Share Folders On Local Network Between Ubuntu And Windows


Share files between Windows and Linux on local network

This is a complete tutorial to show you how to share folders over the local network in Ubuntu.

Do you have multiple devices in your home? Do you have to use Flash Drive or SD card to transfer data from Ubuntu to another computer? Do you find it annoying? We know you do. Because we don’t want you to waste your precious time while you can transfer your files, documents, and other large stuff quickly and easily, over the local network. It’s one-time setup and then with some clicks you will be able to share files between Ubuntu and Windows or any other Linux system. And don’t worry it’s easy and takes only a little time.

One more thing to add, while we performed this tutorial on Ubuntu, this tutorial should be valid for any other Linux OS.

Share folder on local network in Ubuntu

If you are using Ubuntu 14.04, 14.10 or 12.04, there are two ways you can share your local files over the local network to access it from Windows or other Linux computers.

  1. Share it for everyone’s access on local network, without password
  2. Password protect the folders for restricted access

We’ll see both methods in this post and will let you decide which one you would prefer to use.

1. Share folders on local network without password

Step 1:

To share a folder on the local network in Ubuntu, right click on the desired folder and select Local Network Share:

Share folder over LAN in ubuntu 14.04

Possible troubleshoot: If do not see the option of Local Network Share in right click menu, open a terminal and use the following command to install nautlius-share:

sudo apt-get install nautilus-share

You’ll need to restart Nautilus. Either log out and log in back or use the command below:

nautilus -q

Step 2:

When you click on Local Network Share, you will see the option of sharing the folder. Just check the option of Share this folder:

Share folders in Ubuntu and Windows

Possible troubleshoot: If you are prompted about Sharing service not being installed, like in the screenshot below, just click on Install service and follow the instructions.

Sharing service in Ubuntu

Step 3:

When you check the option of Share this folder, you’ll see option of Create Share available for you. You can also allow other users to edit the files in the shared folder. Option for guest access can be checked as well.

sharing the folders in Ubuntu

You’ll see that the folder icon have been changed to show that it has been shared. To stop sharing a folder, just uncheck the Share this folder option.

Now this was the easy way out. This provides access to anyone on your local network to access these files. In normal condition, you should prefer this. I mean, devices on your home network should be generally know devices. But this could not be the case always. What if you want only certain people to access it? This is where Samba server comes in picture. We’ll see that in the second part of the tutorial.

2. Share the folders on local network in Ubuntu with password protection

To do this, we need to configure Samba server. Actually, we did use Samba in the previous part of this tutorial. We just did not emphasize on it. Before we go on seeing how to set up Samba server for local network sharing in Ubuntu, let’s first have a quick look on what actually is Samba.

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What is Samba?

Samba is the software package that allows you to share files, documents and printers across a network, irrespective of whether you are using Linux, Windows and Mac. It’s available for all major platforms and can work tremendously nice in all of them. Quoting from Wikipedia:

Samba a free software re-implementation of the SMB/CIFS networking protocol, and was originally developed by Andrew Tridgell. As of version 3, Samba provides file and print services for various Windows Clients and can integrate with a Windows Server domain, either as a Primary Domain Controller (PDC) or as a domain member. It can also be part an Active Directory domain.

Install Samba server on Ubuntu

You can easily install Samba on you Ubuntu box. Before installing update your system so that you can install any available updates.

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade

Now install Samba serer and few other required stuffs with the following command:

sudo apt-get install samba samba-common system-config-samba python-glade2 gksu

Once you’ve installed Samba server, it’s time to configure Samba from the graphical interface window to share files.

Configure Samba server on Ubuntu

Open Samba Configuration tool from the dash:

Setup Samba in Linux/Ubuntu

Go to Preference->Server Settings. Although the default settings are good and may be same you need. But you may need to make change to it in some cases.

