What is Home Network File Sharing?

Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth

Networking means linking computers and/or peripherals together in a shared network, and home networking simply means accomplishing this in a home setting. Home networking can have a number of purposes. It can be used to share broadband between several computers or to share a printer. One can also use it in order to be able to use a laptop computer wirelessly from remote areas of the property. Home network file sharing is using the home network in order to exchange files.

An external hard drive.
An external hard drive.

Home network file sharing can be done through different types of network configurations. The simplest configuration is that of two computers that are directly connected. That connection is likely to be an Ethernet crossover cable, but a special USB cable or serial cable may also work, depending on the computer and cable. An adapter may be required. Depending on the operating system, once the two computers are connected, there will be some way of exchanging files.

Cat5 cable for use with network file sharing.
Cat5 cable for use with network file sharing.

File transfer devices are another method of home network file sharing when just two computers are involved. An example is The Tornado®, which has two USB plugs that are plugged into the two computers. Software launches showing what’s on each machine, and files can be dragged and dropped to transfer them.

A wireless or Ethernet network with a router may include not only multiple computers, but also, for example, a printer, a scanner, an external hard drive, and more. With this type of set-up, a number of different ways of home network file sharing may then become available. Under these conditions, depending on the operating systems, files could be shared using AFP (Apple Filing Protocol) File Sharing, an FTP (File Transfer Protocol) server, an NFS (Network File System) server, SMB/CIFS (Server Message Block/Common Internet File System) servers and shared folders, or a WebDAV (Web-based Distributed Authoring and Versioning) server.

Setting up home network file sharing may also require taking some other steps in either adjusting settings on the computers involved and/or using some features that may not otherwise be needed. One requirement may be creating a workgroup to include specific users in a group that has file-sharing privileges. Reconfiguration of each user’s firewall is likely to be involved. And the material to be shared may need to be placed in a special public folder. These particulars are OS-specific.

A wired router can be used to set up a home network and allow file sharing.
A wired router can be used to set up a home network and allow file sharing.
Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth

Mary Elizabeth is passionate about reading, writing, and research, and has a penchant for correcting misinformation on the Internet. In addition to contributing articles to wiseGEEK about art, literature, and music, Mary Elizabeth is a teacher, composer, and author. She has a B.A. from the University of Chicago’s writing program and an M.A. from the University of Vermont, and she has written books, study guides, and teacher materials on language and literature, as well as music composition content for Sibelius Software.

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