I’ve been using Windows 7 since April 2009 when it was available as a public beta. I am currently using the release candidate (build 7100). For the most part I have not encountered many issues; most of my programs runs perfectly and the improved features in Windows 7 are fantastic! However, I have had some issues with the Homegroups feature. Hopefully these issues will be fixed in the final release version, but for those of you like me who can’t pass up a free OS for a few months, read on for a few tips.
Homegroups – The Basics
Homegroups are a new feature in Windows 7 that allow users to easily share files, folders, and libraries over a home network (libraries are a new feature in Windows 7 as well). The idea is that one computer on your home network creates a homegroup, then all of the other computers join the homegroup to share files more easily.
Homegroups have several requirements that many users may not be aware of. I have listed the requirements that I am aware of below.
- Only Windows 7 computers can join or create homegroups
- Homegroups can only be created on Home networks; Work and Public networks can not have homegroups
- Homegroups require IPv6 to be enabled
- Network discovery and file and printer sharing must be on
If any of the above requirements are not met, homegroups will not work.
Setting Up a Homegroup
I won’t go into detail as there are many articles online that explain how to set up a homegroup. I would recommend checking out the following articles:
Checking for Problems
When homegroups stop working, there are a few things you can check to make sure everything is in order. First, run the homegroup troubleshooter on every homegroup computer. Restart all of the computers and run the troubleshooter again.
Make sure network discovery and file sharing are enabled on the home network.
If that doesn’t work, go to Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Services and make sure the Homegroup Listener and Homegroup Provider services are running. Also make sure the Peer Networking Grouping service is running. To start the services, select them and then click the play button in the toolbar at the top of the window.
Creating a new Homegroup
If none of the steps above fix the problem, you may need to create an entirely new homegroup. This process is not as intuitive as you might think, and it requires a lot of restarting.
First, leave the homegroup on all of the computers (Control Panel > Homegroup > Leave the homegroup…). Then restart all of the computers. Next, create a new homegroup on one of the computers and wait several minutes for it to finish sharing files and libraries. Once again restart all of the computers. Your other computers should now detect the homegroup and be able to join it.