How to Set Up a Home Network with Windows 7
In earlier versions of Windows, setting up a network was often a hassle and something which novice users tended to have a lot of difficulty with. These days, many homes have multiple computers and keeping them all connected over a network is a great way to share files, printers and much more. Windows 7 makes it even easier to setup a home network with its new “HomeGroup” feature. The following guides will show you how to share files and printers over a network as well as set up a HomeGroup for all of the computers in your home. Before you begin, ensure that you have all computers you want to use connected to the same network hub or broadband router, either wired or wirelessly.
1 – Setting Up a HomeGroup
One of the main new features in Windows 7 is the HomeGroup feature. As the name suggests, it is primarily designed for setting up a home network, allowing everyone connected to easily share files and printers. The only limitation is that, for a computer to join your HomeGroup, it needs to be running Windows 7 as well.
In order to use the HomeGroup feature, you’ll need to be connected to a home network. When you first connect to the Internet, you’ll be asked to set a network location. If you’re not sure whether you chose “Home network” or one of the other options, right-click on the network icon in the system tray and click “Open Network and Sharing Center.” Beneath where it says “View your active networks,” you’ll see the name of the network you’re connected to as well as what type of network it is. If it doesn’t say “Home network,” click on the link and choose “Home network.”
In the Windows 7 start menu search box, type “HomeGroup.” The HomeGroup setup wizard will start. Click “Create a HomeGroup” to continue. On the next page, choose which types of file you want to share by selecting the relevant boxes. The files to be shared will, by default, be the ones located in the user account libraries. You can customize these by customizing which libraries access which folders. Click “Next” when you’re ready.
Windows 7 will configure your HomeGroup and present you with a password. Write down this password and keep it somewhere safe. Even better, copy it down to a new text document. Click “Next” once you’re ready. Click “Finish” on the next page and check the settings on the following page before clicking “Save changes.”
Now it is time to access your HomeGroup from another computer on your network. Go to that computer and open Windows Explorer. You can do this just by clicking “Computer” in the right-hand side of the start menu. In the left-hand pane of the Explorer window, you’ll see an icon called “HomeGroup.” Remember that, for this to appear, the computer will need to be running Windows 7. Click the icon and click “Join now.” Enter the password from the previous step, select the documents you want to share from that computer and click “Finish.”
2 – Accessing Network Locations
You can access network locations regardless of which version of Windows the other computers are using. Open Windows Explorer. In the left-hand pane, you’ll also see a “Network” icon. Click the tiny arrow beside it to expand it, or click on the icon to open the network locations in the full Windows Explorer view. You’ll see a list of computers connected to the same router or network hub as well as other network devices such as network hard drives, printers, media players and the router itself.
By clicking on any of the other computers connected to the network, you’ll be able to access shared folders on that computer. Depending on how the permissions are set up, you may be able to read, edit and delete files. If you are unable to access a folder or edit or delete particular files, you’ll need to configure file and printer sharing on the remote computer as well as access rights for those folders.
Go to the computer you want to connect to and share files with. Right-click on the network icon in the system tray and click “Open Network and Sharing Center.” In the left-side pane of the network control panel, click “Change advanced sharing settings.” Ensure that network discovery, file and printer sharing and public folder sharing are all turned on. You may also want to turn on password-protected sharing. Scroll down the window to view this option. With password-protected sharing enabled, users logged in on other accounts will need to enter the password for the user account on the computer they’re connected to. Click “Save changes” when you’re done.
So long as you have enabled the options mentioned above, public folders will already be shared. If you want to share different folders, open Windows Explorer by clicking “Computer” in the right-side pane of the start menu. Navigate to the folder which you want to share over your network. Right-click on the folder icon and click “Properties.” Click the “Sharing” tab. Click the “Advanced Sharing” button. Check the box beside “Share this folder” and click “OK.” You should now be able to access this folder from any other computer connected to the network.
3 – Sharing Printers
There’s rarely any point in having multiple printers in the home when you can easily share one printer with the whole network. If you have a wireless network printer, it’s even more convenient, since you can access the printer from any computer connected to the network without having a host computer. If you don’t have a network printer, follow these steps to learn how to share a printer over a network from a host computer running Windows 7.
From the start menu, open the control panel and, under “Hardware and Sound,” click “View devices and printers.” Right-click on the printer that you want to share and click “Printer properties.” Click on the “Sharing” tab.
Check the box beside “Share this printer.” You can change the name of the printer if you like, though it’s usually best to leave it as is. It’s also a good idea to check the box beside “Render print jobs on client computers,” since this takes the load off the host computer and deals with the printing jobs on the computer you’re actually printing from instead. Click “OK” when you’re done. From now on, whenever you try to print a document from any other computer connected to the network, you’ll see the shared printer appear as an option. Note that the printer and the host computer will have to be turned on for it to be usable. If you have a network printer, connected directly to your network hub or broadband router, it doesn’t even need to run through a host computer. However an even easier way of enabling printer sharing in Windows 7 is to create a HomeGroup.
If you need help with home networking in Buckinghamshire call us today on Gerrards Cross 01753 884700 or Beaconsfield 01494 730120.