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How to share a folder on a private network in Windows 10

There may come a time when you want to share some files with someone on your private network. Maybe a document, spreadsheet, or a picture of your favorite pet. Here's how to share a folder across your private network in Windows 10.

How to share a folder on a private network in Windows 10

Note: Do not set up a shared folder if your computer is a laptop, and you use public WiFi Internet access at coffee shops, airports, etc.! The risk of being hacked and having the security of your laptop compromised is too high. These instructions are only for computers that are attached to private networks.

It may seem like a fairly easy thing to do to share a folder, but it can quickly become a problem. So what I am going to do is to go the steps of sharing a folder on a private network in Windows 10. Then we'll look at some of the things that may cause a problem. Let's get started.

The first thing we need to do is open File Explorer. There are several different ways to do this. You can:

  • Left-click on the File Explorer icon on the Taskbar (manilla folder).
  • Type File Explorer in the Cortana search box and left-click on File Explorer in the search results.
  • Right-click on the Start button and left-click on File Explorer from the Power User menu.
  • Press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + E.

Once you have File Explorer open, you need to find the folder you want to share. Navigate to This PC in the left-hand column, then to the local disk drive (usually C:\), then to the folder you want to share.

Keep in mind that you cannot share a complete drive (like C:\), only folders on it. You also cannot share mapped network folders either. You can only share folders located on your computer. For this demonstration, I am going to use a folder named Shared Folder.

I have located Shared Folder on my Local Disk C:\ drive, and I'm going to right-click on it and select Properties.
View of context menu for shared folder inside of File Explorer
I'm going to left-click on the Sharing tab
View of sharing tab for shared folder properties
and left-click on the Share button.
View of network access dialog box for shared folder
This brings up a Network access dialog box.

Your username should already be there with Owner permissions. You can keep just your username in the permissions box, but anyone trying to access that folder will need to have your username and password get into it. And if you don't use a password to log into your computer (local account), then you'll have to create a new user on your computer.

But if you just want to share the files and aren't worried about anybody seeing them, you can just let Everyone have access. By giving Everyone access, you don't have to have a password to get into the folder. But you will have to choose if you want Everyone to have Read or Read/Write permissions.

Either way, left-click on the pull-down menu and select either Everyone or Create a new user. If you decide to create a new user, the User Account dialog box appears. Left-click on Manage another account. On the next dialog box that appears, select Add a new user in PC settings. Then left-click on the plus (+) sign next to Add someone else to this PC and fill out the forms that follow.

Once you have another username in the Network access dialog box and have chosen the permission level,
View of network access dialog box for shared folder with everyone selected
left-click on the Share button in the lower right-hand corner. Then you will get a confirmation that the folder is now shared. Left-click on the Done button in the lower right-hand corner.

You are ready to go. You can either close the folder properties dialog box or add more sharing options like multiple share names or custom permissions using the Advanced Sharing button. But for basic folder sharing, you are all set.

Now let's find out if we can see the shared folder on your private network. You will need the name of your computer for this next step. Right-click on the Start menu and left-click on System on the Power User menu. Make a note of the device name in the right-hand column.

Next, go to another computer that is on the same private network and bring up File Explorer using the steps outlined earlier in this article. This time, instead of expanding the This PC folder in the left side column, we want to go down and left-click on the Network folder.

If you get a warning across the top of the File Explorer that says Network discovery is not turned on, left-click on it to activate it. Sometimes Windows 10 will mistakenly classify a private network as public. If you get a warning that the network you are on is not a private network, select the Make this network private.

The name of your computer should now show up under the Computer category of Network. If it does, double left-click on it, and you should now see the folder you shared and all of the files inside of it.

If you don't see your computer listed under Network, there are a couple of things you might want to check on your computer. The first thing to look for is a third-party firewall, like Norton or McAfee, that might be blocking access.

If you granted Everyone access to your shared folder, you can turn off password protected sharing under advanced sharing settings. Just right-click on the Start menu and left-click on Network Connections on the Power User menu. In the right-hand column left-click on Network and Sharing Center. On the screen that appears, left-click on Change advanced sharing settings.

Under All Networks find Password protected sharing and select Turn off password protected sharing. Go back to the other computer and try to access the shared folder on your computer under Networks. You should be able to view and open all of the files inside of it.

