In this lesson, you will learn several networking concepts: workgroup, computer name, IP address, network location, and homegroup. Our goal is for you to understand what these concepts are and what their role is in network sharing.
Even though the workgroup is a very old concept that may seem irrelevant in modern operating systems, it is still important and can negatively impact networking. That is why we will explain it in detail.
While you may already know what a computer name and IP address are, you may not fully understand the concept of network locations that was introduced in Windows 7. As you will see in this tutorial, the location you assign to a network is makes a big impact in your network of experience sharing. With just one tweak, you will completely change the way you may or may not share.
Homegroup is another topic that users fail to understand. Even though it is easy to set up and not many people understand why they should use it and how. In this tutorial, we’ll explain the basics of a homegroup, and in future tutorials, we’ll detail how it works.
Without a proper understanding of these basics, you won’t be able to successfully share folders and devices, especially if you have multiple operating systems on your network. Let’s start.
What is a working group?
A workgroup is a collection of computers that are part of the same network. All computers are peer-to-peer and do not have control over another computer. A workgroup makes it easy to discover computers that are part of it and share resources such as folders or printers.
Workgroups are not password protected and can only be created for computers that are part of the same local network. They are designed for small networks like the ones you have in your home or small businesses. According to Microsoft, there should not be more than 20 computers in one workgroup so that network management does not become too complicated.
A workgroup can include computers with different operating systems. You do not need to have the same operating system or the same version to use this feature.
How to know if your computer is part of a workgroup
By default, all Windows computers are part of a workgroup named WORKGROUP. Therefore, when setting up a network, you do not need to configure this setting.
However, you can double check that your Windows PC or device is part of a workgroup by going to Control Panel > System and Security > System. There you will find a section called «Computer name, domain and workgroup settings».
Look for an entry titled «Working Group».
What is the name of the computer?
Each operating system asks you to name your computer when you install it on your PC or device. Windows is no exception to this rule. This is because this name is important for identifying a computer when it is part of a network.
The name of your computer can be found by going to Control Panel > System and Security > System. There you will find a section called «Computer name, domain and workgroup settings». Look for an entry called «Computer Name».
To successfully join a workgroup and use all available network sharing features, your computer must have a unique computer name. This name must be no more than 15 characters long and must not contain spaces or special characters such as: \ *,. » or @.
What is an IP address?
When you connect to a network, you will always receive an IP address. An IP address stands for «Internet Protocol» address and is a numeric label for your computer. This concept is similar to a computer name in that it is used to identify your PC or device on a network and provide a unique address where other computers or devices can find it.
IP addresses are binary numbers, but they appear in human-readable notation such as 192.168.0.2. In a home network, IP addresses are automatically assigned to each device or computer by the router when a network connection is established.
There are several ways to find out the IP address of your computer. The easiest way, which works on all versions of Windows, is to open Command Prompt. Open the Run window by pressing «WIN + R» on your keyboard, type «cmd» and press «Enter».
Then type «ipconfig» command and press Enter. A list of all your network adapters and their properties will appear. Each network adapter has a field named IPv4 Address that displays its IP address.
If you are using multiple network cards or virtualization software, make sure you are looking at a network device that is connected to your home network. There you will see the IP address of your active network connection.
By browsing the network, you can find computers using their IP address and computer name. For example, you can open the Run window in Windows by pressing WIN + R on your keyboard. Then type \\ followed by the name of a computer on your network or its IP address.
After pressing «Enter» you will see the same thing: shared folders and devices of this computer.
What is a network location?
A network profile or network location is a set of network and sharing settings that apply to an active network connection.
Every time you connect to a new network in Windows 7, you are prompted to choose a location for it. Options available at home, at work and in public places.
Depending on the assigned location, features such as file and printer sharing, network discovery, and others can be turned on or off. When creating your own home network, you should always select «Home Network».