In all operating systems since Windows 95, Microsoft has done a very good thing, and separated client and server functions. When Client for Microsoft Networks is installed, it allows your system to make requests from network servers. It does not, however, allow other systems to make requests of this same system. In other words, client for Microsoft Networks allows a system to make requests. To service requests for files or printers, another service needs to be configured – File and Print Sharing. Accessed via the Network program in Control Panel, the File and Print Sharing button allows you to configure your system to handle requests for files, print services, or both. It’s worth noting that this is potentially a very dangerous service to configure on your system, especially if your PC is not properly secured and connected to the Internet. For example, if you were connected to the Internet and has this service enabled without a firewall of some type, outsiders would potentially be able to browse through any folders you might have shared.
Of course, file and printer sharing is a big part of having a home network, and once your Internet connection is properly secured, will not be a worry. Once enabled, file sharing gives you the ability to share folders, making them available to other clients on the network. The same goes for printer sharing. Anything that you do not explicitly share will not be available over the network, but anything that you do share will be there for the whole network to see – and potentially connect to, assuming you haven’t restricted resources with permissions.