Monday, March 14, 2016

Diagnosing Windows File and Printer Share

When we find that the Windows File and Printer Share does not work as we desire, e.g., you may observe an error as follows,

System error 53 has occurred.

The network path was not found.

many factors can contribute to the problem, commonly,
  • Name resolution including both Domain Name Resolution (DNS) and NetBIOS Name Resolution
  • Windows Firewall
I find that it is efficient to follow the steps below to diagnose the problems, where we assume that a resource, "MYSHARE" is shared on a remote host with DNS name "MYHOST.MYDOMAIN.COM", NetBIOS name "MYHOST", and IP address ""
  1. Disable Windows Firewall on the remote host
  2. Check any of special hidden administrative shares is accessible on the client host using the remote host's IP address, e.g.,
    net use \\\Admin$

    If the resource is accessible, you will be prompted for username or password, e.g.,
    C:\>net use \\\admin$
    The password is invalid for \\\Admin$.
    Enter the user name for '':

  3. If Step 2 fails,it is likely that you have forgotten to share the resource. Follow the Microsoft's guideline to share the resource.
  4. If Step 2 succeeds, check if the remote host's NetBIOS name registered and resolved on the client host,
    C:\>nbtstat -a myhost

    Depending on the number of interfaces that the client machine has, it may take a while. Regardless, it should show that the NetBIOS Name "myhost" should be registered on the network interface via which the remote machine is accessible, e.g.,
    Ethernet 3:
    Node IpAddress: [] Scope Id: []
               NetBIOS Remote Machine Name Table
           Name               Type         Status
        MYHOST         <20>  UNIQUE      Registered
        MYHOST         <00>  UNIQUE      Registered
        WORKGROUP      <00>  GROUP       Registered
        WORKGROUP      <1e>  GROUP       Registered
        MAC Address = 66-11-22-33-44-55
    where we assume the client host's IP address is

  5. If Step 4 fails, you must set up the NetBIOS name properly on the remote host by following Microsoft's guideline. You may also refer to this article on NetBIOS naming.
  6. Then, you can now try to access the shared resource on the remote host using the resource name and the remote host's NetBIOS name. The resource should be in the form of "\\MYHOST\MYSHARE".
    net use \\MYHOST\MYSHARE

    Or, if you need to provide a different Windows credential,

  7. Now enable Windows Firewall and repeat Step 6. If Step 6 is successful, the Windows Firewall has already been configured to allow the Windows File and Printer share. If not, allow the Windows File and Printer Share in the Window Firewall, following the Windows guideline.

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