Differences between public or private network in Windows 10

We all know how to differentiate, broadly speaking , what is a public network or a private network. For example, we consider that of a house private but we consider that of a bar or a train station public. But beyond this, Windows acts differently in the case of a private network or a public network and that is why it is convenient to know the differences or know how to activate each of them.

When connecting to a WiFi network or a network with an Ethernet cable from your computer, not only must you enter the password and start browsing, but it is advisable that you know how to differentiate between public and private networks in Windows 10 since there are changes between the two at the time to show your team to others. It is essential to maintain security when we connect to the Internet.

What is a private network

When we connect to a network, Windows asks us. You choose whether it is a public or private network. It does not do it simply out of “curiosity” but to configure it in one way or another and thus improve privacy.

Setting up the private network in Windows 10 is intended for when you have control of that network and the devices that connect to it. For example, trusted networks such as your own home or the one you have in the company if it is a small company. You know who connects to it or you have control of the devices there are. For this reason, the private network allows us advantages such as sending content to the printer from our computer.

Generally, if we use a private network, Windows 10 allows all the devices connected to the network to connect , since it implies that it is a trusted network and that it is useful for you to share with others through the local network. For example, if you have several computers connected at home, it is assumed that they are all reliable.

What is a public network

As we have explained in the previous paragraphs, the private network allows us to see other devices on the local network to facilitate the connection between them. Our computer is visible to other connected devices because it is assumed that all those on this network are reliable. But it is not the same if you are going to connect to a public WiFI network in a hotel to work, in an airport if you are going to watch Netflix while you wait with your laptop, in a press conference in a massive event … In those cases that you need Internet, you must choose that the network you connect to is public.

If you connect in a hotel or an airport to a network, not all computers or connected devices are reliable . Or, at least, we do not know or know the people who are connected, so it is convenient to keep hidden to avoid malware or possible attacks. For this reason, Windows 10 isolates our computer from others so that they cannot access it through the local network. We can connect to the Internet but other computers cannot connect to ours. When choosing password and network, we can mark that it is a public network and thus it will hide us.

They do not necessarily have to be massive networks for you to mark it as public when connecting. If, for example, you are connected to your company network with your computer or laptop and you don’t want to be visible or create a group at home, you can mark it public to appear as hidden.

Risks of public networks

Although Windows 10 “protects” you from public networks when you connect a computer, it does not mean that they are secure. You can improve security when you connect in a hotel or airport using a VPN (free or paid) but there are a series of tips that you should follow, normally, avoiding public WiFi networks to connect to your bank, to pay for Internet, to send confidential files… Setting up Windows 10 for public networks doesn’t exempt you from the dangers. Or not in its entirety. Therefore, it is advisable that you use a VPN network or that you avoid, as far as possible, connecting to this type of public WiFi in large stations or airports where they can be used to introduce malware, etc.

Change sharing options

Beyond having public or private networks, you can change the sharing options from the settings of your Windows 10 computer. Even if you are connected in a private profile, you can also choose whether you want file sharing to be enabled or disabled or printers and is not always set by default. Or you can choose whether or not you want it to be a recognizable team. To do this, you will have to go to the Windows settings.

  • Go to Windows Settings settings
  • Choose the Network and Internet option in the menu
  • Go to Change network settings
  • Choose Sharing Options
  • In the pop-up window, change the different settings
    • This computer can see other computers and devices on the network and is visible to other computers on the network. Activate or desactivate.
    • When file and printer sharing is enabled , network users will be able to access shared files and printers on this computer. Activate or desactivate.

You can enable it for the private profile, for the guest or public or for all networks. You can configure specifically for each type of profile.

Go from a public to a private network

When we connect to a network, Windows asks us. But when we have already connected and configured that network, it does not do it again. That is, imagine that you have connected to a network that was private and has now become public for whatever reason. For example, in your work. In that case, the second or third time you connect, it will not ask you and will assume that it is still private. This can pose a risk to your security but you can switch from public to private at any time in Windows 10.

Go to the Windows 10 Settings screen and go to the Network and Internet section and from here open the WiFi section that you will find in the left menu of the screen. From here you can see if the WiFi is activated or deactivated but you can also manage the network options you have.

Once inside WiFi, tap on your network to see the options . Here you will see the network profile and two possibilities. Public or Private. You can change it as many times as you want or when you need, it is not a definitive configuration.

  • Public. The computer will be hidden from other devices on the network and cannot be used for file or printer sharing.
  • Private: for a trusted network, such as your home or work. The computer is set to discoverable and can be used for file and printer sharing if you configure it.

Choose the option you want and it will be automatically configured. If you want to change it again, just do the previous steps again in case you want to go from public to private or vice versa.


by Abdullah Sam
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