How is a network at home different from one at work?

Computers on a home network are usually part of a workgroup, and computers on a workplace network are usually part of a domain. The main difference between workgroups and domains is how network resources are managed.

In a workgroup

  • All computers are peers; no computer has control over another computer.

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

  • If you have a user account on any computer, you can change settings for that account.

  • There are typically no more than ten to twenty computers.

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

In a domain

  • One or more computers are servers. Network administrators use servers to control the security and permissions for all the computers on the domain. This makes it easy to make changes because the changes are automatically made to the other computers.

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

  • If you use a computer on the domain, you probably can make only limited changes to settings. (That's because network administrators want to ensure consistency among computers and maintain configuration control as much as possible.)

  • There can be thousands of computers.

  • The computers can be on different local networks.

To check if your computer is on a workgroup or domain

  1. Open System by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking System and Maintenance, and then clicking System.

  2. Under Computer name, domain, and workgroup settings, you will see either "Workgroup" or "Domain," followed by the name.