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How-To Geek

Lesson 2: The Basic Concepts in Network Sharing

While browsing the network, you can find computers by using both their IP address and their computer name. For example, you can open the “Run” window in Windows by pressing “WIN + R” on your keyboard. Then, type \\ followed by the name of a computer in your network or its IP address.

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After pressing “Enter”, you will see the same thing: that computer’s shared folders and devices.

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What is the Network Location?

A network profile or network location is a collection of network and sharing settings that are applied to your active network connection.

Each time you connect to a new network in Windows 7, you are asked to select a location for it. The available choices are home, work and public.

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Depending on the location you assign, features such as file and printer sharing, network discovery, and others might be turned on or off. When creating your own home network, you should always choose “Home network”.

In Windows 8.x, you have only two profiles: private and public. When connecting to a new network, you are asked to decide whether you want to find PCs, devices, and content on your network.

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If you are connecting to your home network or a network you trust, select “Yes” and the private network profile is activated for that connection.

Network locations are very useful on laptops and tablets. If you travel a lot, you will connect to a lot of different networks. With one simple setting, Windows will automatically adjust the location assigned to each network connection and all the relevant network sharing settings.

How to Learn the Active Network Location

If you would like to learn what location is assigned to your active network connection, open the “Control Panel”, and go to “Network and Internet > Network and Sharing Center”.

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In the middle of the window, there is a section named “View your active networks” where you will see the name of the network and the location assigned to it.

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Remember, in Windows 8.x you will see only one of two values for the network location (“private network” or “public network”) while in Windows 7, you will see only one of three values (“home network”, “work network” or “public network”).

What is the Homegroup?

The Homegroup is a networking feature introduced in Windows 7 and continued in Windows 8.x.

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A Homegroup’s purpose is to easily facilitate the sharing of files and printers with other people on a home network. This feature doesn’t work on public or business networks because it is designed specifically for home users. This means that you can create or join a Homegroup only if the profile for your active network connection is set as “home” in Windows 7 or “private” in Windows 8.x.

In order for a computer to join a Homegroup, it must first be a member of the same “workgroup” as the other computers in the Homegroup. The Homegroup is protected with a password but you need to type it only when first joining it.

As you will see in lesson 4, setting up sharing with the Homegroup is much faster than traditional network sharing in Windows Vista or Windows XP.

How to Learn Whether Your Computer is Part of a Homegroup

If you would like to learn whether your PC or device is part of a Homegroup, open the “Control Panel” and go to “Network and Internet > Network and Sharing Center”.

In the middle of the window, there is a section named “View your active networks”.

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There you will find a line named HomeGroup. If it says “Joined” near it, then your computer is part of a Homegroup.

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If it says anything else, than your computer is not part of the Homegroup.

Coming up Next …

We hope that you have enjoyed today’s lesson and that you understood the networking concepts we have shared.

In Lesson 3 we will discuss the default network sharing settings that are found in Windows and how to customize them when required.

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Ciprian Adrian Rusen is an experienced technology writer and author with several titles published internationally by Microsoft Press. You can connect with him on 7 Tutorials, Twitter, and Google+ or even buy his books on Amazon.

  • Published 04/8/14

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