This tip is on sharing files and folders on a local network in Windows XP. It has been tested on Windows XP Professional (with and without SP2).
Many users of WinXP have experienced difficulty in sharing files and folders over our college network whether or not simple file sharing is enabled. The approach that I have found to work consistently is:
1. Disable simple file sharing from My Computer --> Tools menu --> Folder Options --> View tab --> Advanced Settings
2. Open Control Panel --> Administrative Tools --> Services. Enable the Server service by making startup Automatic or Manual. This is a standard service needed for sharing files and folders under WinXp.
3. Open Control Panel --> Administrative Tools --> Computer Management. Scroll to System Tools --> Shared Folders --> Shares. From Action menu, select 'Add share' and follow the instructions.
4. You may also want to add users to Administrator or other groups for shared folder access. Under Computer Management, scroll to Local Users and Groups. To add user to Administrator group, select the group name and choose Add from Action menu. This can also be used to add domain users as local admins.
Sharing files on computers directly connected to Internet is not recommended. However, restrict access to specific users using above procedure mitigates security risks.