Troubleshoot problems finding computers on a home network

Here are solutions to some common problems with finding computers on a home network.

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I don't see any computers or devices in the Network folder.

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 Picture of 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:

    1. Open Network and Sharing Center by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking Network and Internet, and then clicking Network and Sharing Center.

    2. If network discovery is off, click the arrow button Picture of the arrow button to expand the section, click Turn on network discovery, and then click Apply. Administrator permission required If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

I don't see a computer or device that I expect to see in the Network folder.

This can occur for two reasons:

  • 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.

  • The computer's network discovery setting is set to Off, which prevents you from seeing it. To change the network discovery setting on another computer, log on to the computer, click the Start button Picture of the Start button, click Control Panel, click Network and Internet, and then click Network and Sharing Center. Click the arrow button Picture of the arrow button to expand the Network Discovery section, click Turn on network discovery, and then click Apply. If you don't own or have access to the computer, ask the person who owns it to change the network discovery setting to On so you can see the computer in the Network folder.

Notes

  • 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.

From a computer running Windows XP, I can't see any network computers running Windows Vista.

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.

To check or change the workgroup name on a computer running Windows XP

  1. Click Start, click Control Panel, click Performance and Maintenance, and then click System.

  2. Click the Computer Name tab.

    The workgroup name is displayed. To change the workgroup name, click Change.

To check or change the workgroup name on a computer running Windows Vista

  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. The workgroup name is displayed under Computer Name, Domain, and Workgroup Settings. To change the workgroup name, click Change Settings. Administrator permission required If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

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

  4. In the Computer Name/Domain Changes dialog box, type the new workgroup name in the Workgroup box, and then click OK.

    Picture of the Computer Name/Domain Changes dialog box
    The Computer Name/Domain Changes dialog box

Note