I'd suggest (if at all possible) you set up some sort of file server to act as a central store for your data rather than mapping drives all over the place. In a workgroup setting that tends to be a prescription for instability and aggravation.
Although Samba comes most readily to mind, it is a non-Windows hosted server. And although it's not hard to set up or work with, it does
require an investment in time plus
a move outside the familiar Microsoft "comfort zone."
So scratch doing a bare
Samba installation for the moment and consider some easier alternatives...
Here's two possible approaches to consider:
1) Set up an OwnCloud
2) Set up an Amahi
For OwnCloud, the easiest way to get your feet wet is to avail yourself of something called AMPPS with Softaculous. AMMPS
is an easy to install "stack" that allows you to run over 300 FOSS server-type apps on Windows with minimal fuss or bother. Softaculous
is the companion installer that makes loading up all those apps a simple one-click affair. Perfect for testing something you may have always wanted to try, or for use in your own home network. Find out more and get the downloads here
What is AMPPS?
AMPPS is a software stack from Softaculous enabling Apache, Mysql, MongoDB, PHP, Perl, Python and Softaculous auto-installer on a desktop. This includes everything you need for website development. Start developing your website from open source web applications or just start writing code yourself.
Easy to get. Free to use:
You can perform Complex functions like backing up Database or Backing up your entire Website for that matter with just a click of a button. You can also Upgrade your Installations with a Click. Save the hassle while Importing your Scripts or Backing up your Website. Softaculous makes it as easy as it can get. The same workflow enables tasks to be completed rapidly and without navigating through multiple steps or pages.
AMPPS with Softaculous
Softaculous is ready for your desktops and office servers with AMPPS to boost your development. Like servers, now auto-install on your desktop too. AMPPS with Softaculous enables you to install 320 scripts on just the click of a button, no need of manual installation.
320 Apps and increasing
Softaculous AMPPS helps you deploy Apps on your office servers and your desktops. We have covered a wide array of Categories so that everyone could find the required application one would need to power their business. AMPPS enables you to focus more on using applications rather than maintaining them. AMPPS is perfect for Web Developers and for use in an Office Environment.
The mostly free Amahi server (which closely resembles the now deprecated Microsoft Windows Home Server
in function and feature set) is a little simpler to roll out:
Is Amahi Right for You?
Amahi is software that runs on a dedicated PC as a central computer for your home. It handles your entertainment, storage, and computing needs. You can store, organize and deliver your recorded TV shows, videos and music to media devices in your network. Share them locally or safely around the world. And it's expandable with a multitude of one-click install apps.
The Amahi Home Server makes your home networking simple. We like to call the Amahi servers HDAs, for "Home Digital Assistants." Each HDA delivers all the functionality you would want in a home server, while being as easy to use as a web browser.
The core functionality available in the base Amahi HDA install includes:
- Protect Your Computers Back-up all your networked PCs simply and easily on your home network. If one of your PCs "dies" you can easily restore it!
- Organize Your Files Access, share and search your files from any machine on your network, making it easy to share and find your photos, music and videos.
- Internet Wide Access Automatically setup your own VPN so you can access your network from anywhere: safely and securely.
- Private Internet Applications Shared applications like calendaring, private wiki and more to come, will help you manage your home and your family!
For a more detailed look at the functionality take a look at our feature gallery or take the tour
Advantages of Amahi
An Amahi-based home network lets you do more with all the networked devices (computers, laptops, game consoles, media players, etc.) around your home.
- Have you ever wanted to store your photos so everyone in the house can easily access them?
- Are you scared what will happen if any of your computers "dies" for some reason?
- Would you like to keep a calendar that tracks everyone in the house?
This is only the start of what an Amahi HDA will do for you!
What Amahi can do for you
- Share your photos (or any files) with any device in your network
- Centrally store all your music and videos
- Quickly back-up your computers
- Run applications to co-ordinate your household (eg. shared calendars)
- Securely access all your 'stuff' when you are out, whether at work, a friend's place, or out of town!
Amahi is mostly free, with a few components requiring a small convenience fee ($1-$5) to install. This small revenue stream goes to support Amahi and is shared with the developers of the software.
Amahi homepage here
had a decent intro article on Amahi here
Of the two suggestions above I think you'd probably be happiest with Amahi. It does more "home networky" things - and it's extremely easy to use.
But since it doesn't cost anything other than a download and some time to try them out, why not give both a shot and see for yourself?