How do you browse the network neighbourhood in windows 7?

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This topic contains 7 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  W7NOmoronovo 2 years, 11 months ago.

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August 1, 2011 at 12:15 pm #86420

ntadmin2
Member

I administer a small network, recently i’ve upgraded to windows 7 – it’s giving me headaches. How do you browse the network neighbourhood to find other computers on the lan?

I have just installed a new win7 pc – it’s our new disaster recovery pc so it will live off-site. With the last disaster recovery pc (XP) I plugged into the office lan, browsed network neighbourhood, double-clicked on the main file server and logged in, installed various apps, then took it offsite. Jobdone.

With this one on Windows7 I cannot find the main file server through any gui. (I specifically do not want to add it to the domain as i only need to attach to the main file server during the build, after that it will live off site and never connect to the domain again). In the end i gave up and used the command line and did a ‘net use’ statement to map straight to the share. But what about when you don’t know the share name or don’t know the server name? I figured there must be a way of browsing the network in 7?

August 1, 2011 at 1:27 pm #90132

W7NOmoronovo
Member

What used to be called "Network Neighbourhood" in XP was simply renamed "Network" in Windows Vista and Windows 7. See the following screenshots for locations of it.

The "Network" folder is listed on the treebar of Explorer. By default, it is not listed in the start menu, but by right clicking the start button, going to properties > start menu tab > customize and selecting the "network" checkbox, you can also make it appear there.

Explorer: [img:12ehpubc]http://i.imgur.com/DpFSVs.jpg[/img:12ehpubc][/url:12ehpubc] Start Menu: [img:12ehpubc]http://i.imgur.com/ti5tus.jpg[/img:12ehpubc][/url:12ehpubc]

Remember, in order for machines to show up here, you have got to ensure the machines are on the same network subnet and workgroup (for non-domain machines). Additionally, network discovery and file sharing must be enabled, or the network will show up as empty.

Let us know if you have any issues.

August 1, 2011 at 6:04 pm #90133

W7NOmoronovo
Member

I’m going to set up a small virtual network to try to find some more specific help for you.

I have a few hunches as to where the problem lies, but I would rather have something more definitive before giving you advice.

May I ask how long today you will be available for? It will take me at least 3 hours to set up the 4 virtual machines I’ll need to test my theories.
I’m assuming that the domain is running on a 2003/2003 R2 domain controller and is primarily filled with XP Pro 32-bit clients?

August 1, 2011 at 9:18 pm #90134

W7NOmoronovo
Member

I believe I have discovered a solution. Firstly: Am I right in thinking that the domain you’re connected to has disabled File and Printer Sharing exception via Active Directory? The default is disabled, so unless it has been *explicitly* enabled on your domain, this is the most likely cause. Please note that this entry does NOT disable the ability to access shares; it simply disables broadcasting of these shares.

You can fix this issue by making a single change to the group policy setting for the network. In Group Policy Object Editor, navigate to computer configuration > administrative templates > network >network connections >windows firewall >domain profile. Modify the value "Windows Firewall: Allow file and printer sharing exception" from disabled or not configured to "enabled", and correctly set the subnet.

This is the most plausible explanation I’ve found for it:
Windows 7 will not show computers under "Network" which do not respond to Netbios name requests, because it defaults to SMB 2.1(2.0 compatible) requests, which were introduced in Windows Vista. In order for Windows Vista and Windows 7 machines to directly "view" machines using SMB1 (older than vista), they must have ports 137, 138, and 139 active to directly respond and show as being ONLY compatible with SMB1.
Since Windows XP and older do not have SMB2.1/2.0 support, this is never an issue in those cases – The have no choice but to use SMB1, meaning it functions correctly "by default".

SMB2/2.1 is a far, far more efficient protocol, so I can understand it being the default under Windows 7 and Vista, but with a little tweak you can easily configure your domain to operate with Windows 7 clients, as it did with Windows XP.

Please let me know if this information helps.

August 3, 2011 at 9:58 am #90137

ntadmin2
Member

Hi Omoronovo

Sorry I wasn’t at this site yesterday….
Wow, you’ve really looked into this one – thanks a lot.
Yes definitely File & Printer Sharing will be disabled by default.
(i do too many networks to change defaults unless i have to!).
Yes your assumption is correct, here there are 2 win2003 32bit domain controllers, a few win2003 64bit member servers and WinXP 32bit clients (tho they are all moving to windows7).

Your explanation sounds very plausible. I am going to check the settings on the domain controller right now.

August 6, 2011 at 5:15 pm #90141

W7NOmoronovo
Member

Let me know if it fixes the issue.

I still have the machines I previously set up, so if you have any further issues, please let me know.

August 8, 2011 at 4:29 pm #90143

ntadmin2
Member

Hi Omoronovo

Yes, file and print sharing are disabled by default. Tempting as it is I am not going to enable it through group policy domain-wide. The auditors would go crazy!
I built another Windows7 pc over the weekend, it was exactly the same scenario, I could see other Win7 boxes but nothing else. Unfortunately I had the user waiting to log-in as soon as it was ready (it’s a busy time) so I had no time to play. The minute I joined the domain I could see all the servers – no doubt via Active Directory. So that is in line with the File&Print sharing theory.
I am building the next Win7 box right now, and this time I should have some time to experiment with it before joining the domain. I’ll let you know how it goes….

August 8, 2011 at 7:53 pm #90145

W7NOmoronovo
Member

If you have a machine with a lot of memory (12gb+) you could set up a small virtual network like I did to test the theory.

Also remember that the group policy configurations restrict it to specific net ranges – so if authenticated users get assigned a different ip block via dhcp, you would be able to selectively allow those computers to browse the network whilst disallowing everything else.

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