How to get a free Windows 10 upgrade for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1

Many people took advantage of the Get Windows 10 upgrade promotion, and some did not. If you are one of those who did not get your version of Windows 7 / Windows 8.1 upgrade for free, you still have an opportunity to do so. Here is how to get a free Windows 10 upgrade for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1.

How to get a free Windows 10 upgrade for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1

It has been a few years since Microsoft ran the Get Windows 10 promotion, and now you think you might like to get your version of Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 upgraded to Windows 10. The question is now, should you upgrade your computer to Windows 10?

If you think so, I will let you know a little secret. You can still get the upgrade for free. But there is a particular way you have to go about doing it. And there are some prerequisites you have to meet first.

First, your computer needs to be running a legally licensed, not pirated version of Windows 7 Service Pack 1 or Windows 8.1. The key here is running, as you will need to start the upgrade process from inside of Windows. In essence, you will perform what we call an in-place upgrade.

And since this is an in-place upgrade, you will need to know what edition of Windows you have. Just open a Run dialog box, type Winver and left-click on OK. It will list the Windows edition in the About Windows screen that appears. Here are the upgrade paths.

  • If you have Windows 7 Starter, Windows 7 Home Basic, Windows 7 Home Premium, or Windows 8.1 Home Basic, you will upgrade to Windows 10 Home.
  • If you have Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Ultimate, or Windows 8.1 Professional, you will upgrade to Windows 10 Professional.
  • If you have Windows 7 Enterprise or Windows 8.1 Enterprise, you will upgrade to Windows 10 Enterprise.

Second, your computer needs to meet the hardware requirements for Windows 10. Most computers running Windows 7 / 8.1 already meet the requirements, but there are exceptions. There are specific graphics processors known to be incompatible.

But the only way you will find out is by starting the upgrade process. The Windows 10 installer will run a check for hardware that will not work with Windows 10 and will allow you to stop the upgrade or continue.

If it turns out that the on-board graphics processor in your desktop computer is incompatible, you can always install an inexpensive (under $50) PCI-e graphics card (if you have an open PCI-e slot). Here is how to add an expansion card to your desktop computer. If your laptop has an incompatible graphics processor, you cannot upgrade it to Windows 10.

But there are a few things I recommend doing before starting the upgrade process. Checking for drive errors, cleaning up your drive, and uninstalling third-party anti-virus/malware software are just a few. And I recommend creating a full backup only in case something goes wrong. Just follow steps #2 through #6 in this article, seven things to do before and after upgrading to Windows 10.

Now there is a dirty little secret about upgrading to Windows 10 that nobody ever talks about, and that is the recovery media. Almost every computer comes with a hidden partition that has the original software that came pre-loaded with the machine.

When you perform an upgrade to Windows 10, the setup program will replace it with a copy of Windows 10. So, if you ever want to go back to the Windows version that came with your computer, you will need to create the recovery media before doing the upgrade. Check out the section 'Make the recovery media' in the following article, five things you should do first when you get a new computer.

Now, you have everything you need to take care of, and you are ready to start the Windows 10 upgrade. Since this will be an 'in-place upgrade', you will need the Windows 10 installation media. Let's make it.

The first thing you have to do is download and run the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool. This program can do a direct upgrade or create the Windows 10 media (USB or ISO file).
Windows 10 installer what do you want to do screen
I recommend creating the media (either USB or ISO). That way, you will have a copy of Windows 10, just in case you need it in the future.

The next thing you need to do is select what language, architecture, and edition you want to install.
Windows 10 installer select language and edition screen
If the Use the recommended options for this PC checkbox is on the bottom, make sure it has a checkmark inside it. If not, refer to the edition information you collected earlier.

You will need either a blank DVD or a USB drive that is 8GB or larger. The Windows 10 Media Creation Tool will format a USB drive and make it ready to use.
Windows 10 installer choose which media to use screen
If you download an ISO file, you will need to burn it to a DVD. Here is how to burn an ISO file to a disk.

There are a couple of reasons to install from media (USB or DVD) and not the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool. The #1 reason is you can always restart the installation if you need to take care of an issue or two.

Once you have the installation media created, you will have to start the upgrade by running the setup program located at the root of the installation media.
Windows 10 setup program in File Explorer
I recommend opening File Explorer and right-clicking on setup.exe and selecting Run as administrator.

