Here are solutions to some common problems with finding computers on a home network.
This can occur for two reasons:
Your computer is not connected to the network. If your computer is not connected to the network, the Network folder appears empty, even if there are other computers and devices on the network. To solve the problem, connect to that network or set up a new network.
Open Connect to a Network by clicking the Start button , and then clicking Connect to.
Network discovery is blocking you from seeing other computers and devices. If the network discovery setting on your computer is set to Off, you won't see other computers and devices on the network. To change your network discovery setting, follow these steps:
Open Network and Sharing Center by clicking the Start button , clicking Control Panel, clicking Network and Internet, and then clicking Network and Sharing Center.
The computer or device isn't on the network. To solve this problem, add the computer to the network by plugging it into the hub, switch, or router (if the network is Ethernet), or by connecting to the network using the Connect to a Network wizard (if the network is wireless). If you think the computer has been added to the network but there is a problem, you can run Network Diagnostics on the computer to try to find the problem. To run Network Diagnostics, in the notification area, right-click the network icon, and then click Diagnose and repair.
It might take several minutes for computers running previous versions of Windows to be discovered and become visible in the Network folder. If your network contains more than one workgroup, it might take up to 15 minutes for computers running previous versions of Windows to appear in the Network folder.
We recommend that all computers be in the same workgroup. If you must use multiple workgroups, make sure that each workgroup contains a computer that has file sharing enabled and network discovery turned on.
On the computer running Windows XP, check the workgroup name and then compare it to the workgroup name on the computers running Windows Vista. If the workgroup names don't match, change the names so that all of the computers on the network have the same workgroup name.
Click Start, click Control Panel, click Performance and Maintenance, and then click System.
Click the Computer Name tab.
The workgroup name is displayed. To change the workgroup name, click Change.
Open System by clicking the Start button , clicking Control Panel, clicking System and Maintenance, and then clicking System.
The workgroup name is displayed under Computer Name, Domain, and Workgroup Settings. To change the workgroup name, click Change Settings.
If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.
In the System Properties dialog box, click the Computer Name tab, and then click Change.
In the Computer Name/Domain Changes dialog box, type the new workgroup name in the Workgroup box, and then click OK.
For more information, go to File and Printer Sharing in Windows Vista on the Microsoft website.