Switching between your home and workplace networks


If you want to bring a laptop home from work and connect it to your home network, you might have to change some computer settings.

Accessing the Internet

If you only want to use the Internet from home, connect your laptop from work to the home network.

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To connect to an Ethernet home network

  • Plug one end of an Ethernet cable into the laptop and the other end into the hub, switch, or router. You should have immediate Internet access.

To connect to a wireless home network

Your laptop must have a wireless network adapter.

  1. Turn on the laptop.

  2. Open Connect to a Network by clicking the network icon (Picture of the wireless network icon or Picture of the wired network icon) in the notification area.

  3. Select your home wireless network in the list, and then type the network security key, if required.

    You should be connected to the wireless network and have Internet access.

Note

  • If your home network is wireless, we recommend using a network security key. Not doing so could put your laptop at risk of unauthorized access by hackers or malicious software. For more information, see Why should I secure my wireless network?

If you have problems connecting to the network or accessing the Internet, see Why can’t I connect to a network? or Why can’t I connect to the Internet?

Enabling file and printer sharing

To access shared files and printers on your network, you first need to enable file and printer sharing. The easiest way to do this is by creating or joining a homegroup.

Use a homegroup to share files and printers

When you set up a computer with this version of Windows, a homegroup is created automatically. But you can also create a homegroup by following these steps:

  1. Open Network and Sharing Center by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, and then clicking Control Panel. In the search box, type network, and then click Network and Sharing Center.

  2. Click Choose homegroup and sharing options.

  3. Follow the instructions to create or join a homegroup.

Note

  • If your computer belongs to a domain, you won't be able to share files and printers with a homegroup, but you can still access files and printers shared by others.

  • Homegroups are not available in Windows  Server 2008 R2.

To share files and printers without using a homegroup

We recommend that you use a homegroup to share files and printers because it's a much easier way to set up sharing. For more information, see the "Use a homegroup to share files and printers" section above.

  1. Open Network and Sharing Center by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, and then clicking Control Panel. In the search box, type network, and then click Network and Sharing Center.

  2. If your network is listed as a Public network, click Public network, and then click either Home network or Work network.

If your computer running Windows 7 is joined to a domain, you probably won't be able to change the network location to Home or Work. In that case, click Change advanced sharing settings in the left pane and make sure the following options are turned on:

  • Network discovery (see Enable or disable network discovery )

  • File sharing

  • Public folder sharing (if you want to share files using your Public Documents, Public Music, Public Pictures, and Public Videos folders)

  • Printer sharing

Note

  • To use password-protected sharing, you must have exactly the same user accounts and passwords on both computers. This is usually not the case if you are using a work laptop and a home computer. (The password-protected sharing option is not available on domain networks.)

Accessing a printer

To use a printer that's connected to a home computer from your laptop, first turn on network discovery (if the printer is attached to a computer running Windows 7), and then make sure that the printer is shared.

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To check if a printer is shared or to set up printer sharing

  1. Log on to a computer that's part of your home network and is connected to the printer.

  2. Open Devices and Printers by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, and then, on the Start menu, clicking Devices and Printers.

  3. Right-click the printer you want to share, click Printer properties, and then click the Sharing tab.

    If the printer is shared, Share this printer will be selected. If it's not selected, click Share this printer, and then click OK.

To use a shared printer, you need to add the printer to your laptop.

To add a printer

  1. Open the Add Printer wizard by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking Hardware and Sound, clicking Printers, and then clicking Add a printer.

  2. Select Add a network, wireless or Bluetooth printer, and then follow the steps in the wizard.

Sharing files and folders

You can share files and folders in two ways: through simple file sharing—putting the files or folders into a common shared folder, or in-place file sharing—marking individual files or folders to be shared without moving them from their current location.

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To set up sharing on computers running Windows XP

If any of your home computers are running a version of Windows XP earlier than Windows XP with Service Pack 2 (SP2), you must upgrade them before you can set up sharing.

