I've received good help from this forum so I want to share a technique that I just discovered for ultra fast access to shared folders that reside on other computers on the network.
1. After setting up my network (a WinXP desktop and a Vista laptop via a router), I found that accessing the shared folder on the laptop from the desktop was quite slow. Using "My Network Places", when I clicked on the laptop, I would have to wait about 19 seconds for the shared folder to appear. This was too slow!
2. If I accessed the shared folder on the desktop from the laptop using Vista's "Network", access was fast though navigation required several clicks. But this was acceptable.
A fix for item-1 that I found is to use "Map Network Drive". Using this, all I have to do is open My Computer and click on the icon for the shared folder on the laptop. This opens the shared folder INSTANTLY! This technique can also replace item-2 above.
"Map Network Drive" is setup on computer-A to map the drive/folder on computer-B.
For example, I run "Map Network Drive" on my WinXP desktop.
..... Open My Computer > Tools > Map Network Drive
..... In the DRIVE: selection text box, it shows the next available drive letter starting backward from Z:. This will be a pseudo drive letter so I just left Z: as the drive letter.
..... I then click the BROWSE button and see the laptop listed. I navigate to the shared folder on the laptop and select it.
..... There's a check box for "Reconnect at logon". Leave this box checked to have this setting be persistent. If the box is unchecked, this setting will only last for your current session.
Here's a link to the Microsoft explanation:
Scroll down to "Map a drive to a shared folder" and follow those steps. After you finish mapping the drive/folder on the other computer, open "My Computer" and in WinXP you will see the shared drive under "Network Drives". Click that icon and you will instantly be inside the shared folder. In Vista, open "Computer" and the shared folder on the other computer will be listed along with your local drives/partitions.
Hope this works as well for you as it's working for me,