XP gives you too little networking

I've had an enormously irritating connection problem on my office network (a workgroup peer-to-peer Windows network) for the past year or so. There's one machine on the network, called Fido, that refuses to play with the others. When I work on Fido, I can get "out" to anything on the network: shared folders, printers, drives all work fine. But when the table's turned when I try to get into Fido from any other machine on the network I can't.

Other PCs "see" Fido, no problem: if I list all the computers in the network, Fido appears on the list, sits up and barks. If I try to double-click on Fido, though, I get a long pause, followed by a message telling me that Fido is unavailable. If that sounds like a problem you've encountered, read on. There's a solution.

With a bit of trial and error, I found that I could get into specific shared folders, printers, drives and the like, but I had to refer to them directly: if I tried to open \\Fido\shareddocs from another network computer, Windows took a century, but sooner or later, the shared folder opened. I could add a network printer called \\Fido\HPPSC, if I typed in the name and didn't try to convince Windows to "find" it. With a workaround in hand, I gave up trying to find a solution. Fido's lack of communication just festered another one of those inexplicable Windows problems that you just learn to live with.

Then, last week, I bumped into an article in Fred Langa's Langa List newsletter (which, it should be noted, I read religiously and recommend wholeheartedly). Fred published a brief follow-up from a reader named Manny that described a problem which seemed only tangentially related to the one I'd been experiencing.

Manny's advice: In the Registry, under HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Lsa, change the value of restrictanonymous to 0 instead of 1 or 2. Don't change restrictanonymoussam. This is documented in KB article 246261.

I tried it, and Fido sat up, barked and started wagging his workgroup tail.

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Last Modified: March 9, 2008