Nov 172015

Decided to whip up a post about an issue that I have been running in to more and more as of late.

Typically, situation goes as follows: Customer has an environment where there are industrial machines running Windows CE Embedded computers as controllers. These systems typically are configured to either host files, or grab files off a network. These systems are typically dated, and IT staff is unable to get the Windows CE based machines to connect to network shares on Windows Servers running SMB version 2 or later (ie. Windows Server 2008 and later).


This issue is due to authentication issues with protocols and incompatibles. Over the years, Windows File Sharing has come a long way (SMB to be precise). Numerous security enhancements have been made, authentication mechanisms, etc…

In all cases, I’ve noticed companies usually either give up, or hire someone who is able to resolve it, but the resolution is never documented.


The solution I have come to could be considered somewhat controversial (due to the fact that Windows XP has reached it’s EOF), but I’ve found a way.

To provide file sharing solutions, in my experiences I have been able to accomplish this by implementing a Windows XP based “proxy” machine (calling it a proxy by name, not by actual usage). Configuring a Windows XP machine, enabling the “guest” account on it, and configuring file shares, will allow users on the network to dump files on these “proxy” network shares, in turn which will be browsable and accessible to the Windows CE machine. This Windows XP machine can be joined to the domain, to allow seamless authentication with other network users/computers, and also contains it’s own local user database.

The guest account needs to be enabled as the Windows CE machines typically browse and do initial file sharing handshakes as “guest”. You’ll also need a local user account configured on the Windows XP machine, which is the account that the actual Windows CE machine will use to connect/authenticate against the share and it’s access.

Please note, you may also have to go in to the “Local Security” policy, and allow guest access to file shares and browsing on the Windows XP machine.


As always, since Windows XP has reached it’s end of life, no more security updates are available. You want to make sure you have other security measures in place to mitigate any security concerns that could arise from having an active XP OS running on the network. If anyone else has a better solution or can comment further on this, please do! I’ve had to deal with this issue multiple times for CNC machines with older CE based controllers, as well as handheld Windows CE devices that require network share access.

  5 Responses to “Industrial Windows CE embedded systems connecting to network shares”

  1. Stephen- How do I find out what version of SMB is running on Windows CE 6.0 machine?


  2. Stephen,

    >I know it has been a while since you wrote this article but I am actually having that issue and it is of the out most importance that we are able to use smb of the highest level with our windows CE 6.0.

    Any suggestion of how we can do it?.

    Best regards and thank you in advance

  3. Hello Juan,

    Did the resolution proposed in the blog post not work for you?


  4. Hello everyone,

    I searched in the Internet how to access a shared folder from Windows CE 5.0 and other version for weeks. I didn’t find anything that was able to help me to solve my problem.

    We have many Windows CE 5.0 devices in our company and to replacement them will cost a lot of money. Units that we have right now it a system that control tank of oil. I contacted the company GE and spoke with their engineers. They said that it will take months to upgrade the firmware and even that not sure that will work. They also said to change the unit with newer version that can accept USB so we will be able to upload the file manually. That is crazy just for 1 problem.

    In the past, when we had to update the system, we must plug it directly using a serial DB25 cable to DB9. That cable is broken, and newer Laptop doesn’t have that kind of port.

    Like I said, I searched for many weeks on how to be able to access shared folder from Windows CE and no one can really give me the right answer as example: try DNS, try \\ip\shared , try \\name\shared, change Windows Firewall, change security, change this and that on the Windows Server and still nothing… some people said it’s a problem of your DNS and Windows Security / firewall.

    I was frustrated but I didn’t give up… I took some old book of Windows 95, XP and even millennium and I found the solution. Older Windows does not work 100% with DNS They mostly use NETBIOS and what work with NETBIOS is WINS server. You could ping the server name but when you try to access the shared folder \\server\shared there will be an error.

    The solution was easy: 1- access registry if possible and add LMHOST (Shared server name and IP or 2- Install WINS server. For me since I cannot access the unit registry, I installed WINS Server on my DNS server. Once that is done, everything works.

    BUT please ready this condition:

    1- You cannot have more than 15 characters for folder, shared server, username, password and domain

    2- Enter UserName, Password and Domain (computer name instead) on Owner. This is the security that will allow you to access the server. Make sure this account easiest on the shared server. To enter account there should be an icon in control panel (owner) and click on network ID to enter the information.

    3- Enter the WINS Server IP. Make sure like DNS make sure the server is enter in the WINS Server. My suggestion is enter it manually.

    4- Optional: you can also map the drive by using this command: net use Net1 \\shared server name\shared folder

    * Important: You cannot use \\IP address\Shared folder. You must use \\server name\shared folder (reminder max 15 characters but to be safe 14 max sometime 15 not work well)

    Once that is done, I was able to access any Windows 10 workstation, Windows server 2003, Windows server 2008, Windows server 2012 and Windows server 2016.

    That was simple and not complicate… Just going back in the past to get our answer.

    I hope with this solution that you could solve your problem.

  5. Joe,

    For your solution, which machine do you need to access the registry, the server or the Windows CE device? I have the same issue I am working on for Windows CE 6.0. Thanks!

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