Have you ever thought that it would great if all your computers could talk to each other and work as one big computer? Maybe you’re tired of constantly having someone in your office emailing those reports to you when their computer is only a few feet away. Whatever your situation the solution is networking. Networking used to be complicated and something only reserved for the technically elite but in recent versions of Windows it has become much simpler. Now you can set up your own small network in your home or office by using Homegroup.
Networking with Homegroup is fairly simple but there are some things that can get tricky. We’ll go over exactly what Homegroup can do for you and what it will take to get it running. I do recommend having all your computers upgraded to Windows 10. It really is the best version yet and solves so many of the problems you’ve probably heard about with the newer versions of Windows. You can Windows 10 from Amazon if you didn’t get the recently ended free upgrade.
What is Homegroup?
Homegroup is a simplified version of traditional windows networking that allows your computers to talk to each other and share information. Unlike old networking it doesn’t require a server and extra complicated setup. Homegroup allows you simply make your computer ‘visible’ to other computers that share access to the same router. You can also use it to share access to printers.
Homegroup allows you to access files on other computers just as if they were stored on your own machine. It can also allow media players to be able to pull from all connected computers in the Homegroup so you can stream music and videos from any machine in the house. This way you can store tons of music and videos on a desktop then access them on a Windows 10 tablet like the Surface Pro. With all the data on the desktop your tablet doesn’t have to waste valuable hard drive space.
Issues With Homegroup
Homegroup networking is great but it does have a few issues that you should be aware of:
Security: Putting your computer on the Homegroup for anyone to access is a security risk. You have to have a password to join the Homegroup but once that’s entered the computer is open to all other computers. Make sure you have solid Wi-Fi security on your wireless networking so unwanted snoopers can’t potentially access one computer and then get into all the others.
Files: Sharing files on Homegroup is a little different than with a cloud service or through email. Instead of selecting files to upload and share with selected individuals, Homegroup opens up large chunks of your hard drive that anyone can dig around in. You can narrow the amount you want to share but the default is to share all your media folders and My Documents folder.
Any file you save to those locations will be automatically viewable by other computers so watch where you save.
Finding a Homegroup
Getting started with Homegroup is easy and can be done in just a few steps:
- First type ‘Homegroup’ into the ‘Search Windows’ box on the taskbar and select the Homegroup option from the list. If you’re using an older version of Windows you can get there by going to the Control Panel, select Network & Internet then Homegroup.
- The Homegroup window will come up and here you have two ways to proceed:
- If no computers have set up the Homegroup yet then it will say ‘There is currently no homegroup on the network.’ at the top. To create one you’ll need to click the button at the bottom called ‘Create a homegroup’. See below for how to go about doing setup.
- If another computer has already created the Homegroup, you will see who and on what computer the existing Homegroup was created. See below on how to join the existing Homegroup.
Creating a Homegroup
Create the Homegroup by selecting ‘Create a homegroup’ button. Click ‘Next’ on the following screen and you’ll see a list of folders. Select which folders you wish to share through the Homegroup then hit ‘Next’ at the bottom.
The Homegroup will be created and you’ll be shown the Homegroup password. Write this down somewhere safe if you plan on setting up other computers right away. They will need it to connect to your new Homegroup network.
Joining a Homegroup
Joining a Homegroup is easy. Start by clicking the ‘Join Now’ button at the bottom of the window then ‘Next’ on the next screen. You’ll then be taken to a list of folders that you can select to either share or keep private. If you don’t want to share a certain folder then set it to ‘Not Shared’ so it won’t appear to others on the Homegroup.
Once you’ve set your permissions and click ‘Next’, you’ll be asked to enter the password for the Homegroup. Obtain this from the person who set up the Homegroup originally or from the Homegroup settings of a computer that is already connected. After that you’re done!
Homegroup Creation Note:
You might see on the Homegroup options window a warning that says: ‘To create or join a homegroup, your computer’s network location must be set to Private.’ In this case, simply click the link under the warning, then click ‘Yes’ when prompted in a new window that pops up.
Accessing the Homegroup is easy and all you have to do is open up the File Explorer. On the left side, where your folders are listed, the bottom listing is the Homegroup. Here you will see a list of the computers that are connected using the Homegroup.
Simply open the computer like you would a folder and you will see all the things that computer is sharing. You can view, open and copy files on their computer just as if they were stored on your own computer.
Adding More to Homegroup
If you want to share a file on the Homegroup, all you have to do is place it in a folder that is already flagged as ‘Shared’. If you want to share a non-default folder, such as a folder full of pictures you have on your desktop, simply right click it. On the right click menu, hover over ‘Share With’ and you’ll see some options. You can set it to ‘Homegroup View’ or ‘Homegroup View & Edit’. View will allow people to only see and open the files available. This is handy for pictures and music. View and edit will allow others to change and copy the files.