Now in Server Settings you’ve two tabs, ‘Basic’ and ‘Security’. Under Basic tab you’ve the following options that mean:

  • Workgroup – This is the name of the Workgroup of the computer you want to connect to. For example, if you want to connect to a Windows computer so you will enter the workgroup name of Windows computer, and in Windows you already have the same workgroup name as is set by default in Samba Server Settings. But if you have a different workgroup name on Windows then you will enter that workgroup name in this field. (In Windows 7 to get the workgroup name, right-click Computer icon and go to Properties, there you’ll see Windows Workgroup name.)
  • Description – This is the name of your computer as seen by others. Don’t use spaces or non-internet friendly characters.

setting up samba serverAllowing ‘Guests’ is not advisable so there is no reason to change security settings. Keep as it is.

Samba Security security settingsIt is all done! You’ve setup Samba Server. We are not far from sharing our first folder on network.

Create a system user for network file sharing

We will now create a system user for sharing file on network. This is how simple it is.

  • Go to System Settings.
  • Under Systems Settings Click User Accounts.
  • Click unlock to Enable + (plus) icon.
  • Click + (plus) icon to create a new system user.

create system user account in Ubuntu/Linux

Now as you can see the above image, you can enter ‘Full name’. As you enter ‘Full name’ Username will be taken as Full name automatically. Because we are creating this user to share files so we will assign Account Type to ‘Standard‘.

Done above steps? Click add. You have created a system user. The user is not yet activated so we will activate it by setting up password for this account. Make sure Users accounts panel is unlocked. Click Account disabled and type a new password, then confirm password and click Change.

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activate system user in Ubuntu/Linux

Yipee… Upto now we have installed and configured Samba and We have created a System user to share files on network from the account and we have activated our newly created account, too. Now We will move to Samba for the last step of configuring everything, then we will share a folder.

Add new Samba user

Open Samba and click Samba Users under Preference. Fill up the the simple dialogue. Here are couple of details about the fields:

Unix Username – In this case I am selecting the user that I just created.

Windows Username – You will enter this username when you are accessing from Windows Machine.

Samba Password – You will enter this password when you are accessing from Windows Machine.

samba user setting

Once you’ve done click OK. Now take a deep breath. You have successfully created a network with the help of Samba. Now restart the network or Samba services and ready to share files with other machines.

sudo restart smbd && sudo restart nmbd

Share folders or files over the network

To share files with Samba it’s simple with graphical user interface. Click the Plus icon in Samba and you will get dialogue like this:

share files and folders over network with sambaComplete the fields. In ‘Directory‘ browse the folder you want to share. Here are the details about the fields you will see here:

  • Share name is the name of the folder that other would see.
  • Description is simply about the content you are sharing on network.
  • Writable You shared folders are ‘read only’ by default. You can set them to writable if you want others on network to change them.
  • Visible As the name suggests when you click Visible, the shared folder will be visible to the people on network.

Now you can set permissions for the folder you are sharing. To do this click ‘Access’ tab and check the users you want to share the folder with. When you select Allow access to everyone, the folder will be accessible to everyone on the network.

setting up permissions for sharing folder on network

Finally click OK to complete the sharing. Now the folder is shared with the people you want. You have completed sharing file on network. Is there everything left? Yes! How to remove the folders from the network?

Remove shared folders

We will also need to remove some of the folders after sometime from network. It is very simple and here is how we can do that.

remove shared folder from network

This is all done! We can also share files over network using terminal but that would not be as easy as this one. If you request for command line sharing then I will write a tutorial on how to share files over network with command line in Linux.

So, how do you find this tutorial to share files on local network in Ubuntu? I hope with this tutorial you can easily share files between Ubuntu and Windows. If you have questions or suggestions, feel free to ask it in the comment box below.

This tutorial was requested by Kalc. If you would like, you can request your own tutorial. We would be happy to help you out along with other readers facing the same issue.

With inputs from Abhishek Prakash.


