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Can't Access Other Shared Drives When a Local User Password is Set


A customer reported the following issue:

"I set user passwords on all the machines last night so as to prevent people just walking in and using the machines, the effect of this is that no one can access any shared drives. I have removed the passwords and they seem to be eventually going back to normal.

"Why would me setting a user password cause this issue and how do I work around this as we want to be able to log out at the end of the day?"

The Problem

This problem is due to the client originally having a peer to peer network running Windows XP Home Edition (the same principle applies to Windows 7 and Windows 8 non business editions as well though).

As they grew in size, they required a server - we specified SBS 2003 at the time, as being the most appropriate for their needs. However, they weren't willing to stump up the cost of upgrading their desktop operating systems to XP Professional (not uncommon with small business!) - so we were forced to configure non-domain attached pc's to be able to talk to the server. This was achieved by configuring identical local users and server users - and they didn't want to be have to type a password when they logged on either! So all users were configured with blank passwords - the rationale being that no machines had external access, the server was not configured to allow remote connectivity of any kind, and the customer insisted that all machines would be behind locked doors when not in use.

Of course requirements change (and good sense prevails), and the customer eventually did want to set passwords - the problem was resolved in the short term by setting passwords identically on both client and server machines, and in the longer term by gradually replacing all home operating systems at end of life with their professional equivalent.

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