This month, let's look at a partial solution to an old problem: an all-in-one manager for file shares. The operant words are partial solution, though. Perhaps this field offers an opportunity for an enterprising utility developer.
Windows NT's GUI-based approach to file shares is simple and intuitive. You open My Computer or NT Explorer, right-click the directory you want to share, and select Sharing. A dialog box appears, you make a few choices, and in seconds you've set up a shared volume.
A Problem Finding Shares
Although this process is convenient, you'll eventually stumble upon a problem you wouldn't expect to have when managing a computer's file shares. You look at a server in Network Neighborhood, and you notice a share that you don't remember. Where, you might wonder, did that Datac share come from? You vaguely recall creating it a year ago for some temporary purpose, but you can't recall its value. You decide to get rid of it.
At the file server, you open My Computer and poke around the C and D drives, but you can't find a shared folder named Datac—there's no white hand with the blue sleeve on any of the folders. After some digging, you find a shared directory named C:\Files\Junk\Datac. How do you shorten this search process and quickly find a share path, given only its share name? One way is to use ShareUI.
In the directory in which you installed the Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 Resource Kit, you'll see the file shareui.inf. Right-click the file, and select Install. In a couple of seconds, you've installed ShareUI.
To see ShareUI in action, open My Computer. You'll see a new folder named Shared Directories. Open it, and you'll notice an array of white-hand icons, one for each share in the system, including the administrative shares. Double-click any icon, and you'll get a dialog box displaying the share's name. This dialog box will show you that elusive share path you've been searching for, as well as a User Limit adjustment box and a key that lets you view and modify the permissions (sadly, no NTFS permissions) on the share.
You can also use ShareUI to control shares on other machines from your computer. Navigate to the remote computer in Network Neighborhood, open the computer, and you'll find another Shared Directories folder. Open it, and you'll see that it looks identical to the folder you just looked at on the local computer. (ShareUI doesn't need to be running on the remote computer.)
A Fly in the Soup
I found an odd bug while I was examining an existing share's properties. I had a share whose local directory path was F:\Presentations that I'd created with the share name presents. When I used ShareUI to examine the share's properties, both the field that displayed the path (F:\Presentations) and the share name (presents) permitted editing. I easily changed the share's name from presents to powerpoints. The share's name changed immediately, and I had no problem using the new share name to connect to this renamed share from a remote system.
I then tried changing the path field from F:\Presentations to F:\Stuff, although no directory named Stuff existed on the F drive. ShareUI complained that it couldn't find the specified file (I think the error-message author meant path). I cancelled the operation. Oddly enough, canceling the operation removed the current powerpoints share. Not a huge bug, but an unexpected one.
Although ShareUI is a useful tool, it is missing a few components. NTFS permission control would be a helpful addition, as would a directory-browsing ability you could use when you create shares on remote machines.