  1. On Ubutnu 16.04, I ran into a problem at the “Add new Samba user” step: the newly-created user (in my case, sambauser) could not be picked.

    This is because it was just created; once I switched to the sambauser user and logged on, I could switch back to my user and sambauser appeared in the “Create new Samba user” > “Unix username” dropdown.

  2. Tutorial was great — thank you. One minor rub that I ran into: After installing Samba and trying to start it, it asked for my password and then nothing happened. Researched it on Stack Exchange, and the problem was a non-existent configuration file. I had to invoke:

    ~$ sudo touch /etc/libuser.conf

    … in order to create the initial file.

    I am interested in learning how to do this via the command line, so if you have posted that tutorial, please let me know. Meantime, I’ll look elsewhere for that solution. Thank you again! -Scott

    • I encountered the same thing as above. The touch command allowed me to start configuring the samba server. Thanks fellas!

  3. Thank you so much! I’ve spent several hours following other failed tutorials for password protected shares before finding this. This worked perfectly for Ubuntu 16.04! Thank you!!

  4. Hi. Thanks for the tut! Though am still having issues with my network and sharing files.
    How ever, I thought it might be useful to add some other help that seems to be an issue with most newbies with linux. And that is, when it comes to installing “system-config-samba” For some it will open and work fine after installation. However – it seems that a very long term bug keeps rearing its ugly head for many and never seem to get sorted in any new updated versions of linux. Many have and still do, complain that the System-config-samba will not open properly (Just not work) you get as far as typing your password to use and then nothing happens. I was stuck with this for ages. After some messing in terminal I came across this message.

    sudo system-config-samba
    Traceback (most recent call last):
    File “/usr/sbin/system-config-samba”, line 41, in
    File “/usr/share/system-config-samba/”, line 118, in __init__
    self.basic_preferences_win = basicPreferencesWin.BasicPreferencesWin(self, self.xml, self.samba_data, self.samba_backend, self.main_window)
    File “/usr/share/system-config-samba/”, line 93, in __init__
    self.admin = libuser.admin()
    SystemError: could not open configuration file `/etc/libuser.conf’: No such file or directory
    [email protected]:~$

    I then googled the bottom line where it says system error and found this useful piece of command that actually fixes the problem

    sudo su
    touch /etc/libuser.conf
    chmod 777 /etc/libuser.conf

    It now opens… it works hoo-bloomin-ray!!! I hope this helps anyone else that comes across this problem :)

    • Great tutorial. It’s working on folders on the same drive the Ubuntu is installed, but not working when I share another hard drive for example that is mounted in media. Can you show us how to do that? I have seen is quite demanding this part and a lot of people are searching for this kind of solution. Thank you

  5. i have two computer requiring sharing. One is win 10, the other is Ubuntu.

    Followed the tut, i can access file of ubuntu from windows. However, i can’t write to share folder from windows. It prompts me with asking some right to write.

    I can not find any way to fill the username and password on windows to gain the access right.

    Am i missing something?

    BTW, thanks very much for your tut

  6. hi, thank you for tutorial, pretty clean and easy to understand, i have a installed and configured as said in 2nd option, do i need to install samba in other systems on the network too? thank you again

  7. Hi, I’m new in Linux. I have Ubuntu server 14.04 with no GUI. It’s running on Windows 10 through VirtualBox. I can share folders from Host to Guest thanks to VirtualBox but the thing is I don’t know how to share (Guest to Host) a public folder. Could you give a hand with this please? I’ve read about installing additional tools like Samba, however I’m wondering if can I do so without any additional thing.
    Thank in advance people!

  8. In my case, the first step needed a second sudo, unsure why, but this did it:
    sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade

    without it, i got the “are you root?” message .

    Thanx for a helpful post!

  9. Well, I’m going to give this a try. I have tried and tried before, and never successful. You always have great stuff, maybe this will do the trick. ;)


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