  1. Run the Network Setup wizard on each home computer, if you haven't already done so.

  2. When prompted, choose to enable file sharing. This creates a Shared Documents folder on each computer. Files in this folder are accessible to anyone on your network.

Notes

  • To open the Shared Documents folder, click Start, click My Documents, and then click Shared Documents.

  • In Windows XP, you can't share individual files. You have to share the entire folder. To share folders and their contents without moving them into the Shared Documents folder, go to the location containing the folder that you want to share, right-click the folder, and then click Sharing and Security. Click the Sharing tab, click Share this folder, and then click Apply.

To set up sharing on computers running Windows Vista

The Shared Documents folder has been replaced with the Public folder in Windows Vista.

  1. In Network and Sharing Center, click the chevron Picture of the chevron icon next to Public folder sharing, and then click one of the following options:
    • Turn on sharing so anyone with network access can open files

    • Turn on sharing so anyone with network access can open, change, and create files

  2. Click Apply. Administrator permission required If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

    Files in the Public folder are now accessible to anyone on your network.

Notes

  • To open the Public folder, follow these steps: In the Documents folder, click the arrow next to Folders at the bottom of the left pane, and then click Public.

  • To share files or folders without moving them into this folder, go to the location containing the file or folder that you want to share, right-click the file or folder, click Share, and then follow the steps in the wizard.

To set up sharing on computers running Windows 7

The Public folder has been replaced with individual Public folders for each type of file (Documents, Pictures, Music, and Videos) in Windows 7.

  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 Public folder sharing, click one of the following options:

    • Turn on sharing so anyone with network access can read and write files in the Public folders

    • Turn off Public folder sharing (people logged onto this computer can still access these folders)

  4. Click Save changes. Administrator permission required If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

    Files in the Public folders are now accessible to anyone on your network.

Notes

  • To open the Public folders, follow these steps:

    1. Click StartPicture of the Start button, and then click your user account name.
    2. Double-click the Documents, Pictures, Music, or Videos folder, and then double-click Public Documents, Public Pictures, Public Music, or Public Videos.

  • To share files or folders without moving them into a Public folder, go to the location containing the file or folder that you want to share, right-click the file or folder, click Share, and then follow the steps in the wizard.

Accessing network computers

Before you can access another network computer, you need to know its name.

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To find a computer name

  1. Open System by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, right-clicking Computer, and then clicking Properties.

  2. The name appears under Computer name, domain, and workgroup settings.

To access a home computer from your laptop

To access files on a home computer, you can either log on as a guest (this means you will only have access to files in the Public folders), or, if you have a user account on that computer, you can log on using your account. For more information about user accounts, see User accounts: frequently asked questions. To access another computer, follow these steps:

  1. Open Network by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, and then clicking Control Panel. In the search box, type network, and then, under Network and Sharing Center, click View network computers and devices.

  2. If you have a homegroup, double-click Homegroup, and then double-click the computer you want to access.

  3. If you don't have a homegroup, double-click a computer's icon to see the files and folders that you have access to.

Notes

  • If your user name and password for the computer you are currently logged on to are different from those for the computer that you are trying to access, you might be prompted to enter your logon information.

  • If the other computer is set up to allow access to anyone on the network, you will be automatically connected to it but you will only have guest access. This means that you will only have access to files in the Public folders. You can automatically connect to another computer on the network using your logon information by storing your passwords. For more information, see Store passwords, certificates, and other credentials for automatic logon.

To access your laptop from a home computer

  1. Open Network by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, and then clicking Control Panel. In the search box, type network, and then, under Network and Sharing Center, click View network computers and devices.

  2. Double-click the icon for your laptop.

  3. When you are prompted to log on, type your work domain and user name, separated by a backward slash (for example: domain\username), and then type the password you use to log on at work.

    A folder containing the shared files and folders on the laptop will open.