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Top 10 reasons why computers do not have network access to each other

In Windows XP professional one of my computers has access to the second one but the second computer has no access window asking for the password. Do you have any idea what might be the problem?

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In this type of environment there are a plethora of options that might contribute to permissions or access not being granted. I've taken the liberty to outline my top 10 list of reasons why the two machines are not speaking the same language. In no particular order, I give you my top 10 reasons why computers do not have access to each other:

10. The computers are not in the same network or workgroup. Verify that both machines are in the appropriate network or workgroup. From the description here it sounds like they should be assigned to the same workgroup or domain.

9. The appropriate user accounts are not created on the machines. It sounds like perhaps there is a mismatch between user accounts on the machines. This could be corrected if the machines are both members of a domain and the authorized users are authenticated through Active Directory.

8. The sharing permissions are not established correctly. Each remote network share has a set of permissions. Often a username and password prompt appears when the logged in user is not authorized to access the share. Make sure that the user account is authorized to see the network share.

7. The file access permissions are not set up correctly. When setting up machines, ensure that file access permissions allow for remote users to access the data on the machine.

6. Directories are not shared. It does not sound like your problem but often the files you are trying to access are not shared. Right click on the machine and ensure that sharing is enabled.

5. Domain polices are not applied to both machines uniformly. If the machines are a member of the domain, domain policies may not be pushed to both boxes. You can refresh the group policy definitions through some commandline utilities. One Active Directory to rule them all.

4. One machine does not allow remote access. Is file and printer sharing enabled?

3. User is not member of the appropriate group. Make sure that the user trying to access the data on the remote machine has sharing privileges. Often they need to be a member of the administrators group to access Administrative shares on remote servers or workstations.

2. Invalid password. Thus authentication is not successful. Could it be a typo in password or authentication credentials? Who hasn't fat fingered a password a time or two? Or three or 4? (ahem. That's probably only happened to me)

1. And the number one reason why you may not have access to both machines: There's a configuration error of unknown origin. The best recommendation is to ensure that these machines are in the same workgroup, have the exact same user accounts and group memberships…And lest we all forget: when in doubt -- reboot!

This was first published in August 2009

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