Photo credit: zoovroo (Flickr)

Macs are getting ever more popular. This year Apple have taken a big chunk of the PC market but given the rise of multiple devices in homes catering for either multiple users or to provide media centres with content, people are hanging on to their PCs to act as file servers or repositories. The newer OS X releases are thankfully able to read and write to Windows Operating Systems via the SMB protocol but it can often be a painful experience getting things to work reliably. I don’t intend to discuss or go into the realms of getting your Windows devices to be able to access Mac OS X’s file system; the purpose of this post is to address what I found to be a frequently asked question on Apple support forums and associated help sites, but often found no meaningful or helpful answer was every really forthcoming: “How to fix error 36 on Mac OS X when accessing Windows 7 shares“.

Of course the question has taken other forms but the common element was users were attempting to connect to resources stored on their Windows 7 computer from their Mac OS X device and whilst they might be able to do so, the link would only ever be for a finite period of time before their connection was either disconnected or terminated with an error (typically error 36). Any attempt to reconnect to the Windows share would fail until such time as the Windows device (and perhaps the Mac too) were rebooted. Any other Mac OS device would also be unable to access the Windows device too.

Interestingly this problem doesn’t occur for Windows XP or Windows Server 2003 / 2008 shares. It appears to be isolated to the Windows 7 operating system. The good news is that we can easily modify the Windows 7 OS so that it can act more like a server and eliminate the problems detailed above. To do this we need to alter the registry of your Windows computer.

Disclaimer time: Don’t be afraid, but do be very careful because if you alter the wrong thing it could cause damage to your operating system. (Perhaps make sure your backups are up to date?)

If you are an advanced user then here are the changes you need to make, if you’re not sure what to do then follow our simple step-by-step guide below the advanced user section. This should work for Snow Leopard (10.6), Lion (10.7) and Mountain Lion (10.8):

Advanced user guide

Set the following registry key to ’1′:

HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Memory Management\LargeSystemCache

and set the following registry key to ’3′:


Step by step guide

On your Windows 7 device:

  • Click Start
  • In the text box that appears below your programs type regedt32
  • Select the application from the generated program list above the input field
  • Expand SYSTEM
  • Expand CurrentControlSet
  • Expand Control
  • Expand Session Manager
  • Expand Memory Management
  • Double click (in the right hand pane) LargeSystemCache
  • Change the value in the input box to 1
  • Confirm your selection
  • Collapse down the areas you expanded
  • Expand SYSTEM
  • Expand CurrentControlSet
  • Expand Services
  • Expand LanmanServer
  • Expand Parameters
  • Double click (in the right hand pane) Size
  • Change the value in the input box to 3
  • Confirm your selection
  • Close the window you opened

You’re done, the changes should persist through reboot.

Sources: [Apple Support Forum / / @mkayes]

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