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What is a network location?

Updated: March 30, 2011

Applies To: Windows Home Server 2011

A network location is a collection of network settings that Windows applies when you connect to a network. The settings vary and can be customized based on the type of network that you use. The settings for a network location determine whether certain features such as file and printer sharing, network discovery, and public folder sharing are turned on or off. Network locations are useful when you need to connect to different networks.

As an example, you may own a laptop computer that you use at both home and on the job. When you are in the office, you connect to the office network. However, when you come home, you use your laptop to access and play videos and music that is stored on the home server. When you connect to a new network and specify the location type, Windows assigns a network profile that is preset for that kind of location. The next time you connect to that network, Windows recognizes the network and automatically assigns the correct settings. Because of this, you can rest easy knowing that an added layer of security is helping to protect the information on your computer, and that only the network features you need for that location are turned on.

There are four kinds of network locations:

  • Home network.   Choose this network for home networks or when you know and trust the people and devices on the network. Computers on a home network can belong to a homegroup. Network discovery is turned on for home networks, which allows you to see other computers and devices on the network and allows other network users to see your computer.

  • Work network.   Choose this network for small office or other workplace networks. Network discovery, which allows you to see other computers and devices on a network and allows other network users to see your computer, is on by default, but you can't create or join a homegroup.

  • Public network.   Choose this network for networks in public places (such as coffee shops or airports). This location is designed to keep your computer from being visible to other computers around you and to help protect your computer from any malicious software from the Internet. HomeGroup is not available on public networks, and network discovery is turned off. You should also choose this option if you're connected directly to the Internet without using a router, or if you have a mobile broadband connection.

  • Domain.   The Domain network location is used for domain networks such as those at enterprise workplaces. This type of network location is controlled by your network administrator and can't be selected or changed.

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