Windows 7 : Sharing Resources on a Network - Methods for Sharing in Windows 7

10/12/2012 9:00:45 PM

1. Some Networking Buzzwords

Networking has its own set of buzzwords.

  • Resource: Items you use on the network, including a folder, shared media, a printer, or other device.

  • Shared resource: A resource accessible to other users within a network. A shared folder is often referred to as a share or network share.

  • Local computer: The computer at which you're currently sitting.

  • Local resource: A folder, printer, or other useful thing on the local computer or directly connected to the local computer by a cable. For example, if there's a printer connected to your computer by a cable, it's a local resource (or more specifically, a local printer).

  • Remote computer: Any computer in the network other than the one at which you're currently sitting.

  • Remote resource: A folder, printer, or other useful thing on some computer other than the local computer. For example, a printer connected to someone else's computer on the network is a remote resource (or more specifically, a remote printer).

Figure 1 shows an example of how the terms local and remote are always used in reference to the computer at which you're currently sitting.

Figure 1. Examples of local and remote resources, from your perspective.

2. Methods for Sharing in Windows 7

Windows 7 includes three methods for sharing resources, each of which has its own advantages. The following sections explain these different methods.

2.1. Homegroups

Homegroups are a new feature in Windows 7 designed to simplify resource sharing and access for home networks. The first Windows 7 computer added to a network creates the homegroup, and then other Windows 7 computers on that same network can join the homegroup. Once your computer is part of the homegroup, you have access to the resources shared by the other computers in the homegroup.

When you use a homegroup for sharing, you specify which folders you want to share. You can share those folders with either read or read/write permissions with the rest of the homegroup. You can also set permissions on a per-user basis to allow one person to access a folder or file but not others.

Only Windows 7 computers can participate in a homegroup. A computer running any edition of Windows 7 can join a homegroup, but computers running Windows 7 Home Basic and Windows 7 Starter can only join a homegroup, not create one.


Computers in a homegroup do not have to belong to the same workgroup.

2.2. Workgroup

Although homegroups are a great new way to share resources in a network, only the Windows 7 computers on the network can participate. Computers running other versions of Windows cannot participate in the homegroup. In these situations, you can use workgroups to share resources on the network.

A Windows PC, regardless of the version of Windows it is running, must be a member of either a workgroup or a domain (covered in the next section). A workgroup isn't a boundary that controls security. Rather, workgroups provide a means for organizing and discovering resources on the network.

The default workgroup name in Windows is, not surprisingly, Workgroup. Computers that share the same workgroup name and which reside on the same network segment appear grouped together when you browse the network. Figure 2 shows a workgroup.

To access shared resources in a workgroup, you must have an account on the computer that is sharing the resource. Assuming a small home network of three computers and the desire to access resources on each one, this means you either need to have your own account on each computer or you create a common account on each computer that everyone uses for sharing resources.

2.3. Domain

In a domain environment, one or more domain controllers running Windows Server host all user accounts in a centralized directory called Active Directory (AD). Typically, rather than belong to a workgroup, your computer would be joined to the domain. When you log on, you log on with a domain account (stored in AD) rather than a local account (stored on your local computer).

In a domain, AD handles authentication services. So, if you share a folder on your computer, you can specify which other domain users or groups can access that shared resources, and what permissions they have in it. The advantage of this type of resource sharing is that every user needs only a single user account in AD, and that account can be used to access resources anywhere on the network.

2.4. How to choose?

If you are setting up a home network and all of your computers are running Windows 7, a homegroup probably makes the most sense. If your home network includes Windows Vista or Windows XP computers, using a common workgroup to share resources is a good option. Or, you can use a hybrid model where your Windows 7 computers share their resources through a homegroup and other computers use the workgroup.

Figure 2. Browsing a workgroup for shared resources.

In a business network, the number of computers generally dictates whether you choose a workgroup or a domain model for sharing. You can set up a Windows workstation as a file server, create an account for each person on the network on that computer, and use it to share resources. Whether you choose that route or use a domain and Windows Server for sharing really depends on how you will be using the network. In most cases, when you get about 5–10 computers, a domain and server make the most sense.

Windows client computers running Windows Vista and earlier are limited to a maximum of 10 concurrent connections, making them useful for centralized sharing in small networks but not in larger ones. Windows 7 supports up to 20 concurrent connections.


Using a domain for sharing implies that you have one or more centralized file and print servers on the network, so sharing from your client computer is unlikely (although possible).

  •  Windows Server 2003 : Advanced Backup and Restore (part 2) - Scheduling Backup Jobs, Shadow Copies of Shared Folders
  •  Windows Server 2003 : Advanced Backup and Restore (part 1) - Backup Options, The Ntbackup Command
  •  Windows Server 2003 : Restoring Data - Restoring with the Backup Utility
  •  Windows Server 2003 : Fundamentals of Backup
  •  Personalizing Windows 8 : Choosing Your Language
  •  Personalizing Windows 8 : Tweaking Your Touch Experience
  •  Windows Server 2003 : Hardening IPSecurity Policies
  •  Windows Server 2003 : Extending IPSec Operations, Designing IPSec Policies to Meet Secure Communications Needs
  •  Windows Server 2003 : Configuring a Windows IPSec Policy (part 4) - Using Group Policy to Implement IPSec, Monitoring and Troubleshooting IPSec
  •  Windows Server 2003 : Configuring a Windows IPSec Policy (part 3) - Setting Up the IPSec Monitor and Testing the Policy, Writing Policies Using netsh
    Top 10
    Review : Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art
    Review : Canon EF11-24mm f/4L USM
    Review : Creative Sound Blaster Roar 2
    Review : Philips Fidelio M2L
    Review : Alienware 17 - Dell's Alienware laptops
    Review Smartwatch : Wellograph
    Review : Xiaomi Redmi 2
    Extending LINQ to Objects : Writing a Single Element Operator (part 2) - Building the RandomElement Operator
    Extending LINQ to Objects : Writing a Single Element Operator (part 1) - Building Our Own Last Operator
    3 Tips for Maintaining Your Cell Phone Battery (part 2) - Discharge Smart, Use Smart
    - First look: Apple Watch

    - 3 Tips for Maintaining Your Cell Phone Battery (part 1)

    - 3 Tips for Maintaining Your Cell Phone Battery (part 2)
    - How to create your first Swimlane Diagram or Cross-Functional Flowchart Diagram by using Microsoft Visio 2010 (Part 1)

    - How to create your first Swimlane Diagram or Cross-Functional Flowchart Diagram by using Microsoft Visio 2010 (Part 2)

    - How to create your first Swimlane Diagram or Cross-Functional Flowchart Diagram by using Microsoft Visio 2010 (Part 3)
    Popular Tags
    Video Tutorail Microsoft Access Microsoft Excel Microsoft OneNote Microsoft PowerPoint Microsoft Project Microsoft Visio Microsoft Word Active Directory Exchange Server Sharepoint Sql Server Windows Server 2008 Windows Server 2012 Windows 7 Windows 8 Adobe Flash Professional Dreamweaver Adobe Illustrator Adobe Photoshop CorelDRAW X5 CorelDraw 10 windows Phone 7 windows Phone 8 Iphone
    Visit movie_stars's profile on Pinterest.