There are three ways to organize your Windows network. In this video, you’ll learn about Windows HomeGroup, Windows Workgroups, and Windows Domains.
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There are three common ways to organize network devices in Microsoft Windows. The first we’ll talk about is a Windows Workgroup. A workgroup is a logical grouping of devices. This might be a set of devices that is in a department within a business, or it might be all of the devices that you have at home.
Each device in a Windows Workgroup is a standalone machine. If someone needs access to your device, you would create a local account on your computer to provide them with that access.
If that person needed access to another computer, a separate local account would need to be configured on that separate computer. And each of those accounts may have the same username, but there might be different passwords. There’s no central way to manage the authentication on a Windows Workgroup. This is also something that’s very commonly done on a single subnet like a network you might have at home.
A Windows Homegroup takes the idea of a Workgroup but makes it much easier to share information. This is something, as the name implies, that you would commonly do in a home network.
This makes it very easy for someone at home to share their videos and their files and their music with everybody else who’s in the house. This is something you can only do on a single private network. If your network settings are not set to Private or not set to Home, then you can’t use the Windows Homegroup.
And in most businesses, whether it’s a small business or very large business, you’ll commonly see all of your Windows devices connected to a Windows domain. A Windows Domain provides centralized control and management of these devices. There’s a single login for all of your devices, and those devices have access to the resources that are important to them on that network.
With Windows Domains, you can support tens or hundreds of thousands of devices, all with centralized logins and the ability to manage all of those devices from one central point.
A Homegroup is Microsoft’s way to make it very easy to share files when we’re inside of our house, and it works exceptionally well. You do not have Homegroup capabilities in Windows Vista. You would need Windows 7 or Windows 8 or 8.1 to be able to use a Homegroup. This is where your network is set for the home. If you’re Windows 7, it’s specifically called the Home Network. If you’re Windows 8 or 8.1, it’s referred to as the Private Network.
Instead of having separate logins on everybody’s computer, Homegroup makes this completely centralized, and you have a single password that you share for everybody who’s on the Homegroup Network.
Let’s set up a Homegroup on my network. I’m going to choose Homegroup from the Control Panel, and it’s going to tell me that there is currently no Homegroup on the network. So let’s create one by clicking Create a Homegroup. It tells me I can share files. I’ll set everything up with a password, and I get to choose exactly what resources are available on the network. We’ll click Next.
Now I can select, based on the Libraries or Folders, the permission levels that I’d like to set. For example, if I would like my pictures not to be shared, I can disable that. And I might want to share all of my documents. Once you’ve defined what the permissions are, you can click Next.
It’s now going to set up the Homegroup and give you a password that you can then share with all of the other devices that are on your Home Network. Here’s the password for my network.
Now I will take this same password and take it to all of the other devices that are in my home. Now that they have exactly the same password on all of them, we can easily share files, documents, and much more using this Homegroup Network.
If you don’t have a network at home and you’re not using a Homegroup, then you’ll want to choose between a Workgroup or Domain Configuration. A Workgroup is one that is usually very small. You’re only going to have a limited number of devices on a Workgroup, because each individual computer maintains its own set of users and its own set of passwords. This is a very non-centralized configuration. And it’s very difficult to manage once you get above a certain number of devices.
On larger networks, you tend to connect everyone to a centralized Windows Domain. This uses a central database that Microsoft calls Active Directory. So you need an Active Directory server in order to support a Domain Configuration.
With the Domain Configuration, all of your systems are centralized. Everybody logs in with one username and password, and you can set configuration settings for everybody’s computer from one central Active Directory configuration.
To see if you’re in a Windows Workgroup or Windows Domain, you can go to your control panel and choose System. And it will tell you in the Computer Name, Domain, and Workgroup settings what the name of your computer is and if it is in a Workgroup or a Domain. In this case, my computer is in the C Springs Workgroup.
If you want to change the Workgroup that you happen to be in or you’d like to join a Windows Domain, you can click Change Settings, and you have the option to change what this computer name is.
And perhaps you’d like to be a member of a domain. SGC is the name of my domain. I’ll click OK, and it asks for administration information to be able to do this. So I’ll put in the administrator information for my domain. And it will now join this domain that everybody else is a part of. This way I can centrally login and gain access to all the resources I need to be able to perform my job.