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March 6, 2011

Windows 7 Home Networking FAQ's

Every few weeks someone asks for a Windows 7 home network guide, or links to one. I have never written one because Microsoft has already done a fine job at writing guides on this topic. The purpose of this post is just to show folks where those guides are, and to show more advanced users some more info.

How to find info on this topic:
#1 – Use the start menu Help and Support option. Really, there is a lot of good info there.
#2 – Use Google advanced search. I tend to use operators.
Use quotes for an exact word or phrase: networking “homegroup”
Search a specific site: networking “homegroup” site:microsoft.com
Filter out the garbage with the minus sign (in this case we are filtering out Microsoft’s forums): networking “homegroup” -social site:microsoft.com

The Homegroup
Windows 7 introduced a new home networking feature called Homegroup. For those with an all Windows 7 home network (or even a majority of machines) it is a great option to those who aren’t network savvy.
All the info you need is here: HomeGroup from start to finish.
If you want to also share with non-Windows 7 machines download the Windows 7 and HomeGroup Downlevel Sharing document and Networking home computers running different versions of Windows.

Public Folders
Several people have asked why are their 2 versions of the folders in their Libraries. The answer is Public Folders. Public Folders are on by default in the Home Group but can also be enabled via the Network And Sharing Center.
See: Share files using the Public folders

What is Advanced Sharing
Advanced Sharing is a Microsoft term. The term, as it applies to Windows 7, is how home network sharing was done pre-Windows 7 and is still done in non-home environments (more-or-less).
In a nutshell it is password protect sharing. You’ll create a user and give it a password. Then in each file or folder you can set specific permissions for that user (or all users).
It is also the method you must use to share with non-Windows 7 machines.
It is harder to setup and requires at least some basic knowledge of networking and user / file permissions.
It’s advantage is that folder / file access is far more controllable.
The particulars can be found here: Windows 7 and HomeGroup Downlevel Sharing document andNetworking home computers running different versions of Windows.

What is the difference between Home Group and Workgroup?
What is the difference between a domain, a workgroup, and a homegroup?

Homegroup, HomeGroup, or Home Group?
Yes, it is spelled all 3 ways in Microsoft’s own documentation. If Microsoft can’t figure it out then how can I?

What is the difference between Home network, Work network, and Public network?
Well, pretty much just the HomeGroup and Firewall settings. See: Configure Sharing and Discovery in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 and Choosing a network location.


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