Windows 7 is more network oriented than previous Microsoft Operating Systems, and this includes local networks as well as Internet. For easier, and better, experience in using the local network few important upgrades were done to the OS, to allow more secure and easier multimedia and file sharing. Maybe most important is the introduction of the ”Homegroup” – easier way for small computer networks to be created and content to be shared. If you have one PC with Windows 7 better than “Home Basic” edition, you can use it to create the homegroup. Computers with “Home Starter” and less, can join groups, but not create them. At the time of creation or joining the home group you select which files to include and which to protect from network access – do this carefully, and don’t share important security information – if a PC inside the homegroup catches a computer virus it will have access to all other computers’ shared information.

How to select with whom and what you will share

You can select to share different things with different people in the homegroup. You can set your preferences at the time you create or join the homegroup, or change them whenever you want. Setting or changing is simple – select a folder or file, you will see a “Share with” menu showing in the top pane. Click it, and you will see all different options you have – you can share with “Nobody”, this will prevent network access to this folder and all its files. You can share with “Homegroup” in two modes – read or read/write, these are pretty self explanatory, but still – read mode allows only read access to the folder and files, while read/write mode allows full access (including deletion, be careful with this access, and who do you give it too). The last option – share with “Specific people…” also allows you to share in these two modes, but with person (or persons) you select.

There is also another option, which is helpful if you want to share files instantly without worrying about permissions – so called “Public folders” in the “Documents” folder. These are visible to the whole network by default, and by copying a file or folder to one of them it is automatically shared. Remember that files put in these folder do not have “read only” permission set, so do not place important originals there.

How to see what you have shared

Start Windows 7 Explorer and click any file or folder. In the bottom (Details) pane, you will see a tag saying “State… Shared” or “State…Not Shared”. Remember to not share important personal information with the whole network, as sharing may be harmful instead of useful in some cases.