Why can't I connect to other computers?

There are a number of possible reasons why you can't connect to other computers on your home network, or you can't share files and printers with them. Look for a specific problem and possible solutions in the following sections.

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You haven't created or joined a homegroup

A homegroup links computers on your home network so that you can share pictures, music, videos, and printers. The homegroup is protected with a password, and you'll always be able to choose what you share with the group. Creating or joining a homegroup is the easiest way to share files and printers on a network.

Note

  • Homegroups are not available in Windows Server 2008 R2.

To create or join a homegroup

  1. Open HomeGroup by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking Control Panel, typing homegroup in the search box, and then clicking HomeGroup.

  2. Click Create now or Join now, and then follow the instructions.

You're not using a homegroup, and the folder or printer you're trying to access has not been shared

We recommend that you use a homegroup to share files and printers on your network, because it's much easier to set up. File and printer sharing without using a homegroup is a two-part process. First, you need to turn on sharing as described below. Second, you need to set sharing properties on the item itself or move it to one of the Public folders so that other people can access it.

Network discovery is turned off

To turn on network discovery

  1. Open Advanced sharing settings by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, and then clicking Control Panel. In the search box, type network, click Network and Sharing Center, and then, in the left pane, click Change advanced sharing settings.

  2. Click the chevron Picture of the chevron icon to expand the current network profile.
  3. If network discovery is off, under Network discovery, click Turn on network discovery, and then click Save changes. Administrator permission required If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

To share files

  1. Open Advanced sharing settings by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, and then clicking Control Panel. In the search box, type network, click Network and Sharing Center, and then, in the left pane, click Change advanced sharing settings.

  2. Click the chevron Picture of the chevron icon to expand the current network profile.
  3. Click Turn on file and printer sharing, and then click Save changes. Administrator permission required If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

To share files using the Public folders

  1. Open Advanced sharing settings by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, and then clicking Control Panel. In the search box, type network, click Network and Sharing Center, and then, in the left pane, click Change advanced sharing settings.

  2. Click the chevron Picture of the chevron icon to expand the current network profile.
  3. Click either Turn on sharing so anyone with network access can open files or Turn on sharing so anyone with network access can open, change, and create files, and then click Save changes. Administrator permission required If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

Do these steps on your computer and on any network computer running Windows 7 that you want to connect to.

Note

  • Network discovery is off by default for Public networks. Changing a network location type to Home or Work is another way to turn on network discovery. To learn how to change a network location type, see Choosing a network location.

Password-protected sharing is turned on

Password-protected sharing is on by default for computers in workgroups. When password-protected sharing is turned on, people using other computers on your network can't access your shared folders or printers unless they have a user account on your computer. There are two ways to turn on file or printer sharing:

  • Create identical user accounts on all computers in the workgroup (recommended). For more information, see Create a user account.

  • Turn off password-protected sharing. To turn off password-protected sharing, follow these steps:

  1. Open Advanced sharing settings by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, and then clicking Control Panel. In the search box, type network, click Network and Sharing Center, and then, in the left pane, click Change advanced sharing settings.

  2. Click the chevron Picture of the chevron icon to expand the current network profile.
  3. Under Password protected sharing, click Turn off password protected sharing, and then click Save changes. Administrator permission required If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

Note

  • Password-protected sharing is not available on computers that are on a domain.

The computers aren't in the same workgroup

For information about joining a workgroup, see Join or create a workgroup. Note that the default workgroup name in Windows 7 is WORKGROUP.

You don't have permission to access the file or folder you're trying to access

Contact the owner of the file or folder to ask for permission. If you're on a corporate network, contact your network administrator.

Group Policy might be blocking the connection

If the computer you're trying to connect to belongs to a domain, it is possible that the network administrator has enabled a policy that blocks connections to domain-joined computers. Contact the network administrator for assistance.

Your computer doesn't have the latest updates for your router

To make sure you have the latest updates, check with the router manufacturer.