Windows Vista : The Wired Ethernet Network - Personalize Your Network

9/4/2012 9:39:35 PM
By default, the name given to your new Windows Vista network is WORKGROUP. Additionally, the network may be configured initially as a public network, which is not nearly as secure as a private one. Finally, the network will not have network discovery turned on. You need to configure all this to make your network secure and to personalize it.

Name the Network

For Windows XP, the default network name was MSHOME. If you upgraded a Windows XP computer to Windows Vista, the default name remained the same as it was before you upgraded, whether that was MSHOME or something else you created. If you purchase a new Windows Vista–based PC, though, it’s automatically WORKGROUP.

It’s best if all computers on your network use the same network name. If they don’t, you’ll have a hard time sharing data and hardware. You shouldn’t leave the network name as WORKGROUP or MSHOME, though, because that’s the default, and if at any time a hacker does try to access your network, you can bet these are the first names the hacker will try.

To change the name of your network and create something unique for you, follow these steps:

Click Start, right-click Computer, and click Properties.

Note the Workgroup name. As shown in Figure 1, it’s WORGROUP. Click Change Settings to modify the name.

Figure 1. Change the default network name.

Click Continue, and in System Properties, also shown in Figure 4-2, click Change.

Type a new name for the network. Click OK, OK, and OK again.

Click Close.

Close any open programs, and restart the computer.

Make the Network Private

Networks come in one of three types: domain, public, and private. You won’t have a domain if you’ve been following along here. Domains are reserved for organizational intranets, such as those found in large corporations. To have a domain, you need an Active Directory domain controller, which you likely don’t have. That leaves two choices for your network, public and private.

A public network is a computer that is connected to a network and has a direct connection to the Internet. You’ll find these types of networks in libraries, schools, and coffee shops. You do not have a public network.

A private network is a network used for personal access to the Internet and connects to trusted computers. This is the kind of network you have. Private networks are used for homes, home offices, small businesses, and similar locations. Private networks also include an Internet gateway device, such as a router, to protect the network from incoming traffic from the Internet.

To make sure you have a private network configured and not a public one, and to change it if necessary, follow these steps:

Click Start, right-click Network, and click Properties.

Verify that the network is private, as shown in Figure 2. If it is not, continue; if it is, skip to the next section.

Figure 2. Make the network a private one.

Click Customize.

Choose Private.

Click Next and then Close.

Turn On Network Discovery

By default, network sharing and discovery is turned off on your Windows Vista–based machine. This is to protect your PC from unauthorized access. You need to turn on network discovery so you can see other computers on the network and share files, folders, media, and printers.

It’s important to note that just because the Network and Sharing Center shows a network is configured and you are connected to the Internet, this does not mean the network is configured properly. You must turn on network discovery and establish what you want to share.

On the Windows Vista–based computer, follow these steps:

Click Start, click Control Panel, and then open Network and Internet.

Open the Network and Sharing Center.

As noted, network discovery is turned off by default. To turn it on, click the down arrow by Network Discovery, and click Turn On Network Discovery, as shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3. Turn On network discovery so you can view and access the second computer and its shared data.

Click Apply.

Click Continue to verify you want to turn on network discovery.

If prompted whether to turn on network discovery for all public networks, select No, Make The Network That I Am Connected To A Private Network.

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