These days most people have home networks with WiFi. But, not everyone is taking advantage of all the capabilities of the network.

The first thing you need to do is make sure your WiFi is secure. If you haven’t already set up a password for your WiFi, DO IT NOW! The next thing to verify is what type of security your router (WiFi) is using. You should be using WPA2 (preferably) or WPA. DO NOT USE WEP.

Now that we have that out of the way, I will be talking about Windows 7. Windows 8 will be very similar with some minor differences. If you are still using Windows XP, you should seriously consider upgrading and you should not do any kind of online banking with a Windows XP machine.

When you first connect a Windows 7 machine to a network it will ask you what type of network it is: Home, Work or Public. At home you should select Home. This allows Windows to set up sharing rules. If you already have a Windows 7 machine on your network and have already selected Home it will ask you to join that Home Network. In the machine that originally  set up the home network, you will need to retrieve a password. To access that password go to Control Panel. If you don’t know how to get to the control panel type “control panel” in the search box on your start menu. Next, in the top right, click the drop down arrow next to Category and select large or small icons whichever you prefer. Now, click Network and Sharing Center. ON the left side, click HomeGroup. Now click view or print the homegroup password. You will need to use this password to add any Windows 7 (or 8) machines to your home network. After that a box will come up asking you which type of files you want to share. Check all the boxes (or uncheck) for the type of files you want to share. Once you do this on all of the machines in your house, you Home Network is set up.

If you have built the Media PC that I describe Here. You can use it as a server. Go to that machine and click on the start menu, then click on computer. This will show you all of the drives that are connected to your system. Double click on the C drive. Left click in any of the blank area and highlight “New.” In the menu that pops up, click Folder. Name that whatever you want. For now I will call it pictures. after the file is created, right click on the file and highlight “Share With.” Then click Homegroup (read/write). This will make that folder visible to any computer on your home network. Now go to the machine that you want to access this folder from.

On this machine go to you start menu and select computer again. on the left side there should be a tree showing all of the files, folders and locations you can view. Scroll down until you see “Network.” In that list look for the that you gave to your home server. Mine is called Media-PC. Double click that and the left side of the window should show any shared resources on that network server. In there you should see the folder you shared. Right click on the folder and select “Map Network Drive.”  It will then ask you what drive letter you want to use. Select one and verify that Reconnect at logon is checked. Now this folder will show up every time you open your Computer icon. This is where I like to save all of my pictures. I also have a folder for Documents.

Now that you have your home network set up, learn how to back up your important and irreplaceable data.

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