Join a domain, workgroup, or homegroup

If your PC is on a large network at a workplace or school, it probably belongs to a domain. If your PC is on a home network, it belongs to a workgroup and might also belong to a homegroup. Read on for more info about each of these types of groups and how to join them.

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Find out if your PC belongs to a workgroup or domain

  1. Open System by swiping in from the right edge of the screen, tapping Search (or if you're using a mouse, pointing to the upper-right corner of the screen, moving the mouse pointer down, and then clicking Search), entering System in the search box, and tapping or clicking System.

  2. Under Computer name, domain, and workgroup settings, you'll see either the word Workgroup or Domain, followed by the name.

Find out if your PC belongs to a homegroup

  1. Open Network and Sharing Center by swiping in from the right edge of the screen, tapping Search (or if you're using a mouse, pointing to the upper-right corner of the screen, moving the mouse pointer down, and then clicking Search), entering network and sharing in the search box, and then tapping or clicking Network and Sharing Center.

  2. If you see the word Joined next to HomeGroup, your computer belongs to a homegroup.

    HomeGroup status in Network and Sharing Center
    HomeGroup status in Network and Sharing Center

Note

  • If there's a homegroup available on your network, you can join it by tapping or clicking Available to join.

What is a domain?

A domain is a group of network PCs that share a common database and security policy. Here's more info about domains:

  • Each domain has a unique name.

  • There can be thousands of PCs in a domain.

  • The PCs can be on different local networks.

  • An IT admin manages the domain as a unit with common rules and procedures.

  • One or more PCs on a domain are servers. Servers control security and permissions for all PCs on the domain. This makes it easier for an IT admin to make changes because the changes are automatically made to all PCs.

  • Domain users must provide a password or other sign-in info each time they access the domain.

  • If you have a user account on a domain, you can log on to any PC on the domain without needing an account on that PC.

  • You probably can make only limited changes to a PC's settings because IT admins often want to keep network PCs consistent.

  • PCs running Windows 8.1 or Windows RT 8.1 can't join a domain.

What is a workgroup?

A workgroup is a group of PCs that are connected to a home or small office network and share resources, such as printers and files. When you set up a network, Windows automatically creates a workgroup and gives it a name.

  • All PCs are peers; no PC has control over another PC.

  • Each PC has a set of user accounts. To log on to any PC in the workgroup, you must have an account on that PC.

  • There are typically no more than twenty PCs in a workgroup.

  • A workgroup isn't protected by a password.

  • All PCs must be on the same local network or subnet.

What is a homegroup?

A homegroup is a group of PCs on a home network that can share pictures, music, videos, documents, and printers. Belonging to a homegroup makes sharing easier.

  • PCs on a home network must belong to a workgroup, but they can also belong to a homegroup.

  • A homegroup is protected with a password, but you only need to enter the password once, when adding your PC to the homegroup.

For more info about homegroups, see HomeGroup from start to finish.

Join a domain

  1. Open System by swiping in from the right edge of the screen, tapping Search (or if you're using a mouse, pointing to the upper-right corner of the screen, moving the mouse pointer down, and then clicking Search), entering System in the search box, and tapping or clicking System.

  2. Under Computer name, domain, and workgroup settings, click Change settings. Administrator permission required You might be asked for an admin password or to confirm your choice.

  3. Click Network ID and follow the steps on your screen.

Join or create a workgroup

When you set up a network, Windows automatically creates a workgroup and gives it the name WORKGROUP. You can join an existing workgroup on a network or create a new one. Workgroups provide a basis for file and printer sharing, but they don't actually set up sharing for you.

  1. Open System by swiping in from the right edge of the screen, tapping Search (or if you're using a mouse, pointing to the upper-right corner of the screen, moving the mouse pointer down, and then clicking Search), entering System in the search box, and tapping or clicking System.

  2. Under Computer name, domain, and workgroup settings, tap or click Change settings. Administrator permission required You might be asked for an admin password or to confirm your choice.

  3. In the System Properties dialog box, tap or click the Computer Name tab, and then tap or click Change.

  4. In the Computer Name/Domain Changes dialog box, under Member of, tap or click Workgroup, and then do one of the following:

    • To join an existing workgroup, enter the name of the workgroup that you want to join, and then tap or click OK.

    • To create a new workgroup, enter the name of the workgroup that you want to create, and then tap or click OK.

    If your PC was a member of a domain before you joined the workgroup, it will be removed from the domain and your computer account on that domain will be disabled.

    Note

    • If your network includes PCs running Windows XP, you might need to change the workgroup name on those PCs to match the workgroup name on the PCs running later versions of Windows so that you can see and connect to all PCs on your network.

Join or create a homegroup

To make sharing easier on a home network in Windows 8.1, Windows RT 8.1, or Windows 7, we recommend also creating or joining a homegroup. For more info, see HomeGroup from start to finish.

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