Windows Network and Sharing Center Guide

In Windows 7, 8 and Windows 10 all network and internet connection configuration settings are contained in the Network and Sharing Center, one of the most important sections of the Control Panel.
You can access this Connection Center, as well as from the Control Panel to the Network and Internet section, also by right-clicking on the network icon next to the clock at the bottom right of the screen or from the command prompt, by running: control.exe / name Microsoft.NetworkAndSharingCenter.
Knowing the meaning of the main options in the Network Center is useful not only for optimize your computer's internet connection, share a printer and secure it from intrusion, but also and above all for know where and how to intervene in case of problems.

NOTE: In Windows 10, Only the options to configure IP addresses and network parameters are also in the Network section within Settings (found on the Start menu).

1) To start the guide to the Network and Sharing Center you need to talk about the public networks and private networks.
The first thing you notice in the network settings screen is the list of active networks where, for each of them, it is written if there is internet access, some network card is used and if it comes to a private or public network.
Information about internet access is the first indication you should look at in case of connection problems.
The fact that the network is private makes the information circulating inside it protected from the outside.
If, on the other hand, the network is public, all connected computers see each other.
Windows automatically assigns public or private status to the networks you connect to.
Generally speaking, la home network is private while a wifi network you connect to around is public.
If, for example, you go to a friend's house or an office with many people and connect to the available network to access the internet, this network must be set as public, so as to prevent anyone from being able to browse the files. of our shared folders.
Sometimes Windows will ask whether to enable file and printer sharing and the discovery of other computers on the network; by answering YES, the network is set as private, otherwise by answering NO, the network is set as public.

If you want to change the public or private setting for a network in Windows 7 just click on the writing under the name of the network directly from the connection center.
READ HERE for set up private home network and public for all others in Windows 10

2) Sharing configurations are not fixed and can also be changed.
To do this, you must press, in the network connection center, on the link on the left, "Modify impostazioni di condivisione Avanzate".
The window that opens allows you to specify whether to enable sharing on the public network, on the private network and on all networks.
All settings are the same and repeated for each profile.
The sections of this window are:
- Network discovery: if when you open Windows Explorer, you can see the name of another computer connected to the network under the Network section and, therefore, that the computer can be seen by other computers and vice versa.
By default, this setting is enabled for private networks.
- File and printer sharing: if you want other computers to be able to access the shared folders and printers connected to your computer.
Generally speaking, you can also keep it off for all networks, unless you want to share files with other computers in your home or office or if you have a printer in your home that you want to use with all computers.
I refer to another article regarding the procedure to follow to share files between PCs and access shared folders.
- Homegroup connections: another way to share files and folders, easier, safer and more immediate.
In our Network and Sharing Center, we see, next to the name of active networks, the link to create a Homegroup. Of how to use this feature I had already written a guide with the procedure to share files with the Homegroup in Windows or disable it.
In Windows 10, the homegroup no longer exists, replaced by the share nearby.

In Windows 10 there are also other options including:
- multimedia streams, useful for turning your computer into a DLNA server and streaming music, movies and pictures with other devices on the network.
- Public folder sharing which is better to disable.
- Connections File sharing set with 128-bit encryption, unless you need to share files with Windows 95, Windows 98, or Windows 2000.
- Password protected sharing, absolutely to keep activated, to force anyone who tries to explore the resources on the network to enter a username and password of a computer account to access the data.

These configurations are automatic, but very important to check to avoid what is described in an old but always current article describing how easy it is enter the PCs and see the shared folders of other computers.

3) Next to Connections: you can click on the name of the WiFi or Ethernet network card to quickly open the window connection status details.
In this window you can see all the connection parameters, the signal quality for Wi-Fi networks, the speed of the network, how long we have been connected, etc.
You can also click the button Disable to disconnect the PC from the network, the key Diagnosis to try to identify a problem and on the key Property, to manually change the various parameters.
You can then set a fixed IP address and, above all, you can change DNS on the PC.
If the network is wifi, there is also a button Wireless Property, which allows you to configure the automatic connection to that network and to see the type of security of the wifi, including the password which you can see here in clear text.

4) To create a new PPPoE internet connection there is a button in the center of the Network Center.
Networks are actually seen and managed by Windows automatically.
Manually adding a network is only necessary when you need to make a VPN connection or a Wifi connection whose name is not visible in the networks list.
From here you can also create an ad hoc network, which no longer exists in Windows 10.

5) The Troubleshooting section it is all a list of links to guide the user to diagnose and understand any problems with the internet, with the network card, with the Home Group, with the sharing of folders and printers, etc.
The most useful part of the various guides is that relating to Internet connections and the network card.
In general, however, I recommend reading the brief guide on on how to solve internet connection problems

6) Finally, let's click on the link on the left Modify impostazioni scheda which is important for network troubleshooting.
The list of network adapters on your computer also includes any virtual networks, Ethernet ports, and Wifi adapters.
For each network you can see the details of the connections and the parameters as already seen in point 4.

7) The links at the bottom left of the Network and Sharing Center refer to the configuration of the Windows Firewall and Internet Options, which however refer to Internet Explorer.

For any doubts or questions or additions to the article, feel free to leave a comment

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