The first screen that appears tells you that Windows 10 is going online to get updates, drivers, and optional features.
Windows 10 setup program prompting to download updates
If you click on the Change how Windows Setup downloads updates link, you can choose to download the updates or wait until later.
Windows 10 setup program update download options
You will be downloading the updates either way, so it is strictly your call. But I have found that a lot of the errors associated with the upgrade process can be avoided by waiting until the upgrade is complete before downloading and installing updates.

At some point, the installation will check the hardware and software installed. If it finds any incompatible software, like an anti-virus program, you may have to cancel the upgrade and remove the software.

If the installation finds incompatible hardware, you may have to cancel the upgrade to resolve the issue. Either way, you may be able to continue the update, but that depends on how critical the Windows 10 installer finds the software/hardware issue to be.

Once the upgrade is in process, it may take a couple of hours to complete. When the Windows 10 upgrade is complete, the original product key for your old version of Windows will be converted and uploaded to the cloud. It is called digital entitlement.

And if you ever need to reinstall Windows 10, all you have to do is download the latest version using the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool. It is the one Windows 10 feature you hope you never have to use.

How to speed up Windows 10 using ReadyBoost

Are you looking for an inexpensive way to give your Windows 10 computer a boost in performance? Do you have a USB flash drive and a spare USB port on your computer? Then ReadyBoost in Windows 10 might be a perfect solution.

How to speed up Windows 10 using ReadyBoost

If you have never heard of ReadyBoost, it is a program that caches files that are frequently used by Windows 10. It stores the cached data on USB flash drive(s) or SD memory card.

ReadyBoost utilizes a service called SuperFetch. SuperFetch uses an algorithm to determine which files should be stored in the cache. The cache can include system files, application files, and user documents.

When Windows 10 needs to access any of these frequently used files, it goes to the ReadyBoost cache instead of the disk drive. If a file gets changed on the disk drive, it also gets changed in the cache and visa versa.

Now it is recommended that you use only USB flash drives for ReadyBoost for desktop computers. You can use a USB 2 or USB 3 port, but since a USB 3 port has a faster transfer rate, I recommenced using one if you have one. But you can use an SD memory card for a laptop computer, as long as it has a fast-enough transfer rate.

And you can use more than one (1) USB flash drive for ReadyBoost. The recommended ratio between the ReadyBoost cache and system memory is 1:1 to 2.5:1.

So, if your computer has 8GB of memory, you could create a ReadyBoost cache between 8GB and 20GB. But you could use a 32GB flash drive and allocate all of it to ReadyBoost.

Keep in mind that ReadyBoost was developed for use with Hard Disk Drives (HDD) and not Solid State Drives (SSD). HDD's are known to have slower read and write times than SSD's.

ReadyBoost requirements for Windows 10

  • Minimum free space per flash drive/memory card: 1 GB
  • Maximum free spade per flash drive/memory card: 32 GB
  • Minimum transfer rate: 3.5 Mbit/s.
  • The flash drive/memory card format: NTFS

To make sure that your computer is ready to use ReadyBoost, you will need to make sure the SuperFetch (Windows 10 version 1803 or earlier) or SysMain (Windows 10 version 1809 or later) service is running. To check the status of the SuperFetch / SysMain service, follow these steps:

  1. Open a Run dialog box by pressing the Windows logo key Windows logo key + R.
  2. In the Open field type services.msc and then click on OK.
  3. Scroll down the list of services until you find either:
    • SuperFetch
      The status of the SuperFetch inside of Services console
    • or
    • SysMain
      The status of the SysMain inside of Services console
  4. Make sure it is running and set to start Automatically.

You are now ready to set up a USB flash drive or SD memory card for use with ReadyBoost. Just insert the drive into a spare USB port or SD card slot and follow the instructions below.

How to turn ReadyBoost on or off inside of Windows 10

  1. Insert the USB flash drive or SD memory card you want to use with ReadyBoost.
  2. Open File Explorer by using one of the following:
    • Left-click on the manila folder icon to the Taskbar.
    • or
    • Press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + E at the same time.
  3. Navigate to the USB flash drive or SD memory card you want to use with ReadyBoost.
  4. Right-click on the drive you want to use for ReadyBoost.
    The context menu for a USB flash drive with Properties highlighted
  5. From the context menu that appears, left-click on Properties.
  6. On the Properties dialog box, left-click on the ReadyBoost tab.
    The ReadyBoost tab inside of USB flash drive Properties dialog box
  7. Once the system has analyzed the drive, select the options you want to use.

