What Is the Network and Sharing Center?

Updated: February 7, 2008

Applies To: Windows Server 2008

The Network and Sharing Center provides connectivity between your computer and the Internet, a network, or another computer. With the Network and Sharing Center, you can gain access to network resources and functionality, whether you are in the same location as the network or in a remote location. Connections are created, configured, and monitored from the Network and Sharing Center.

With each connection you define in the Network and Sharing Center you can create a link between your computer and another computer or network. Outgoing connections contact a remote access server by using a configured access method (local area network [LAN], wireless networking, dial-up modem, ISDN line, cable or DSL modem, and so on) to establish a connection with a remote network. Conversely, an incoming connection enables a computer running Windows Vista® or Windows Server® 2008 to be contacted by other computers. This means your computer can operate as a remote access server. Whether you are connected locally (LAN, wireless, or broadband), remotely (dial-up or VPN), or both, you can configure any connection so that it can perform any required network function. For example, you can print to network printers, access network drives and files, browse other networks, or access the Internet.

Because all services and communication methods are configured within the connection, you do not need to use external management tools to configure connection settings. For example, the settings for a dial-up connection include features to be used before, during, and after connecting. These include the modem you use to dial, the type of password encryption you want to use upon connecting, the network protocols you use after you connect, and of course, the phone number to be dialed. Connection status, which includes the duration and speed of a connection, is viewed from the connection itself; you do not need to use another tool. For information about configuring a connection, see "Creating and Configuring Network Connections" in the Network and Sharing Center Operations Guide (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=108841).

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