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Using Homegroups in Windows 7

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Windows 7's new HomeGroup network feature makes Windows 7 networks a great combination of ease of use and security. Windows 7 and home networks expert Mark Edward Soper, author of Easy Microsoft Windows 7, shows you how to set up and manage a homegroup.

Windows 7 includes a new network management feature called HomeGroup. Unlike previous network management features, such as the choice in Windows XP between simple file sharing (the default easy-to-use but not secure file sharing system) and per-user permissions-based file sharing (secure, but not easy to configure or manage), HomeGroup enables users of Windows 7 computers to create a home network that is secure and yet easy to manage and use for file sharing and printing. HomeGroup is not just for computers, either: It also provides an easy way to manage streaming media to devices on the network.

When you set up a homegroup, Windows automatically generates a password that is used by all Windows 7 users who join the network (the password can be changed as desired). Whether users connect to the homegroup with wired or wireless networking, the homegroup's password requirement prevents unauthorized users outside the network from accessing homegroup shares.

Within the homegroup, sharing different types of files requires only a few mouse clicks to specify what to share on each machine, and printers can be shared automatically with other users.

Requirements for a Homegroup

The requirements for setting up a homegroup are simple:

  • Two or more computers running Windows 7 on the same network (wired or wireless)
  • The network location for each computer must be set to Home
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