Windows XP File and Printer Sharing HELL - Firewall configuration - McAfee

12 Aug 2009
Posted by Laptop Junction

Sharing files and printers on a local Microsoft windows network can be hell. Specially when there are firewalls involved blocking the required local communication. Here's a few bits and pieces how to get file and printer sharing going again on an Internet connected Windows XP machine. In this case with McAfee Security Center, Firewall and Virus Scanner.

From start it was clear McAfee firewall configuration got in between, but in a nasty way with the stench of bad programming. Disabling the firewall resumed file & printer sharing but left the machine unprotected while connected to the Internet. With Microsoft's reputation of distributing Windows versions with seriously flawed network security it's NOT GOOD to have no firewall active. When file & printer sharing doesn't work even with firewall disabled most likely the service for "file and printer" in network adapter properties is not running, set properly of tampered with. It's best to work on that first before looking further.

Windows Xp File Printer network sharing service

Check if File and Printer sharing for Microsoft Networks is selected.


Printers and files are not shared

The sharing problem manifested itself in several ways. First was the inability to browse the local network. The Windows network Group couldn't be browsed resulting in a notification there were insufficient rights to do so.
When a 3rd computer joined the windows workgroup, the local network could be browsed however the XP machine that should share it's files and printers didn't show in the local network.

Secondly when trying to access the XP machine for file and printer sharing directly, all attempts failed. The local machine name didn,'t resolve using Start- Run - \\machine-name or Start - Run - \\Ip-Address.
That's a clear indication the response required to these network requests is blocked or goes sour in some way.

Thirdly, XP machines that had the same McAfee version running but were not directly connected to the internet didn't have all the of the above problems. Sharing of files and printers worked out of the box even with McAfee installed. It seems McAfee Security Center does make a difference for XP machines that have direct access to the Internet - McAfee firewall is running in a different and more secured mode.
Great! But what's wrong with just showing that in the McAfee security center?

That's a very nasty programming job and only add's to confusion of trying to configure an already seriously flawed OS like Windows. On top of that, most XP machines are directly connected to the Internet through a router / modem so many have to deal with file and printer sharing problems. For those who are indirectly connect to the internet through a Internet server or a simple XP machine sharing it's internet connection on a local network, McAfee Firewall doesn't block file / printer sharing.

Firewall settings to enable file and printer sharing for local Windows Networks

Anyhow, the file & printer sharing blockade on the local network got resolved by changing 3 McAfee Firewall settings.

  1. Trusted network - Set the local network IP range to "Trusted" iso "Public".
    This made all machines on the local network non-supicious, but this not enough to get
    file and printer sharing going again.

    McAfee Firewall trusted network-IP range setting
  2. Enable File sharing service - Netbios Traffic on TCP/IP ports 137 - 139.
    This setting made the XP machine with the file and printer shared visible again in the local
    network workgroup. But still not enough to enable file and printer sharing.

    McAfee Firewall setting file sharing enabled local network port 137-139

  3. Enable directory service - Microsoft Directory Service on TCP/IP port 445
    Finally this setting allowed a local network machine to browse the shared files and to connect to
    local shared printers.

    McAfee Firewall setting file directory server MSFT-DS local network port 445

Most strange was to discover an active Windows Firewall with McAfee Firewall also active. At least it reported this way in the advanced tab of the local network adapter properties. In the above case the Windows Firewall was set to off manually. 

McAfee version information

Below the McAfee version used.

McAfee version security center firewall virus scanner