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Trouble connecting an external drive in Vista?

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Bashing Vista for whatever reason you can imagine seems to be the most hip thing to do nowadays, and while a post with my take on Vista is on its way, for now I wanted to share a tip with you for connecting external hard drives successfully to the OS.

I should note that not all external drives should be having this kind of problem, however when I upgraded from XP and wanted to get access to my Maxtor Shared Storage Plus external drive, the Maxtor utilities simply refused to communicate with the drive. As a side note, the drive I’m talking about is a networked drive a.k.a. Network-attached storage (not USB). Also Maxtor was acquired by Seagate last year, so my almost brand new 500gb drive receives limited support for the rest of its life span.

Now, the problem and its solution…

Windows Vista defaults to allow only NTLMv2 authentication on a network for increased security, and the Maxtor Shared Storage drives do not work with this type of authentication (that’s why only Public areas were accessible). The solution is to enable LM and NTLM authentications on the network to get full access back.

  1. Click on Start and on the command/search field, enter secpol.msc
  2. This will open the Local Security Policy app. Now on the left menu go to Local Policies > Security Options.
  3. On the right pane, scroll down to Network Security: LAN Manager authentication level and double click it.
  4. On the Local Security Setting tab you should see a drop down menu with options. Choose “Send LM & NTLM – use NTLMv2 session security if negotiated.” Accept all dialogs and restart.
  5. That should do the trick (on Vista Ultimate).

Because the Home editions of Vista do not include the Local Security Policy utility, on those machines you will need to edit a setting in the registry. If you follow my instructions exactly there should be nothing to be worried about:

  1. Click on Start and on the command/search field, enter regedit.
  2. This will open the Registry Editor. Now browse on the left pane to: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE > SYSTEM > CurrentControlSet > Control > Lsa.
  3. That should show a bunch of settings on the right pane, select LmCompatibilityLevel (double-click it).
  4. Change the current setting, from 3 to 1.
  5. Accept all dialogs and restart.

Written by Julio Franco

October 4th, 2007 at 6:02 pm