/Why Cant Windows 10 Find My Shared Network Folders?

Why Cant Windows 10 Find My Shared Network Folders?

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Sharing folders between two computers on your network always feels like it’s more trouble than it’s worth. At least, there’s no guarantee that the process is going to go smoothly, and by the time you’ve troubleshot whatever’s going on, set up your share, and transferred files, well, you might as well have copied them to an external hard drive (or flash drive).

If whatever you’re transferring is way too big to fit on a flash drive, and you don’t have an external hard drive sitting around, it’s time to bite the bullet and deal with network shares. Right on time, here comes Lifehacker reader Roger with this week’s Tech 911 question:

MS dropped support for “Homegroup”. I dropped support from ethernet. Two machines; Win64 & Win32. Wireless ISP using a hotspot. Both machines recognized by hotspot. Win64 can’t see shares on Win32. Win32 sees all shares on Win64. Both machines using USB wireless network adapters

What do I need for Win64 to be able to see Win32???”

I confess, I’ve never used a wifi hotspot at home, so my first inclination would have been to run through its settings and make sure there’s nothing that might be otherwise messing with your systems’ abilities to see one another. However, if one (x86) can see all the shares of the other (x64), then this sounds like a Windows configuration issue more than a problem with your network.

You didn’t mention what version of Windows you’re using, so I’m going to assume it’s Windows 10. (Windows 10 doesn’t have Homegroups, after all, so it feels like a fair guess.)

To get started troubleshooting, I’d first explore your sharing settings on your 32-bit Windows system (x86). Pull up the Control Panel, change the view from “category” to large or small icons, and click on “Network and Sharing Center.” Then, click on “Change advanced sharing settings” on the left-hand sidebar.

Screenshot: David Murphy

Within this screen, make sure you’ve turned on network discovery (and the automatic setup of network connected devices), as well as file and printer sharing.

Click on the “All Networks” menu, and consider enabling public folders—as the name implies, they’ll be viewable by anyone on your network. It’s a security issue if you let others onto your network, since they’ll be able to view anything in those folders as well, but it shouldn’t be an issue if it’s just you (or if you’re just setting up a temporary file transfer between systems).

Take note of the “password protected sharing” option as well. I presume you’re logging in with your 32-bit system’s user account and password when you’re attempting to access it from your 64-bit system. If you’re trying to log in as a separate, specific user, you’ll need to first disable this option.

Save any changes you made, back out to your Control Panel, and pull up your System properties. Both computers should be using the same Workgroup, likely called “WORKGROUP.” If not, click on Advanced System Settings, and then the Computer Name tab, and fix that.

Screenshot: David Murphy

Next, pull up File Explorer on your x86 system. Navigate to the folder you want to share, right-click on it, and select Properties. From there, click on the Sharing tab.

Next, click the Share button. In the screen that appears, you’ll see a list of people (users) that will be allowed to access the share. One should be the current user you’re logged in as, and the other should say “SYSTEM.”

Again, you’ll need to log in as the user on your x86 system, when prompted, or else you won’t be able to actually access any shared folders.

If you’re fine opening up your sharing a bit, consider clicking on the drop-down menu and selecting “EVERYONE,” clicking on “Add,” and then giving “EVERYONE” read/write access to the folder. I find this generally fixes most problems I have with sharing folders in Windows, even though it means that anyone on your network will be able to access that folder without needing to log in as anyone.

Click on the Share button to finish up, and then make sure you copy and paste the network address you’re presented with:

Screenshot: David Murphy

Now, power up your 64-bit PC and launch File Explorer. Click on Network toward the bottom and see if anything appears. If not, you might just have to enter that previous address manually in the address bar, which should (hopefully) pull up your network share.

If you still can’t see anything, and you’re sick of troubleshooting, you have a few other options. You could use a service like Sharedrop.io to transfer your files from one system or another. Or, for that matter, you could just install a cloud-sync service like Dropbox and log into it from both computers. (Make sure you enable LAN sync in Dropbox’s settings to make your the transfers go faster.) OneDrive is an option, too, and it’s built directly into Windows 10.


Do you have a tech question keeping you up at night? Tired of troubleshooting your Windows or Mac? Looking for advice on apps, browser extensions, or utilities to accomplish a particular task? Let us know! Tell us in the comments below or email david.murphy@lifehacker.com.