How To Setup a Home Network to Share Files Between Computers

Step 1. Hardware Identification

There are many different ways to setup a home network.  In this instance we are going the simplest and most practical route.  What you will need are the following

1. A Router :  A Wireless router is best and most practical

2.  2 networkable devices such as two computers, a networkable TV, Smart Phone

3. Network cards and cables:  If your device are wireless you will not need the cables.  If do not have a wireless card installed on your computer I would encourage you to get one.  They are cheap and offer less clutter.  In our example we will focus solely on using a wireless setup as it’s the fastest way to go.  The one exception to this is if your main computer is close to a desktop with no wireless capability you can simply use a network cable to connect your desktop to the router.

Step 2. Connect the Computers to the Router

Install your router.  To do this we will simply plug in the router to a power source and then connect your modem to the router using the supplied RJ45 cable.  Your modem with only have one port in most cases.  The router will have several ports. You want to connect the cable to the Uplink Port.  This port is often times on the far left side when looks at the back of the router.

If your router came with a CD I encourage you to use the CD to setup the router.  You should setup encryption/ A Password on the router so no others have access to it.  After all we are going to be opening up sections of your computers to share files and we don’t want the outside world to have access to these shared files.

Be sure to select Home/Office for your home connection.  This will be needed later on.

On Each computer device you should be able to go to the Network section and connect wirelessly to the internet.  Go to a few web pages to ensure you have internet access on all device.  This will ensure you are connected.

Step 3.  Add Each Computer to the Same Work Group

We will be looking only at Windows 7/Vista in this example. XP follows a similar path

On the first computer Hit the Windows Start Button on the bottom left and type “workgroup” into the run command/search programs and files box.  Now select “Change WorkGroup name”.  On XP you can also right click on the “My Computer” and select properties.

Now select the Network and Sharing option on the top left side of the dialog box.

Select the “Change” button. A New dialog box will open were you can change the computer name.  Change the name of the computer to help you identify what computer that is.  In my case I have the name as Jacob PC.

Now in the the bottom section you need to change the workgroup on all computer to the same name.  In my case I am going with the default workgroup name, however making this unique can help add an extra layer of security to your private network.  After making these changes it the Ok button and then the OK button again on the System Properties dialog box.  You will be asked to re-boot the computer if you changed the name of the work group.

Follow the above for all computers on your network.  Ensure you have the same Workgroup name.  The computer names should all be different for easy identification.

Ensure you re-boot all the computers after you change the Workgroup name.  This is needed for the changes to take effect.  Now that all computer are on the same workgroup we now need to setup file sharing permissions.

File Sharing Options.

Windows 7 has many different options for sharing files.  It’s recommended to only share the files and folders that you want everyone to have access to.  In this example we are going to be showing you how to enable the sharing of the public folder and how to disable needing a password to access that folder.  We will also be giving full rights to add and remove files to the public folder.  Keep in mind that your wireless network should be secure with a password.  However if you have kids you do not want them deleting sensitive information or pictures you may store on the network.  That is why I do not recommend sharing your private folders without requiring a password.

Open the file sharing options.  To do this you can type ” Network and sharing Center” into the run command.

We will now select the Change Advanced Sharing Settings…

In this example we will be looking at the Home or Work section as shown below.  However you can apply the same settings to the public network but your system will not be secure if you do that.

When connecting to a wireless network for the first time you select what network profile that connection should have.  If for example you go to a hotel you should select public network. That way your files that you are sharing on the Home / Network will not be shared.

In our case we will be changing the share option on the Home or Work profile.

Ensure the below are all selected.

A. Turn on network discovery

B. Turn on file and printer sharing (Only needed if you want to share that printer and that printer is not wireless.  The computer needs to be turned on and out of hibernation mode if you want to printer to a printer that is hard wired into that device)

C. Turn on sharing so anyone with network access can read and write files in the Public folders

D. Turn Media Sharing on and select “Media Steaming Options” to cnofigure what devices can find media on your computer and what they can find. You may want this turned off if you have media that you do not want others accessing.  Normally I only keep this on for the computer I connect to my TV with.  My other computers I have it setup so others cannot access my media.

E. Enable files sharing for device that use 40- or 56 bit encryption (Optional).  You can keep the recommended settings but my TV seems access media better at this lower encryption.  I’m not sure it really even matters as you have a secure network.

F. turn off password protected sharing ( This is so you do not have to use a user name and password to access the public folder or any other folder you choose to share later on.  You can always change this option after you ensure things are working

G. Allow Windows to Manage Homegroup connections. This makes it easier to share and no require other users to log-in.

Now hit the Save changes button and follow the above on all computers.  You may be require to log off and back on for changes to take effect.  I recommend just re-booting the computer.

You can apply the same settings to the home/office section if you want or change the options to suite your needs.  I like keeping my public folder open because I just have copies of pictures there as well as video to share with other users in the house and my TV

To Access the Public Folder on Other Computers

Hit the Windows Start Button and select “Network”.  If network is not there you can always select computer and in the left side pane you can select Network.  Give the box a second to populate and you should now see all your computers there.

Select the device you want to connect to.  In my case I am selecting J-Lap

I now see the folder I am sharing.  If I click on User it takes me to the public folder.

Now you should have the setting all setup to be able to connect to the Public folders on each computer. If not we need to setup the sharing of files for the Public folder or any other folder you want to share.  I strongly recommend you just start out sharing the public folder.  Most times this does not need to be done but for several of you may need to do it.  This step is also good for any other folder you want to share on your network.

Hit the Windows Start Button and select computer.  Open the C:\ drive and browse to this location

c:\User\

Now right click on the Public user hover over “Share With”.  You will see the option “Advanced Sharing Options”.  Click It.

The screen you now see is the same as the above screen we showed you.  Select the same options as before. We are opening up the Public folder so that everyone has access to it.  Use the same options as shown above to grant read/write access for everyone and select no password so everyone can go to that folder with ease.

You can do this on every folder you want to share.

Ask your Questions or for help if you get stuck.  This is the first version of the How to Setup a Home Network guides so it will most likely need a few tweaks.  Be sure and suggest easier ways of doing things if you find a short cut.