I previously wrote an article on how to install and configure a Windows Homegroup. It’s a fairly straightforward process and most people will have no problem getting it to work. However, as with any complex Windows feature, things can go wrong!
One of the main problems is that people just can’t join a Windows computer to a homegroup! Homegroups are different from workgroups because they are supposed to make networking between Windows 7/8/10 computers easier. Workgroups are what you needed to use to communicate between Vista and XP computers, although you can also join an XP computer to a homegroup
In this article, I will try to cover in detail all the reasons why you cannot access your homegroup. If your problem is not resolved below, please leave a comment and I will try to help you.
Run the troubleshooter
Before you do anything else, it’s best to try the built-in Windows homegroup troubleshooter. Just click Start, type Troubleshoot, and select Homegroup. In Windows 7, click View All to see a list of all the troubleshooters.
It will automatically check all the settings required for the homegroup to work properly and let you know if there is a problem or not. He can usually try to fix any potential problems as well.
IPv6 must be enabled
To use the new Windows 7/8/10 Homegroup feature, you must make sure IPv6 is enabled. You can check if IPv6 is enabled on your computer by clicking Start and typing View Network Status in the search box. This will open the Network and Sharing Center.
Then click Change Adapter Settings on the left side of the dialog:
Finally, right-click your network connection and select Properties. Here you should see Internet Protocol Version 6 (TCP / IPv6) and Version 4 (TCP / IPv4) listed, and both should be checked.
Note that sometimes the registry setting is not updated even if you enable IPv6 through the GUI. So you can check the setting in the registry by going to the following section:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE SYSTEM CurrentControlSet Services Tcpip6 Parameters
In the right pane, right click on DisabledComponents and select Modify. Make sure to set the value to 0. If set to any other value, such as FF, IPv6 has been disabled.
Connected to the same network
While this may seem obvious, you need to make sure the computer is connected to the same network as the HomeGroup. Only computers on the same subnet will be able to connect to the homegroup, so if you have a wireless router, these will only be computers connected to that router.
You can check if your computers are on the same network by going to the command line and typing IPCONFIG. The first 3 parts of the IP address must be the same, i.e. 192.168.0.x or 10.0.1.x.
The homegroup password
Make sure the homegroup password hasn’t changed. You can check the homegroup password on another computer and then use it to join the homegroup.
You can find out the HomeGroup password by going to Control Panel and opening HomeGroup. Then click View or Print Homegroup Password.
If necessary, change the homegroup password on the computer that you are trying to connect to the homegroup.
Make sure all third-party firewalls are disabled, like Comodo, etc. Sometimes antivirus programs are also bundled with firewalls like Norton, McAfee Security, and Kaspersky. These programs can block connections and prevent you from connecting to your homegroup.
You also need to make sure file and printer sharing is enabled and allowed through your firewall. Click on “Start” and type “Share”. Then click on “Manage Advanced Sharing Settings”.
Under “Private Profile Only”, be sure to select “Enable File and Printer Sharing.” This should automatically add a rule to Windows Firewall also for the private profile. Also, you want to enable additional settings here, which I mention below.
Turn on network discovery
Make sure network discovery is enabled on your Windows 7/8/10 PC. You can do this by going to Control Panel, then to Network and Sharing Center and clicking Change advanced sharing settings in the left pane.
Make sure the Enable network discovery check box is selected. It should be enabled by default, but if someone changes your settings, that could cause a problem as well.
Go to each computer and make sure all clocks are showing the correct time. If the clock is not synchronized, the homegroup function will not work. If your computer is connected to the Internet, it should automatically show the correct time.
The only case that this will not happen is if you are in a domain, then the clock must be in sync with the domain controller. If not, you may need to check your time server settings.
Windows 7/8/10 services
For the HomeGroup networking feature to work, certain Windows services must be enabled and started. If you used a program to disable services or manually disabled them, this could be the cause of the problem.
The services to be enabled are listed below:
- DNS Client
- Function Discovery Provider Host
- Function Discovery Resource Publishing
- Peer-to-Peer Networking
- HomeGroup Provider
- HomeGroup Listener
- SSDP Discovery
- UPnP Device Host
You can enable services by clicking the Start button and entering “services” and then clicking the “Services” button.
In the Services dialog box, double-click the service and make sure the Startup type is set to Automatic, and then click the Start button to enable the service.
Set the network location on the home page
Another reason why you can’t access your homegroup is because it only works on home networks where you trust all computers. If for some reason you chose Work, Public, or Domain, Homegroups will not work.
You can check this by going to the Network and Sharing Center and looking under the “Network” section. If it does not have a Home network selected for it, you can change it by clicking the link and choosing a new network location.
The router supports IPv6
This is no longer a problem, but just to cover all the basics, you need to make sure your router can support IPv6. Otherwise, Windows 7/8/10 will not be able to communicate with other computers using HomeGroup. Any relatively new router will support it, so unless you have a really old router you should be fine.
If you’ve tried all of this but still can’t connect to your homegroup, please leave a comment and I’ll see if I can help. Enjoy!