Windows – “file sharing” vs “File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks”

file-sharingnetwork-printerwindowswindows-vista

What's the difference between "file sharing" (first image) and "File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks" (second image) ?

enter image description here

enter image description here

Initially I thought they were the same thing – just a different UI – so turning one off would turn the other off and turning one on would turn the other on.

However after experimenting, I found that they are in fact independent of each other. What's the difference between them?

Best Answer

  • The "File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks" component is the software that provides the file sharing functionality. However, just because the software is installed doesn't mean that sharing is enabled.

    The first dialog box says "To turn off file sharing, Windows Firewall will be enabled" so I conclude that the function of that dialog is to configure the Windows Firewall to either allow or disallow file sharing.

    Functionally, this means that file sharing has to be on in both places in order to work.