Windows 7 Network Locations

If you already have a wired or wireless home network (or, more typically, a home network that features both wired and wireless connection types) or you bring a Windows 7–based mobile computer to a new networking environment (such as an Internet cafe, coffee shop, airport, or similar location), you will run into one of Windows 7’s best features: the Set Network Location wizard. This wizard will appear during Setup if it detects a network connection. Or you will see it later, whenever you connect to a new network for the first time. (This is true for both wired and wireless networks.)

The Set Network Location wizard takes the guesswork out of connecting to a network by providing clear explanations of the different ways in which you can make the connection.
It offers three options:

• Home network: Used for your home network or other trusted network type. When connected to such a network, your computer will be discoverable, meaning other computers and devices on the network will be able to “see” your PC and, with the appropriate credentials, access any shared resources your PC may provide. Additionally, you will be able to discover other PCs and devices connected to the network.

• Work network: Used for your workplace or other trusted network type. As with the Home location, a network configured for the Work location provides discoverability of network-based PCs and devices.

• Public network: This is used for any public network connection, especially Wi-Fi connections you might run into at the aforementioned cafes, coffee shops, airports, and similar locations. With a Public network type, you’re assumed to need Internet access and little else: network discoverability is kept to a minimum and software on your system that might normally broadcast its availability—such as shared folders, printers, and media libraries—remains silent.

Given the apparent similarities between Home network and Work network, there must be some difference between the two, right? Microsoft wouldn’t create two different network locations that were, in fact, exactly the same, would it? Actually it would (and did): from a functional standpoint, Home and Work are in fact identical. The only difference between the two is the name and the icon used to denote each network location type: the Home network location features a friendly-looking home icon, whereas the Work network location is denoted by a more industrial-looking office building. Why have two different locations when a single “Home or Work” location would have achieved the same goal? Keep in mind that the point of the Set Network Location wizard is to make things easy. To the average consumer, Home and Work are obvious options, whereas a combined “Home or Work” might cause a bit of wasted time pondering what that was all about. Behind the scenes, the Set Network Location wizard is, in fact, working with just two location types, one of which covers both Home and Work and one that represents the Public location. So Home network and Work network are, in fact, really of type Private and Public network is really of type Public.

Setting the network location is generally a “set it and forget it” affair. Windows 7 will remember the unique setting you configure for each network you connect to and then reapply those settings when you reconnect. This is especially handy for mobile computers.
When you’re at home or work, Windows 7 ensures that your network location type is Private (Home network, typically); but when you connect to the Internet at a coffee shop you may frequent, the location type will be set to Public.

What’s the real difference between Private and Public network locations? (Or, if you like, Home/Work network locations and Public network locations?) In both location types Windows Firewall is on, but configured somewhat differently. Network discovery is on while connected to Private networks, but off for Public networks. Sharing of folders, printers, and media is on by default in Private networks, but off in Public networks.
When you’re connected to a network, you’ll see a Network icon appear in the taskbar notification area. (This icon was called a “connectoid” in previous Windows versions.) This icon can have different states, and while the states are identical between wired and wireless network types, the icons are different. The following states are available:

• with Internet access: In addition to being able to connect to resources on the local network, you are also connected to the Internet.

• Connected with local access only: You are connected to the local network but do not have Internet access.

• Disconnected: We noted previously that Windows 7, unlike XP, doesn’t leave stranded disconnected network icons littered around your taskbar notification area. Here is the exception: if you’re connected to a network and that connection is severed—perhaps because the gateway or switch sitting between your PC and the network has been disconnected—and there are no other networks to which you can connect, you will see the notification icon.

While Windows 7 does utilize workgroup-type networking by default, the notion of workgroups is now depreciated, especially with the onus of resource sharing largely resting on the shoulders of the HomeGroup technology we discuss later in the chapter. In Windows XP and previous versions of Windows, you could automatically connect to shared folders on other computers only when they were in the same workgroup—that is, on the same network (or IP subnet). But this is not true in Windows 7. In fact, you could configure every single PC in your home with a different workgroup name and you’d still have no issues sharing information between them (and this is true whether you use HomeGroup or not). The only time workgroups are relevant in Windows 7 is when your home network has both Windows 7–based PCs and PCs that are based on older Windows versions. In such a case, you should configure the workgroup name to be identical on all PCs. You do this in a similar manner to how it is done in Windows XP and Vista: from the Start menu, right-click Computer, choose Properties, and then click the Change settings link under the heading Computer name, domain, and workgroup settings.

Source of Information : Wiley Windows 7 Secrets

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