We answer: What are Network locations in Windows 10 and how to use them?

4 minute read

Online safety is quite important, therefore Microsoft created several features designed to protect Windows 10 users. Network locations is one of these features, and today we’re going to explain you what are network locations and how do they work.

What are network locations and how do they work in Windows 10?

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As previously mentioned, network locations are designed to protect your PC while connecting to different networks. We wrote briefly about network locations in our how to protect your Windows 10 device on public Wi-Fi network article, so you might want to check that article for some extra security tips.

Network locations were introduced in Windows Vista, and over the years Microsoft improved and streamlined that feature. This feature made its way to Windows 10, and it works almost the same like in previous versions of Windows.

Network location is basically a profile with certain settings related to network discovery and file sharing. When you access a certain network for the first time Windows 10 will ask you to choose one of the three profiles: Home network, Work network and Public network. Each of these profiles comes with different settings optimized for certain conditions.

For example, Home network option is designed for networks that you fully trust. This option comes with most settings enabled, so you can easily see other computers that are connected to this network. In addition to being able to see other devices on this network, you can also create or join Homegroup and share files easily with other devices on your network.

Work network profile comes with the same settings that allow you to see other devices on your network, but unlike with Home network profile, by using the Work profile you won’t be able to create or join Homegroups.

Last profile is Public network, and this profile doesn’t allow you to see other computers connected to the same network. At the same time other computers won’t be able to see your PC as well, therefore you should be relatively protected from malicious users. Since file sharing is disabled for this profile, malicious users on the same network won’t be able to share any potentially harmful files with you. As you can see, this profile is especially useful if you’re in a internet cafe or if you’re using Wi-Fi network at any public location along with many other unknown users.

We should mention that you can easily change your Network locations settings by following these steps:

  1. Press Windows Key + S and enter network. Select Network and Sharing Center from the list of results.
    network-locations-network-sharing-center
  2. Once Network and Sharing Center opens, click the Change advanced sharing settings.
    network-locations-network-sharing-center (2)

Now you should see network settings for all available profiles. You’ll notice that there are two groups of profiles, Private that include Work and Home network profiles and Guest or Public group.

In Private group first option is Network discovery. By turning on this feature you allow your computer to be seen by other network devices on your network. If you’re on a home network and you recognize all the devices on your network, you can freely turn this feature on.
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Next on our list is File and printer sharing. This feature allows you to turn on file and printer sharing with other network devices. Again, if you recognize all the devices on your local network, you can turn on this feature.

Last option is HomeGroup connections, and this feature allows you to manage your Homegroup connections. By default, Windows manages the Homegroup connections for you, but if you want you can use user accounts and passwords to connect to other computers.

Guest or Public group has only two options and those options are Network discovery and File and printer sharing. Since we already explained how both of these options work there’s no need to explain again.

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Last on our list is All Networks group, and the first option available is Public folder sharing. By turning this option on you allow other people on this network to access files stored in the Public folder. By default this option is turned on.

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Next option is media streaming and you can enable this option to allow other people and devices to access pictures, music and videos on your PC. In addition, by using this option you allow your computer to find media on the network.

File sharing connections allow you to choose the method of encryption for file sharing. By default 128-bit encryption is used, but you can switch to 40 or 56-bit encryption if your devices don’t support 128-bit encryption.

Last option is password protected sharing. This is one of the most important options because it allows only users that know your computer password to access your files or printer. If the user doesn’t have your password, it won’t be able to see your Public files or any of your shared files.

Network locations are important feature of Windows 10, and we hope you understand a bit better how network locations work and how to use them to protect your PC.

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