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How to Check Network Privacy in Windows 7

When you configure a peer-to-peer workgroup in Windows 7, you configure the workgroup to be either public or private. A public network requires more security. After all, the network is in the public. Who knows where those other people’s laptops have been?

A private network, however, is most likely the kind of network you have in your home or small office. The network isn’t (or shouldn’t be) visited by random folks driving by or stopping in for a quick download.

In Windows 7, you can check whether the network you’re using is public or private and then reset the network type for your computer. Follow these steps:

  1. Open the Control Panel.

  2. Choose View Network Status and Tasks from beneath the Network and Internet heading.

    Windows Vista is upfront about whether the network is public or private: Next to the Network heading in the middle of the window, you see the text Public Network or Private Network.

  3. Click the link by the Network icon.

    The link says Home Network, Work Network, or Public Network, which is your clue about the network’s security level.

  4. Choose the network type from the Set Network Location window and then click the Close button; you’re done.

    The most secure network is the public network (the bottom option). The least secure network is the home network, but it’s the one you should use for your home or small-office network.

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  5. Name your network or assign a new icon.

    This step is optional.

    Those settings are more for fun than for network security.

  6. Click the Next button.

  7. Type the administrator’s password or click the Continue button.

    Changing the network type is a security issue; you don’t want a random program or virus making the change for you.

  8. Click the Close button.

The changes you make don’t affect the entire network. After all, if you just joined a wireless network in a cybercafé, why would your computer be allowed to lord it over all other computers on the network? No, the public/private thing merely tells Windows how to treat the network.

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