Allowing Unauthenticated Access to Windows Shares

1 01 2012

At my job, we have a Windows-based test environment on a standalone Active Directory domain. I wanted to allow users to to access file shares within the test domain from their computers on other domains without being prompted for credentials. (Since it’s a test environment, I don’t really care about security.)

Google sent me on a wild goose chase into the Local Security Policy, but the solution was deceptive simple. It turns out that when you connect to a file share on another domain, the server tries to authenticate you with the local Guest account. The problem is that by default, Windows (correctly) disables the Guest account. You can enable it from Computer Management (Start > Run > compmgmt.msc):

Next, you have to update the permissions on the share and the NTFS permissions on the underlying folder so that Guest will have access. Guest is a member of the Everyone group, so if you grant permission to Everyone, you should be good to go. If you want to set special permissions for Guest — maybe you only want to grant anonymous users read-only access — you can do that too. Just make sure to grant the permission to either the local Guest account or the local Guests group, not the domain Guest account:


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