Being connected to a network, whether it is a wired or a wireless one also comes with it its own set of features and connectivity options depending on the network location profile that you have selected for it.
Now, what if there are preset default options that doesn’t really serve the purpose for the network connection that you are currently using? What if you want to maintain your device’s visibility over the network but you want to disable file and printer sharing? This is actually possible in Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and even in Windows 10.
In this tutorial, we will be showing the steps in how you can do these tweaks and even more customization steps that will influence how network and sharing features work so if you’ve been wanting to do these changes on your Windows 10 machine then you’ll need to join us until we reach the very end.
Accessing the Network and Sharing Center in Windows 10
The very first step that you need to go through is accessing the Network and Sharing Center in your Windows 10 machine. Just like any other settings and features that are found in the Windows operating system, you can do the accessing of this section in different ways. The easiest one is done by right-clicking on the Network status icon that is found on the System Tray at the extreme-right end of the Taskbar as you can see below.
After right-clicking on the icon, you should be able to open an options box where you will simply need to click on the one that says “Open Network and Sharing Center” as you can see on the screenshot above in order to launch the Network and Sharing settings Window of the Control Panel. Another method in doing this is done from the universal Settings app home Window itself. To launch this modern app in your Windows 10 machine, just press the Windows + I keys and it should launch on your computer screen instantly.
Once the Network & Internet section of the universal Settings app opens, you should be able to see the options and tweaks that are available for your computer’s Network and Internet connection. From this section, all you need to do is click on the link that is found towards the bottom which says “Network and Sharing Center” and after you do so, the Network and Sharing Center Window of the traditional Control Panel feature.
If you want to go the traditional way then you can also launch the Network and Sharing Center from the Control Panel Window and in order to do this, you will first need to press the Windows + X keys in order to open a menu that will appear on the bottom-left portion of the screen which contains the “Control Panel” link as you can see being highlighted on the screenshot below.
After the link is clicked, the Control Panel Window should launch instantly and from its home screen, you will need to click on the Settings category that says “Network and Internet” as shown on the screenshot below.
On the Window that follows, you will see the contents of the “Network and Internet” section and from here, all you need to do is click on the link that says “Network and Sharing Center”. The process in accessing this section directly from the Control Panel Window is quite long but you can also use the search box at the top-right portion of the Window in order to open the “Network and Sharing Center” Window instantly by clicking on its link from the search results that would appear.
Once you are on the Network and Sharing Center section of the Control Panel Window, it is time to click on the link that is found on the navigation pane at the left which says “Change advanced sharing settings” and that’s the time you’ll be able to view the different options and tweaks that are available for changing how sharing works in different network location profiles.
Turning Network Discovery On or Off for Private Networks
If you don’t know yet what Network Locations are, you’ll need to get acquainted with them by reading this previous tutorial. There are only two of these network locations available in Windows 10 versions intended for use by ordinary users compared to the three that were previously available in Windows Vista and Windows 7. They are the “Private” and “Guest or Public” network locations.
In the “Advanced sharing settings” section of the Control Panel which we have just opened above, you will see the sharing settings for “Private” networks being displayed. In case you want to stay in this type of network location but you want to disable network discovery of your device, in other words you don’t want other devices and computers connected to the same network as you are to see you, all you need to do is select the “Turn off network discovery” option by clicking on the circle selection button that is found on its left as shown on the screenshot below.
Once you are done making this tweak, you will simply need to click on the button that is found at the bottom-right portion of the Window which says “Save changes” in order to save and execute the tweaks that you’ve just made.
Turning File and Printer Sharing On or Off for Private Networks
Another option that is turned on by default when you choose to set a network as a “Private” one after you connect to it for the first time is the one that enables you to Share files and Printers over the network with all the other computers that are part of it. If you want to turn this option off, all you need to do is click on the circle selection that is found at the left of the “Turn off file and printer sharing” option as shown below.
Tweaking HomeGroup Connections
Another feature that is available for Private type networks is the HomeGroup and if you want to tweak how this feature works and manages all of the other computers that are connected to your network then you can choose between two options. The first one is recommended by Windows 10 and it says “Allow Windows to manage homegroup connections (recommended)” as you can see on the screenshot below. You can select this option if there are different HomeGroup connections in the computers that are connected to your network or if they are owned by different users. This typically happens in office network configurations.
Now, if all of your other computers are logged in using the same account which is common in home networks, you can choose the second option which says “Use user accounts and passwords to connect to other computers”. Doing this will enable HomeGroup to be managed by using the user account credentials instead of Windows controlling the process like giving connection passwords and other features of the HomeGroup. Once you are done doing this tweak, you will need to click on the“Save changes” button that is found at the bottom-right portion of the Window in order to save and apply the changes you just did.
So you are now familiar with the tweaks available for “Private” type networks. Now, what about the ones that you have set as “Public” networks? What options are available for this type of network? That’s exactly what we’re going to find out next so just read on towards the end of this tutorial.
Turning Network Discovery On or Off for Guest or Public Networks
The next group of options that is available in the Advanced Sharing Settings section of the Control Panel are the options for “Guest or Public” networks. Network discovery is turned off by default in this type of network location since you wouldn’t normally want to keep your device visible to other devices connected to public networks like the one that you’ll find in your local coffee shop.
If you trust the public network that you got connected to then you can choose to turn on network discovery and doing this is very simple, just click on the circle selection that is found at the left of the “Turn on network discovery” option as highlighted above and once you are done doing this, simply hit the “Save changes” button at the bottom-right portion of the Window in order to have the changes applied!
How to Enable File and Printer Sharing for Guest or Public Networks
Another option that is turned off by default in “Public” type networks is the one that enables file and printer sharing over the network. Just like the option that we’ve shown above, this second one is turned off intentionally so you can be safe and secure while connected to a network set in a public place where hundreds of people whom you don’t know are connected.
If you trust the people connected to the network or you are with friends that are connected to the same public network and you want to do a quick file transfer to them then you can enable file and printer sharing simply by clicking on circle selection found at the left of the option that says “Turn on file and printer sharing” as highlighted on the screenshot above. Once you are done doing this tweak, simply hit the “Save changes button” located on the bottom-right portion and that’s it! Your changes are applied and saved instantly!
Common Settings for Both Private and Public Networks
Aside from the options and tweaks that we’ve shown above which are available in “Private” and “Public” network types, there are also some other options that are common to these two network locations and you will be able to view them by clicking on “All Networks” settings category as shown below.
After clicking on the “All Networks” category, you should be able to view all of the options that are available under it. There’s not really much in it that needs to be tweaked but it’s always good if you are familiar with how things look like and know what they are actually used for.
If you don’t know yet what each option is for, you don’t need to be intimidated or worry about choosing the wrong option because every item in this section is defined well as you can see on the screenshot above. However, we advice that you just leave the settings in this page as they are since they’re already set for the best performance and protection for both Private and Public networks.
Keep Yourself Safe by Tweaking Advanced Sharing Settings in Windows 10
As you can see, there’s really a good set of options that you can tweak in order to make Windows 10 more secure no matter to which type of network it is connected to. These options and tweaks that we’ve shown in this tutorial would also help you do different things which are not available by default under these two types of network locations but we strongly advice that you keep these settings on their default values unless you know exactly what you’re doing.
If you have topic suggestions, please feel free to let us know through the comments section below and we’re going to cover them on our next tutorial. We’re also here to help you find your way in case you are lost in one of the steps that we’ve shown in this article, just describe the problems or errors that you’ve got and we’ll do our best to answer your query the soonest. Our community of readers might also be able to be of help to you so please don’t hesitate to join the discussion under this post.