OK, I’ve seen this on countless forums, blogs, and other home theater/network sites and I wanted to get this out to all of you who have not yet experienced the inconvenience of disabled null sessions on Windows 2003 Server when trying to connect to a share with your HTPC.
For those that don’t know what I mean by “null session”, I mean connecting to a share when your system has a blank password. 2003 Server does not like this and screams, “Halt! Who goes there?” You must then enter a username/password that it recognizes. By design, this is desirable. 2003 Server was not created to give the home theater crowd warm fuzzies. It was created with security in mind. So how do we connect to our shares with a blank password? I’m going to tell you.
The most common information available is to start hacking away at the Group Policy Management entries under Network Access, some things about SMB signing, selling your unborn son, and sacrificing a chicken at the next equinox. I don’t know what an equinox is and chickens scare me, so I decided to come up with an answer that works. Windows system administration is what I do, so you can risk taking my advice or not. Either way, I’m enjoying password-free file sharing on Win2K3 Server.
We are going to need to change a (yes, one) Group Policy setting, so go to Start -> Run -> and type gpedit.msc and hit Enter. Expand Local Computer Policy -> Computer Configuration -> Windows Settings -> Security Settings -> Local Policies -> Security Options -> Accounts:Limit local account use of blank passwords to console logon only. Set this from the default Enabled to Disabled. Exit and reboot the system. That’s really all there is to it. You do have to have an account created on the server for any users attempting to access shares, however. So, make sure you do that. Also, make sure your shares are set up correctly. If this does not work for you, then something else is wrong in your setup (whether it be a user account or share permission/security issue).
Hope this helps. Please leave any comments or suggestions you may have!