Check your e-mail and more with Mozilla Thunderbird

Are you looking for an e-mail program that has a ton of features? One that has a calendar, task scheduler, and can handle multiple e-mail addresses? Then look no further than Mozilla Thunderbird.

Check your e-mail and more with Mozilla Thunderbird

You probably have heard of Mozilla's popular web browser Firefox, but did you know they also have a great e-mail program, Mozilla Thunderbird? And it has some fantastic features too.

When it comes to free e-mail programs, they usually lack the features that you would find in the corporate standard Microsoft Outlook. Even the e-mail program that comes with Windows 10, Mail, has a limited feature set.

But with Mozilla Thunderbird, you get all sorts of features right out of the box. It includes a calendar, address book, and a task scheduler.

Account settings inside of Mozilla Thunderbird
Account settings inside of Mozilla Thunderbird

When it comes to e-mail, Mozilla Thunderbird can handle multiple e-mail addresses (POP or IMAP) and can send mail in either plain text or HTML format. You can also add signatures (HTML or plain text) for each e-mail account.

Mozilla Thunderbird includes an adaptive junk mail filter for each account; you have to train it using the Junk toolbar. You can also request return receipts, just like in Outlook.

There are also message filters similar to rules in Outlook so that you can automatically process mail as it comes in. You can create folder and sub-folders for local storage too.

When I compared Mozilla Thunderbird to Microsoft Outlook, I found they had almost the same features. Mozilla Thunderbird has a couple of features that Microsoft Outlook does not.

One of those features, just like Mozilla Firefox, is the ability to add more functionally with Add-ons. With Add-ons, you can extend what you can do with Mozilla Thunderbird.

Some Add-ons allow you to connect to a Gmail calendar, sync the address book with Gmail contacts, and create custom menus. And if you want to change the way Thunderbird looks, there are numerous themes too.

The only feature missing from the current version of Mozilla Thunderbird is the ability to import data from Microsoft Outlook. If you want to import Outlook data, you have to first install Thunderbird version 31.8, import your Outlook data, and then upgrade Thunderbird to the current version.

There are versions of Mozilla Thunderbird that run on Windows 7 through Windows 10, Mac OS X 10.9 through Mac OS 10.12, and GNU/Linux. For a complete list of system requirements, see the link below.

As with Mozilla Firefox, Thunderbird is also open source and free for personal/commercial use. Mozilla is a non-profit organization that relies on donations.

So, if you find Mozilla Thunderbird useful, donate to help support the ongoing development of it. Click here to go to their donation page.

For more information on Mozilla Thunderbird, follow the links below.

Mozilla Thunderbird

Mozilla Thunderbird - system requirements

How to make your computer look and run like brand-new

For most people, there is nothing better than a brand-new computer. But of course, you cannot get a new computer every few months. But you can get that same feeling. Here is how to make your computer look and run like brand-new.

How to make your computer look and run like brand new

For most of us, getting a brand-new computer every year is not financially possible. It would be nice, but realistically it is out of the question. But with a little work, you can get that brand-new feeling from your existing computer.

Looking brand-new

Perception is everything. If it looks new to you, it will feel new to you. And with a little cleaning and maybe a couple of hardware changes, it can look brand-new.

The first place to start is with the keyboard. Most keyboards are black and will show dirt and grim like no tomorrow. You will be amazed at how a good cleaning will make it appear brand new.

A really dirty keyboard before cleaning
A filthy keyboard before cleaning

Now when cleaning your keyboard, you will need to turn off your computer. That way, you do not accidentally press the wrong keys. I have seen it happen, especially with laptops with FN keys.

Since most of us eat while we work, compressed air can help dislodge anything that may have gotten in between or under the keys. A good spray of compressed air should get rid of the massive debris.

When it comes to psychically cleaning the keyboard, remember that liquid and electronics do not mix. Never spray a cleaning solution directly on your keyboard. Always apply it to the cleaning material (cotton swab, paper towel, etc.) first.

Lightly dampen a cotton swab or paper towel with a cleaning solution and ring out any excess liquid before cleaning. It may take some time to clean all of the keys, but remember how long it took to get them dirty (months? years?).

