Windows turning off network discovery or file and printer sharing activate Public profile for the firewall

I have built a small lab with 2 Windows 2012 VMs from the same template. To simulate another environment, I’ve shared some folders out from VM1 so that both VMs can access them.

However I noticed that VM2 cannot access them with the error code: 0x80070035The network path was not found. As a test, I shared a folder from VM2, it can be accessible from both VMs.

It was because Network discovery and File and printer sharing (Control Panel\All Control Panel Items\Network and Sharing Center\Advanced sharing settings) were not turned on.

Interesting thing was after I turned them on and saved changes, they were turned off immediately. Not sure where to check, I turned off on Network discovery and File and printer sharing VM2 as a comparison, same thing happened. They could not be turned on — basically they were turned off immediately after I turned on and saved changes. Even worse, I lost my RDP session.

But losing RDP session actually gave me a hint, I checked the firewall setting and the Public Profile was on with blocking all Inbound connections. After I turned off the firewall for the Public Profile, I am able to turn on Network discovery and File and printer sharing. And shares on VM1 are accessible from VM2.

As to why VM1 had the Public Profile firewall on with RDP working, that was because there is an Inbound Rule created by one application I installed on VM1 to allow incoming traffic on port 3389 for Terminal Service where VM2 doesn’t have this application/rule. So when the Public Profile firewall was on the VM2, everthing incoming was blocked.

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