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Network Location in Vista and Win7; Public is Private and Private is Public?
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Network Location in Vista and Win7; Public is Private and Private is Public?

by Jason GreenJanuary 7, 2010

How to get the Windows 7 firewall settings correct.
The biggest problem I’ve been seeing is people mistaking “Public” for meaning, Make my computer Public, and “Private” for Make my computer private, when It’s actually quite the opposite. So I’m going to hopefully help dispel some of that confusion right here, right now.

The Network location feature is really just firewall profiles, based on if you trust (Private) or don’t trust (Public) the computers around you. There are 2 Network Location Types that we will discuss here: Public and Private.

Should I chose the Private or Public Network Location?

Private Network Location In your own network, behind your router or firewall and the only computers on your network are your own, then you would trust these other PCs, so you should set Network Location to Private, thus allowing your PC to be discovered and for its resources to be accessed by your other PCs on your network.

Public Network Location If you were  away from home,like at a random WiFi hotspot, seedy hotel,on your neighbors wireless router, etc,  you would not and should not trust the other PCs on this network so you should set your Network location to Public. This will make your PC/Laptop fairly secure on the network, and less likely to be discovered or exploited.

For each new/separate network you connect to Windows ask you each time if you would like to set the network location to either Public or Private.


How to change the Network Location setting once it has been set:

Goto the Network and Sharing Center and click on Customize for each adapter you wish to change.

You can find the Network and Sharing Center either through the Start Button Menu – > Network – > Network and Sharing Center OR by clicking on the Network Icon by the Clock in the tray, and Choosing Network and Sharing Center.


About The Author
Jason Green
The writer and owner of Green Complex, Jason is an A+ Certified for Computer Hardware egghead and Eagle Scout since 1999 but has been building computers and programming for much longer. An enthusiast to say the least, his hobbies also include photography, video games, and reading. See his proficiencies on Smarterer.

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