I've been running a home network with 4 machines for a while (3 PC's and 1 Xbox). I like to store divx/xvid/mpeg files on my main PC (saving the xbox HD space for other stuff). I also want the freedom of watching the movies on any of the 3 PC's or the xbox so I opted for just doing Windows shared directories. I set up XBMP with SBM links, but as the directories with the files in question are "shared", I didn't need to use a username/password, I just pointed to the machine/share name. This works great for me, I can play the files on any of the four machines (I've even played the same file at the same time on 3 machines -- haven't tried all 4 yet, but I'm betting it could probably still do it).
My question is this (I'm a networking noob), in XP Pro, if I simply "share" a directory, can someone on the OTHER side of my routier/switch see/access my files? They aren't password/username protected within my network... If so, what do you think in your opinion is a more secure way to go (I'm staying away from custom xbox streaming software because I don't want to lose the ability to watch shows on the other machines). Is there a way to share files in XP and still require a username/password? Can you share only to specific machines/IP's?
One last (slightly unrelated question). When I set up my network, I used the MS network wizard thing and the option that worked the best for me was the one that mentioned residential gateway. I know nothing about residential gateways, but when I recently redid my machines, I tried for the "this computer connects directly to the internet" option and it warned I wouldn't be able to share files between computers... any info you could point me to on the benefits/drawbacks of the residential gateway? I did some searching, but everything I found wasn't geared toward a setup similar to mine. It seemed as if a "residential gateway" was a dedicated machine between the router and the rest of my machines... well, in my setup, I've got 4 machines hooked to the router. Which machine is my residential gateway??? Odd. It works, so it's not an emergency, I just don't fully understand it and MS's help files were pretty much useless to me.
Any help is much appreciated. BTW, I'm not a noob to xbox or PC, just the subtleties of networking. I got it working, I'm looking for help to get it working better. Thanks.