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Domain vs workgroup: using office machines with the home network

I finally figured out a problem which has vexed Lou and I for ages – how to print to our home network printer from our work laptops.

The problem is that our office networks are domain-based – with active directory, central servers and all that stuff. Our home network is a simple peer-to-peer network, with one spare machine used as a combination file- and print server. It works well, and means that when Lou decided she wants to print a 30 page doc whilst I’m in the middle of a tricky section in HL2 or preparing to fire a PPC barrage at an unsuspecting MW4 player, my framerate doesn’t drop through the floor.

I’ve *never* been able to persuade my laptop to print to our home printer – I can ping the machines, but I can’t connect to them. There was a time when Lou could, but then something changed in her office server environment and that stopped working.

Here’s what worked for me:

  1. Create a user account on the machine you need to access that mirrors the user account you have on your office network
  2. Make sure that user account has the access permissions it needs to do what you need it to – print, read docs, whatever.
  3. On the laptop, open a command prompt and type

    net use \\computername /user:yourusername

    With luck, you’ll see a success confirmation message. Then, you should be able to access resources on the machine “computername” by navigating to \\computername in explorer (just type it into the address bar, or create a shortcut). You can then connect to any shared objects on that machine.

When you’re finished for the day, before you go back to work agan open a command prompt and type:

net use \\computername /DELETE

to disconnect from it. I’ve made a few batch files to create and remove connections to the machines we need access to.

I’ve haven’t tried this in association with an active VPN connection yet – my guess is that we’ll need to diconnect if we need to access local resources, but hey – it’s better than nothing.