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Error: “Network Error: Windows cannot access \\share. Check the spelling of the name. Otherwise, there might be a problem with your network. To try to identify and resolve network problems, click Diagnose. Error Code: 0x80004005. Unspecified error”

Windows Network Error

The above is a very common and ambiguous network share error.  There are a number of network problems that could cause this error ranging from hardware such as a router or switch, a bad cable or even a software related configuration error. The solution I am going to provide is a software fix that helps Windows 7 computers, within a LAN, communicate more effectively when sharing files through Windows Network File & Folder Sharing and accessing Mapped Network Drives.

If you are having trouble with Windows 7 not being able to access File Shares within a Workgroup, using the Computer Name then the first thing you should try is accessing the shares by using the computer’s IP address. Go to the Computer with a shared folder that you are trying to access and open up a Command Prompt (Start button, type “cmd”, hit enter) and type ipconfig /all.  Look for the IP address that will usually start with 192.168 then go back to the computer you were trying to access the share from and in a File Explorer window, type \\<IP Address> (i.e. \\ into the Address Bar and hit Enter. If the shares work by IP but not by Computer Name, then you know you have a NetBIOS issue and this solution should definitely fix your problem. Even if that is not the case, this is an easy thing to try in your attempts at solving Windows 7 Network Share issues.

An Easy Fix To Resolve Common Errors with Windows 7 Network Shares

First, I would like to elaborate on a specific scenario where I encountered the Windows 7 Network Error stated above and then I will talk about the solution.  The basic configuration was:

The specific computer that was encountering the error most frequently was a Windows 7 laptop that had WiFi & a Wired Network Connection, both of which were ENABLED and connected to the router/internet during the time of the error.  After some troubleshooting, I noticed that when I disabled the Wireless adapter, the Network Share Errors would go away.  This led me to investigate what, if any, difference in settings there were between the Wireless adapter and the Wired connection.  First off, the Local Area Connection (wired) was setup with a manual static IP address, while the Wireless Network Connection was set to Obtain an IP address automatically through DHCP.  This should make no difference really, although it could if there was a problem with the wireless function of the router or the laptop’s wireless adapter, but I knew that was not the case.

It took some digging but the other difference between the two network adapters was an Advanced setting within the Windows 7 network adapters configuration screen (Control Panel\Network and Internet\Network Connections). This setting relates to NetBIOS over TCP/IP. NetBIOS is the service that allows Windows systems to access file shares via the computer name, instead of using the IP address. Coincidentally, a trick I have used in the past, to get Windows 7 computer shares to work more reliably, is to Map the Network Drives using each system’s IP address, as opposed to their NetBIOS or Computer name. For some reason, Windows XP seems to access all shares more reliably–both Windows 7 file shares & other Windows XP file shares…perhaps it has something to do with the way Windows XP handles NetBIOS.

The Solution – For Windows 7 Network Share Problems

  1. Go to the Network and Sharing Center and click “Change adapter settings”.
    To get to Network and Sharing Center: Open up any File Explorer window and enter this in the address bar at the top: Control Panel\Network and Internet\Network Connections OR Click the Network Icon in the Notification Area at the bottom right of your screen and when the menu pops up, click Open Network and Sharing Center. Then on the left hand side, click “Change adapter settings”.
  2. Right click on a Network adapter that is suspect of causing the Network Error (It should be one that starts with Local Area Connection or Wireless Network Connection). Then, click Properties in the menu that expands.
  3. Double click the item in the list entitled Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4) OR select the item in the list and click the Properties button.
  4. Now you are in the TCP/IP settings for the network adapter. Click the “Advanced…” button in the bottom right.
  5. Click the WINS tab at the top, then look at the bottom for the NetBIOS setting. Click to select the option entitled “Enable NetBIOS over TCP/IP”.  Click OK…OK…Close and you will be back to the network adapters screen and DONE!
  6. If you have multiple adapters, repeat the above steps on each adapter.

2Wire 3801HGV Network Share Solution NOTES

In my particular situation, I suspect that for whatever reason, the DHCP Server on my 2Wire 3801HVG AT&T Uverse modem/router was not handling the NetBIOS setting correctly.  If you noticed under the NetBIOS setting that we just changed, the Default setting is: “Use NetBIOS setting from the DHCP server. If static IP address is used or the DHCP server does not provide NetBIOS setting, enable NetBIOS over TCP/IP.”  So, in my example situation, the Local Area Connection was set to use a static IP address, thus NetBIOS was already enabled which would be the functional equivalent of performing the above solution on a network adapter that uses DHCP (most of all home network adapters are set to use DHCP).

This solution is not the end all, be all of Windows 7 Network Share Error Solutions but it is a great thing to try in your troubleshooting steps and something that I had to find, over the years of troubleshooting network issues.  It is always so difficult to search Google on Network Errors and find a relevant solution as it is a topic that is widely discussed. You will likely find pages such as this Microsoft Answers post where you will find many posts from users all having the same unsolved problem, speckled with canned responses from Microsoft Support employees that provide the same basic troubleshooting steps over and over. The one thing you will not find on those pages is a viable solution, which is my motivation for these blog posts. Alas, there are many different problems that can cause this error but this is a great start in troubleshooting the problem, especially since NetBIOS relates so directly to the way that Windows creates and accesses Network File Shares.