How to Configure your Network Location in Windows 7

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How to Configure your Network Location in Windows 7

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Added by August 1, 2016

In this video, Windows Server instructor Rick Trader demonstrated how to configure your network locations by using Windows 7.

Rick also presented how to establish and configure network locations in Windows 10. You can watch this video on our Webinars Training website. How to Configure a Network Location in Windows 10.

In a previous blog, Rick wrote about how the Windows Firewall Profiles and how the firewall profiles are controlled through your Network Location Services.

In this video, Rick will show how to configure the Network Location Service in a Windows 7.

Video Transcription:

In a previous video, I demonstrated the Windows firewall profiles. Whether you’re talking about the standard Windows profile, or you’re talking about a Windows firewall command security settings, we have three profiles. There’s a domain based profile, a private profile, and a public profile.

In that video, we talked about the network location service controlling which profile gets chosen. In this video, I would like to show you how to control network location in Windows 7 so that you’ll be able to control which firewall profile is being used for your computer.

            For instructor-led Windows training, see our course schedule.

If I bring up my network and sharing center on my Windows 7 computer, here, you’ll notice that my computer’s in a domain network. That’s what the network location service has chosen for this machine. The question is, why did it choose that?

This computer is a member of a domain called USSHQ.local. It’s currently located in a network segment where the domain controller for USSHQ.local is currently present. As a result, the network location service chose the domain network, and in essence, it is going to force us to use our domain firewall profile.

What does that allow us to do? It allows us to be less stringent on the rules for the unsolicited communications that this computer’s going to be receiving. What I do want to point out is, even though I’m in a domain‑based network, if I bring up my Windows Explorer, and I bring up my network, notice I can’t see any other computers on my network.

Windows, by default, does not turn on the network discovery service, or the file share service, even for a computer that’s in the corporate network, so you have to turn that on. Once you turn that on, you’ll be able to discover other computers in your corporate network, which means you’ll be able to browse. Other computers will be able to browse you, also.

Let me close that. Let me simulate putting this computer into a different network segment where there’s not a domain controller. In Hyper‑V, I have another network here, I just called it external. When this computer connects to the external network, notice it’s automatically going to choose a public network.

The reason why it chose the public network is, I’d already been messing around with this computer before, and that’s the setting I left it in. What is a public network? A public network means you’re connecting this computer to a network, maybe, at a free WiFi at the airport, or free WiFi at a coffee shop. You may be at a conference, and you’re connecting your computer to the WiFi at the conference, you would want to choose public.

We’ll talk about private in a few minutes, and I’ll talk about what we want to connect that. Notice that when I’m in the public network, if I bring up my Windows Explorer, and I come down to the network, even though I’ve chosen to be in a public network, it still allows me to put myself in an unsafe situation by turning on network discovery and file sharing, so I can browse that wide open network, which also means I can also be browsed.

Let me show you how I would change this. In Windows 7, when I first connect the computer to a network, and it’s never been connected before, this box pops up from the network location service. It’s going to ask me, am I in a home network, am I in a work network, or am I in a public network?

If I choose either one of these, both of these are going to put me into a private network. The assumption is, I’m connecting to a network that has some type of protection between the computer and the Internet. I’m not a direct connect to the Internet.

There’s a firewall of some sort, there could be a proxy server of some sort, a network address translation device. There’s something between me and that firewall, in that environment. This is what puts us into a private profile. If I come in here, what’s a little bit confusing is, if I choose a home network, and then I go ahead and hit cancel, because what it’s trying to do now is set up a home group, notice it put me into this home network.

This home network, from the firewall perspective, is a private network. If I change my home network to a work network, again, it’s assuming that I’m behind some type of protection. I might be at a training center like here at Interface, where we have devices that protect you from the Internet. You would choose a work network.

You may go into a small branch office your company may have that doesn’t have a domain controller at, you could choose a work network. Again, this in essence, is going to choose our private profile in the firewall, so I can be less stringent than the public, but more stringent than the domain base.

That’s how simple it is to change your network location service, which in turn changes what network profile we’re in for the firewall. To see how this is done in Windows 8 and how it’s done in Windows 10, at the bottom of the transcript will be links to a similar video to this.

There’s also a link at the bottom down there that discusses the blog on what the Windows firewall profiles are, and how they control them, and how to actually set them in the tools. As always, ride safe.

Rick Trader
Windows Server Instructor – Interface Technical Training
Phoenix, AZ

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