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Whenever you connect to a new network in Windows 7, you have to decide what kind of network location you are connecting to. Is the new network a Home, Work or a Public Network ?

The different Location Settings allow or block certain network features or functions.  The general rule as Microsoft tells it is that if you know every computer (and user) on the network, use the Home Network Setting, if not choose one of the other.  But you may have wondered what are the differences between Home, Work and Public Network Settings, and which network features are switched on or off?

Simply put, the Location Settings affect whether or not a computer can be seen and see other computers on the network.

Public Location

It should be a well-known fact by now that connecting to a public (or unsecured) network put your computer at risk. Risk from being compromised in some way or other, like hacking, spyware etc. Therefore when connection to a Public Location, Windows will turn off Network discovery, which will hide you from the other users on the network. It will turn off Network Sharing Features (files, folders, printers etc.) and of course  disabling the HomeGroup Feature.

As long as you don’t need to share anything on your computer with other computers on your network, then this is the most secure Location Setting you can use, to protect your computer and your privacy.

Work Location Vs Home Location

At work you do know most of the computers and users, and you do need to connect to the office Printer, scanner, server and whatnot. But, you do not need to share private information. So the big difference between Home and Work Location is the ability to use the HomeGroup Functionality. HomeGroup (as you well know) are the home version of a Workgroup. It makes it easier to share your files, folders, printers etc. with everyone else connected to the network, but at the same time it can also make you more vulnerable to other prying eyes.

Network Location Overview




Network Discovery Off On On
File Sharing Off On On
PrinterSharing Off On On
WorkGroup* Off On On
HomeGroup Off Off On

*Depending on Windows Version

Change Location


The fix is easy if you have chosen the wrong Network Location.

  1. Open the Network and Sharing Center by Right Clicking the Network icon in your Taskbar.
  2. Click on the current Location Setting to display the Network Location Settings Window.
  3. Choose your new Location.


About Thomas

Computer geek from the age of 7, which amounts to 30 years of computer experience. From the early days (when every computer company had their own OS) of DOS, Windows 1.0 through Seven...

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2 thoughts on “Windows Network Locations, what are the differences ?”

  1. WimP says:

    so what is the best to be hidden for a home user?

    1. Thomas says:

      if you do not intend to share ANYTHING it will be the easiest setting to use.
      But then you will not be able to share anything with other users either

Comments are closed.

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