Privacy and security considerations when sharing media in Windows Media Player

If you have a private network, you can use Windows Media Player to share the contents of your library with other people, computers, and devices in your home. Here are answers to some common questions about the privacy and security implications of sharing media in the Player. If you don't see your question listed here, go to the Windows Media Player FAQ online.

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If I turn on sharing, will everyone in my home have access to the contents of my Player library?

No. By default, when you turn on sharing, the Player only shares audio, video, and picture files to the devices that you have specifically allowed to access your Player library.

For more information about customizing what media types are shared and which devices have access to your library, see Share your media with other people or devices.

If I turn on sharing, can other people modify the contents of my Player library?

No. The sharing feature only permits other computers and devices to play the items in your Player library. It doesn't permit other computers or devices to add, remove, or modify items in your library.

If I turn on sharing, can people access items on my computer that aren't in my Player library, such as my documents?

No. The sharing feature only shares the items in your Player library. If the item isn't in your library, it isn't shared.

If I turn on sharing, can people outside of my home access the contents of my Player library?

That depends upon the security of your home network. Regardless of whether or not you turn on sharing, you should take steps to secure your home network from intruders. For example:

  • If you use a cable modem or DSL modem to connect to the Internet, consider installing a router that isolates your area of the network from that of your neighbors.

  • If you use a wireless network in your home, it is recommended that you turn on a secure authentication service, such as Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) or Wi‑Fi Protected Access (WPA).

For more information about securing your home network, see Making your network more secure.

If I turn on media sharing, which firewall ports are opened?

When you turn on media sharing, the Player automatically opens several Windows Firewall ports. For more information, see the question about network and firewall requirements in Sharing media on a network.

Why shouldn't I manually switch my network settings from public to private?

For your protection, media sharing is automatically turned off when you are connected to a public network (such as in an airport, coffee shop, or library). Although it might be possible for you to override this Player safeguard by manually changing your network settings from public to private, doing so is not recommended.

When you manually change your network settings from public to private, you run the risk of sharing your media to everyone else on the public network. You also run the risk of making your computer more vulnerable to attack by other people on the network because several Windows Firewall ports are opened when media sharing is turned on.