What is a Network Workgroup? - dummies

By Dan Gookin

When your PC joins a peer-to-peer network, it becomes part of a workgroup. The workgroup is simply a group of computers using the same Ethernet network. There has to be a hub, which can be merely a switch or a router. The computers don’t necessarily need to be connected to the Internet — just to each other.

The workgroup can be the entire network — all the computers, connected. That’s the most common setup for home or small office networks.


The key to creating a workgroup is simply to assign computers on the network the same workgroup name. So, all computers are configured to use the workgroup FRIENDS simply because that’s the workgroup name set by each computer. Half the computers are in the GALS workgroup; the rest are in the GUYS workgroup.


There’s no reason to split up a small network into workgroups. In fact, it is preferable that all computers on your network use the same workgroup name because it makes accessing the computers easier, especially in Windows XP. There’s no advantage to having separate workgroups; no security is provided. Multiple workgroups are simply an option for classifying computers on a larger network.

  • The workgroup name is a software thing. Setting a workgroup name has no effect on the network hardware; for example, the router couldn’t care less about the workgroup name.

  • The workgroup name has no effect on a network IP address.

  • The workgroup still exists in Windows 7, but is shoved aside in favor of the HomeGroup concept.

  • Other, non-peer-to-peer networks may have other hierarchies, or forms of organization, other than a workgroup, or they may feature a concept similar to the workgroup.