Using Group Policy to Enable Network Discovery in a Domain

If you use Windows Vista or Windows 7 in a domain, you’ll notice that users probably can’t browse network resources such as file shares.  Also, when they do try to access a file share by typing in the URL to it, they’ll get a menu in Windows Explorer asking if they want to enable Network Discovery. 

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Enabling network discovery requires Administrative rights and, subsequently, throws up a UAC prompt.  If your user is set up as a true Standard User, the UAC prompt will ask for an Administrator username and password. 

Obviously, this is not ideal if you have set up several machines at one time and aren’t about to give your users Administrative rights.  There is a nice solution, however.  On a domain controller, open up the Group Policy Management tool under Administrative Tools and navigate to:

Computer Policy\Policies\Administrative Templates\Network\Link-Layer Topology Discovery.  There are two settings there. 

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The first setting allows the computer to find network resources such as file shares.  The second setting allows other computers to find this one.  You should certainly enable the first.  The second is dependent on whether you are sharing anything from this computer.

James

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