Stump the PC Club is a free tech-advice column written by members of the North Orange County Computer Club, which has been in existence since 1976. Visit the club’s site at noccc.org.
QUESTION: We have 2 Windows 7 PCs in our home and would like to share files between them. What are Homegroups and can they help us?
PC CLUB: Homegroups can make it very easy for home users who have a network to share files and folders, however, all users must be running Windows 7. Your first step is to have a home network which requires a router and very little else. If you do not already have a home network see the article at http://bit.ly/setupnetwork.
Your second step should be to open the Control Panel and go to Network and Sharing. Make sure that the Active Network is set to Home. If it says Work or Public, click it and select Home. Do the same on all PCs. When you setup a new PC you will be normally be asked to set up a Homegroup. Make sure you select Home rather than Work or Public. Next, you will be asked to write down a crazy password. You needn’t write it down since you can easily change it to something sensible as described below.
To configure your Homegroup, open the Control Panel and enter Home into the search box on the right and select Homegroup. Here you can view your password or change it. You can also choose the items to share. Documents is usually unchecked by default but you can check it here.
Once you have a Homegroup set up on more than one PC, when you boot up the second PC, you will be asked to join the Homegroup. Enter the password and now you have joined. Remember, a Homegroup will only be available when multiple PCs are running. If one PC is off or goes into Sleep or Hibernate mode, the Homegroup on that PC will be unavailable.
You can now click Start, Computer and see the Homegroup shown in the Navigation pane on the left. If you don’t see the Navigation Pane click Organize, Layout, Navigation pane. On the left, in the Navigation pane, you will see other PCs that are part of the Homegroup. From here you can access their files or drop and drag any file here to share with other Homegroup members. If you want to grant them permission to edit or delete the file, select it and click “Share with” at the top and select Homegroup (Read/Write).
You can add additional folders to the Homegroup for sharing by right‑clicking any folder and choosing “Include in library”.
If you have PCs running different versions of Windows see the article at http://bit.ly/XPW7share.
Ed Schwartz is a member of the North Orange County Computer Club. To send in a question, go to edwardns.com and click the Contact Me menu. Archives of previous columns are also on the website.