The Windows operating system includes extensive networking functionality, and in this video you’ll learn about network locations, remote access features, network shares, and more.
It’s very common these days for us to move between different kinds of networks throughout the day, and Windows can adjust to these changes because there are different network locations that can be automatically configured in Windows. In Windows 7, these network locations are called the Home network, the Work network, and the Public network. On the Home network, everything is trusted. You’re at home and everything that’s within your house is something that you can probably trust to be on the network. If you’re configured to be on a Work network, you can see other devices but your system cannot join a HomeGroup. HomeGroups are only available when you’re on a Home network. And a Public network is one where you’re out in public. You’re at an airport, you’re at a coffee shop, and you are effectively invisible. Other people are not able to share files that are on your system or access anything that might be on your Windows configuration. In Windows 8.1 these network locations have been simplified a bit. There is a Private network, which is similar to the Home network that you had in Windows 7, where everything can be shared and you can connect to any of the devices on that network. And then there is a Public network where there is no sharing or connectivity between devices on that network. To be able to view these settings in Windows 8 or 8.1, you can open up the Charms, go to Settings, look at the network interface and view the connection settings for the interface that interests you.
One very convenient network technology in Windows is the ability to view the desktop of a remote device. There are two primary ways to do this in Windows. One is through remote assistance. This is when you need a one-time access to a computer. You set up a single-use password and someone is able to connect to your computer, even through a network address translated firewall. You don’t have to make any special firewall settings. Remote assistance is able to work without any special settings. If you need something that is available 24 by 7, then you need to configure remote desktop connection. This is for ongoing access and is usually configured by someone who needs to administer that remote device. You’re authenticating locally on that computer, so you need the correct authentication credentials to be able to connect via remote desktop. And then you also need to configure a firewall to properly forward the ports so that you can connect to that remote desktop system.
One of the most important functions of our computers these days is the ability to connect to the internet. And if you’re in a large environment, you may not have the ability to directly connect to devices and other servers that might be on the internet. Instead, there might be a proxy that’s between you and the internet. This is a go-between. You make requests of the proxy, the proxy then performs the requests to the internet. When it receives the response, it makes sure that the response is something that you can properly view, and it sends that information to your computer. You would configure these proxy settings in the Control Panel under Internet Properties. Under these settings, you would configure the IP addresses of the proxy and you would also include any exceptions. Not everything can be proxied, so you want to be sure that any of the communications that go outside of the proxy are properly defined in this exception list.
When you want to transfer files from one computer to another on a Windows network, you use a network share. This is going to create a folder that anyone can connect to across the network. We commonly view these folders using something like Windows Explorer to be able to list out all of the shares that are out on the network. To be able to use one of these shares, we commonly will map the share that’s on the network to a drive letter that’s local on our computer. So we choose a drive letter that’s not currently in use, say drive M, and we would say that drive M is going to map to this particular share that exists on another device across the network. There is a way that you can also hide shares on the network by putting a dollar sign at the end of the share name. This is not a security feature, but it does prevent somebody from seeing those shares if they’re simply looking for what shares might be available on a remote device. To see what shares have been configured on your computer, you can go to Control Panel under Administrative Tools and choose Computer Management.
Another common feature with Windows networking is the ability to share a printer that might be connected to your computer. Instead of putting printers at everyone’s desk, you can put one printer in place and have everybody on the network print to your computer where the printer might be located. This is something that you can define in Windows Explorer. You simply add a printer, and you can define it as a network connected printer. To define one of your local printers as now a network accessible printer, you can go to Windows Explorer and add a printer. You would choose to add a network, wireless, or Bluetooth printer, and then it will give you a list of available printers that you could share on the network. In our case, we’ll choose this Dymo label writer and I’ll click Next. And then it will tell me that I’ve successfully added that particular printer on my computer, and from this point, anybody who accesses the network is able to see that that printer’s available. And they can print directly to that printer from their workstation.