sharing turned on, you have to change the security permissions on your folder to allow 'Everyone' access. Right-click the folder > Properties > Security Tab > Edit > Add and type Everyone (not the quotes) into the box and OK. Tick the boxes next to the permissions you want to allow, then Apply > OK, etc. You may see some screens coming up with message 'Error Applying ……..'. These is normal and can be ignored by clicking Continue.
Two little people should appear on the icons of those that are shared. An alternative way of sharing is to drag the folders you want to share to the Public folder.
3. Windows firewall is normally set to allow file and printer sharing but if you have a third-party firewall make sure file and printer sharing is enabled so that each machine can talk to the other(s). Don’t disable the Windows firewall if it’s the only one you’re running.
4. To see or copy files click the Windows Orb (Start) > Network (My Network Places in XP) and the computers/folders/files should appear. Using Windows Explorer, drag them from one PC to the other.
5. On the machine that the printer is connected to, go to Control Panel > Classic View > Printers, right-click the printer, click Sharing, check ‘Share this printer’. On the other machine go to Control Panel > Classic View > Printers > Add Printer > and follow the wizard.