Domain, workgroup, or homegroup: what's the difference?
PCs running Windows on a network must be part of a domain or a workgroup. PCs running Windows on home networks can also be part of a homegroup, but it's optional. Belonging to a homegroup makes it easier to share files and printers on a home network.
PCs on home networks are usually part of a workgroup and possibly a homegroup, and PCs on workplace networks are usually part of a domain.
In a domain:
A domain is a group of PCs on a network that share a common database and security policy. A domain is administered as a unit with common rules and procedures, and each domain has a unique name.
One or more PCs are servers. Network administrators use servers to control the security and permissions for all PCs on the domain. This makes it easier for administrators to make changes because the changes are automatically made to all PCs. Domain users must provide a password or other sign-in info each time they access the domain.
If you have a user account on the domain, you can log on to any PC on the domain without needing an account on that PC.
You probably can make only limited changes to a PC's settings because network administrators often want to make sure network PCs are consistent.
There can be thousands of PCs in a domain.
The PCs can be on different local networks.
In a workgroup:
A workgroup is a group of PCs that are connected on a non-domain network and share resources, such as printers and files. When you set up a network, Windows automatically creates a workgroup and gives it a name.
All PCs are peers; no PC has control over another PC.
Each PC has a set of user accounts. To log on to any PC in the workgroup, you must have an account on that PC.
There are typically no more than twenty PCs.
A workgroup isn't protected by a password.
All PCs must be on the same local network or subnet.
In a homegroup:
A homegroup is a group of PCs on a home network that can share pictures, music, videos, documents, and printers. A homegroup is protected with a password.
PCs on a home network must belong to a workgroup, but they can also belong to a homegroup. A homegroup makes it easier to share pictures, music, videos, documents, and printers with other people on a home network.
A homegroup is protected with a password, but you only need to enter the password once, when adding your PC to the homegroup.
Open System by swiping in from the right edge of the screen, tapping Search (or if you're using a mouse, pointing to the upper-right corner of the screen, moving the mouse pointer down, and then clicking Search), entering System in the search box, tapping or clicking Settings, and then tapping or clicking System.
Under Computer name, domain, and workgroup settings, you'll see either the word Workgroup or Domain, followed by the name.
Open Network and Sharing Center by swiping in from the right edge of the screen, tapping Search (or if you're using a mouse, pointing to the upper-right corner of the screen, moving the mouse pointer down, and then clicking Search), entering network and sharing in the search box, tapping or clicking Settings, and then tapping or clicking Network and Sharing Center.
If you see the word Joined next to HomeGroup, your computer belongs to a homegroup.
For more info about workgroups, see Join or create a workgroup. For more info about homegroups, see HomeGroup from start to finish.