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How-To Geek

Lesson 10: How to View & Access What’s Shared on the Network

To manage your shared folders, expand the “Shared Folders” section. Here you will find three subsections: Shares, Sessions and Open Files.

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In the “Shares” section you will see all the resources you are sharing with the network, their name and folder path. Having this view is very useful as you may be sharing more than you think. If you see something that you no longer want to share, use what you learned in Lessons 6 and Lesson 7 to stop sharing resources with the network.

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Before we move on to the next subfolder, there’s something else that you should keep in mind: in this list you will see all your drives as being shared. They have a special name like C$ or D$. These are hidden administrative shares created automatically by Windows.

You will see that they also have a different icon. These hidden shares are used in network domains and network administrators get access to them. You cannot make these shares go away but also you do not have to worry about them. Because they are hidden, they are not visible as shared resources to others on the network.

Next, go to the “Sessions” subfolder. Here you will see the users that are currently accessing your computer through the network. For each session you see the user, the computer from which it is connecting, the type of operating system being used, and the number of opened files, for how long he or she is connected and how long the session was idle.

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In the “Open Files” subfolder you can view all the open files and folders from all the sessions that are active on your computer.

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How to Monitor Your Shares, Active Sessions and Open Files with Third-Party Tools

If you are using Windows 7 Home Premium or earlier, the core edition of Windows 8.x or Windows RT, you cannot use the Computer Management tool to monitor what you are sharing and the active sessions on your computer. However, you can use third party tools like Net Share Monitor.

The trouble with this specific tool is that, when you install it, it tries to download and install unwanted toolbars. However, it does have a portable version that’s found in the archive you will download from their website.

After you extract its content, look for the “Portable Version” subfolder and run NetShareMonitor.exe from there. This will make sure that you avoid installing the crapware that’s bundled with it!

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You should run this application as an administrator, meaning that you have to right-click on it and select “Run as administrator”. Otherwise the application will run but it will not show any useful data.

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Net Share Monitor has three tabs that emulate what is being shown in “Computer Management: Active Sessions”, “Accessed Files” and “Shared Files”.

In the “Active Sessions” tab you will see the user accounts that are connected to your computer, from where they connected, when they connected, how many files they have opened, how long their session has been active, and how long it has been idle.

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In the “Accessed Files” tab you will see all the folders and files that are opened during the active sessions listed in the previous tab.

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In the “Shared Files” tab you can see all the resources that are shared with the network, including hidden administrative shares you have no control over.

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How to View a Map of Your Home Network in Windows 7

If you are using Windows 7, you can use a nice visual map of your network and the devices that are part of it. To view it, you must go to the “Network and Sharing Center”, using the instructions shared in Lesson 3.

Look at the top-right corner of the “Network and Sharing Center” and you will notice a link that says “See full map”.

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Click on it and wait for a couple of seconds. Windows 7 will load a map of your network with all the devices that are part of it and turned on at that time.

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If you hover the mouse over any device, you can see its name, IP address and MAC address.

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This map can provide a good view of how your home network is set up and you can use it to quickly learn details like the IP address of a PC or another.

Conclusion

We have reached the end of the How-To Geek School’s Guide to Sharing Folders, Libraries & Devices in Windows.

We have covered a lot of ground and we hope that you have learned something new and useful. If you missed any part of this series, or simply want to review something again, you can easily do so by clicking any of the links in the table of contents at the beginning of the article.

Thank you for being great students!

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Ciprian Adrian Rusen is an experienced technology writer and author with several titles published internationally by Microsoft Press. You can connect with him on 7 Tutorials, Twitter, and Google+ or even buy his books on Amazon.

  • Published 04/18/14

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