In Windows, when you connect to a wireless network, it registers it as Public network or a Private network. A private network is basically a home and work network while a public network is anywhere else you don’t trust.
Sometimes Windows detects a private network as a public network and vice versa. You can make some changes manually to make sure you don’t accidentally share too much on a public network or block all sharing on a private network.
In this article, I will walk you through the steps for Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 8 and Windows 7.
In Windows 10, go ahead and click the Ethernet or wireless icon in the system tray of your taskbar. The Ethernet icon is like a small computer and the wireless icon is quite famous. When you do, click Network & Internet Settings link.
This will take you to the PC settings dialog with the Status tab selected. If you are connected to a WiFi network, click WiFi in the left pane, otherwise click Ethernet.
Go ahead and click on the name of the available WiFi or Ethernet network Connected status. Once you click on the network you will now be able to choose Public or Private.
For WiFi networks, you will also have the option to connect automatically when within range of the WiFi network.
In Windows 8.1, to change the network configuration we have to go to the PC Settings screen. To do that, open the Charms bar and click Change computer settings at the bottom.
Now click Network and you will see a list of connections i.e. Ethernet, Wireless, etc.
Now all you have to do is turn on Find devices and content right to buy. This feature turns off automatically for public networks, so when you turn it on, it turns the network into a private network.
For Windows 8, follow the following procedure. First, right click on the network icon on the Windows 8 system tray and click Open Network and Sharing Center.
Here you will see the network you are connecting to and the type of network that Windows 8 has identified it as.
As you can see above, my network is considered Private network, which is true because I’m at home and connected via Ethernet. If this is incorrect, there are several things you can do. First, you can click Change advanced sharing settings in the left pane.
Click Private and then make sure these options are enabled:
– Enable network discovery
– Turn on file and printer sharing
– Allow Windows to manage homegroup connections
Then collapse Private and expand Guest or Public and make sure you’ve set the following options:
– Turn off network discovery
– Turn off file and printer sharing
After doing this, you need to access the Windows 8 desktop and open the Charms bar. Click Setting and then click Network Icon.
You will see Network And after that Connected. Go ahead and right click on it and select Turn sharing on or off.
Now choose Right if you want your network to be treated as a private network and No if you want it to be treated as a public network. Note that the Private or Public label may remain the same in the Network and Sharing Center, but when you manually select the sharing settings, the network applies the appropriate settings.
In Windows 7, the process is a bit different. You still have to click the network icon on your taskbar, but this time click Open Network & Sharing Center link.
Here, you will see an overview of your network connection. Below See your active networksyou will see the name of the Ethernet or WiFi network and it will have a link below it called Home network, Work network or Public network.
Click that link and you’ll be able to change between three different types of networks.
There is also an option in Windows 7 to automatically treat all future networks as public, although I don’t think most people will find that helpful.
Manually force a network location
As a last resort, if you cannot change the network location using the above methods, you can change the network location manually using a tool called secpol.msc. This will not work on Windows Home, Student or Starter editions. In Windows, press Windows key + R, this will show Run dialog box. Knock on secpol.msc into the run dialog.
Then click Network List Manager Policy on the left and right hand side you will see some items with description and then something called Network, is the current network you are connected to. It can also be called something else, but it has no description. If you are connected to a WiFi network, it will be the name of your WiFi network.
Double click it and click Network location navigation. Here you can manually change the network location from Private to Public and vice versa.
That’s about it! Not the easiest thing in the world, but it’s Microsoft! If you’re having trouble with changing network locations in Windows, post a comment here and we’ll help. Interesting!