That same dirty keyboard after being cleaned
That same dirty keyboard after being cleaned

Now, if the printing has faded or worn off, maybe it is time to go ahead and replace the keyboard. Desktop keyboards are easy to replace; laptop keyboards can be a little harder. For new laptop keyboards, I recommend LaptopKeyboard.com.

When it comes to your mouse, the body will get dirty, and the buttons get looking worn. The same cleaning technique used for your keyboard applies to your mouse.

If it is a wired mouse, turn off the computer. If it is wireless, turn it off. Clean both the top and bottom with a lightly dampened paper towel. Use a lightly damped cotton swab to clean the optical lens on the bottom.

The next thing you might want to clean is the monitor. As with the keyboard and mouse, you will want to turn it off, unplug it and let it cool down. Once it is cooled down, you can start to clean it.

Just like with your keyboard, you want to start cleaning your monitor with some compressed air. If your monitor is dusty, you may want to take it outside before clean it with compressed air.

Use the compressed air to clean out all of the ventilation holes in the case. Make sure you get as much of the grime out as you can, as dust does conduct electricity.

Now lightly dampen a paper towel with a cleaning solution and wipe the outside of the case. When you get done with that, it is time to clean the screen.

To clean the screen, I recommend using a soap-based, not ammonia-based, glass cleaner, and microfiber towels to protect the finish. Never directly apply the glass cleaner to the screen to prevent damage to it.

Lightly dampen a microfiber towel with glass cleaner and thoroughly wipe the screen. Now before it has a chance to dry, wipe the screen off with a dry micro-fiber towel to remove any streaks that may have appeared.

The last thing to clean is the outside of the computer case itself. Please make sure you turn it off and unplug the power cord (desktop computer) or ac adapter (laptop computer) before you start to clean it.

Lightly dampen a paper towel with a cleaning solution and wipe down the outside (front, sides, top, bottom, and back). If you have any old and faded stickers, this would be a great time to remove them.

To remove stickers, I recommend using an adhesive remover like Goof Off. Just make sure the area with the label is laying completely horizontal, so you can let the adhesive remover sit on it for a little while.

Once you have let the adhesive remover soak in, use a plastic razor blade or plastic putty knife to scrape the label off. If the sticker has been on there for a while, it may take a few passes to get it removed.

When all of the labels are gone, go ahead and clean it with a paper towel with a cleaning solution. You want to get any residue from the adhesive remover off.

The next thing we want to do is clean the inside of the computer with some compressed air. For this step, we will need to disconnect all cables attached to the computer and take it outside.

Now the procedure is about the same for desktop and laptop computers. For desktop computers, here is a detailed article we did a little while back on how to clean the dust out of your computer.

The same procedures in the article above apply to laptops as well. All you have to do for a laptop computer is to locate the air intake for the cooling fan(s). But instead of using a nonmetallic rod to hold the cooling fan(s), use a straightened-out paper clip.

Running like brand-new

Now that you have the outside and inside clean, maybe it is time to get the operating system and programs cleaned up. Using the Windows built-in Disk Cleanup tool is an excellent place to start.

Windows 7 Disk Cleanup

Windows 8.1 Disk Cleanup

Windows 10 Disk Cleanup

Once you have used the Disk Cleanup program, you can now look at getting rid of some of the programs you no longer need. You will need to get to the Control Panel to do this. The quickest way to get to the Control Panel is by using the Run dialog box.

How to get to and use the Run dialog box in Windows

My favorite (and the fastest way) to bring up the Run dialog box is to press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + R keys simultaneously. When it appears, type control and then select OK.

When the Control Panel appears, select either Uninstall a program (category view) or Programs and Features (icon view). You can then start to uninstall the programs you no longer use.

Now, if you want your computer to have that brand-new feeling, you can reset Windows 8.1 or Windows 10. The procedure is similar for both Windows 8.1 and Windows 10.

How to reset Windows 10

But if you want that brand-new feeling, a clean installation of Windows is the way to go. Follow the instructions in the following article to perform a clean Windows 10 installation.

How to perform a clean Windows 10 installation

You can use the same procedures listed in the article above for Windows 8.1, but you will have to download the Windows 8.1 Media Creation Tool.

Windows 8.1 Media Creation Tool

You can also do the same for Windows 7, but you need to have a valid product key to download the Windows 7 ISO Image.

Download Windows 7 Disc Image

What you can do with an ISO file

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