The Network and Sharing Center (Click Start Button, Control Panel, Network and Internet, Network and Sharing Center) is the area in Vista that allows users to configure how and what the computer connects to and what is and is not shared. The menu shows several things: the current computer’s network setup, the sharing and discovery feature status and tasks that can be accomplished.
Tasks (for the Network)
With Windows you can do the following:
- View Computers and Devices – currently on the network
- Connect to a Network – disconnect or connect to another network
- Manage Wireless Networks – how and in what order Windows tries to connect to a network
- Set Up a Connection or Network – using a Windows wizard to walk you through the set up process
- Manage Network Connections – a view of all current network connections and their status
- Diagnose and Repair (network connections) – a tool that scans the network, looks for problems and offer suggestions for repairing a connection.
Sharing and Discovery
This part of the center allows users to turn on and off specific sharing features. These include:
- Network Discovery - whether your computer can see other computers and devices on the network and if other computers can see your PC.
- File Sharing – to enable or disable all file sharing
- Public Folder Sharing – to enable or disable specific types of public file sharing (using the Public Folder)
- Printer Sharing – to turn on and off sharing of local printers connected to this computer
- Password Protected Sharing – to turn on and off password protected sharing of files, printers and the Public Folder
- Media Sharing – to turn on and off access to media files (music, pictures, videos) on this computer by other people on the network
Options for File and Print Sharing
Share a specific folder: To set up file and printer sharing for your Vista computer, read the step by step process titled "How to Setup Sharing Files and Printers on a Vista Computer."
Share the Public Folder: If you are interesting in sharing files only once in a while, you can use the Public Folder - setting this up is even quicker than this process.