How to Fix: Change Network from Public to Private in Windows 10

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader Tim C. writes:

" Dear Dennis,

I recently upgraded to Windows 10 and have a rather perplexing issue. A few days ago I opened my laptop and Windows 10 presented me with a window, asking me if I was using a public or private network. I clicked the public network button, not thinking much of it - however, ever since then I cannot connect to my laptop using Remote Desktop (from the PC), nor can I use TightVNC, which is an alternative to Remote Desktop. Also, when I launch some programs (for example, Kodi to play movies), the Windows firewall tells me that the program I just launched is trying to access my network and it asks me if I should allow the connection. Long story short, I believe I have selected 'public' network when I should have chosen 'private' network as my default. The problem is that I cannot figure out how to change back from public to private network in Windows 10. Can you help? "

My response:

I've had this exact same problem on multiple Windows 10 PCs and laptops in my home. For some reason, my network location settings changed without asking me - even on my desktop PCs. After that happened, I had the exact same problems as you described. What tipped me off is that my Remote Desktop stopped working, and when I disabled the Windows Firewall, it would work again. Eventually I figured out that my network location somehow got switched from private to public.

Changing from Public to Private Network Using Windows 7

In Windows 7, you can right click the network icon (next to the clock), then the Network and Sharing Center will appear. On the proceeding page it will list your networks under "View your active networks", and tell you whether your network is Home (Private), Work, or Public. In Windows 7, the Home (Private), Work, or Public network has a clickable link that will let you change it (click that link to see a picture) - but in Windows 10, that blue link is not there anymore.

Changing from Public to Private Network Using Windows 10

Changing the network location (from public to private) in Windows 10 means you need to jump through hoops and the instructions vary depending if it's a wired or wireless connection. That said, I have found an easier way to do it using somewhat of a "trick" - and it works for both wired or wireless networks. Here are the steps:

  1. First we need to figure out if the problem PC is using a public or private network. You will also want to correlate this information with other machines on your network using the same steps and ensure everyone is using a private network, otherwise access will be restricted. To get started, right click the network icon in your tray bar next to the clock and choose "Open Network and Sharing Options". Hint: the network icon looks somewhat like an LCD monitor in the tray bar.
  2. The Network and Sharing Options page should appear. Now it's time to determine if your network which is connected to the Internet is set for "public" or "private". To do so: look on the left of the screen under the heading "View your active networks" - here it will provide names of networks connected to your PC. The network you are interested in will be the one that says it has an Internet connection (assuming you have Internet access). You can determine this by looking to the right of the screen next to the heading "Access type" - it should say "Internet". Click here for an example.
  3. Once you have found the network with Internet access, you will want to take note of the network location (public or private); it will be listed directly underneath the network name on the left of the screen. For example, you might see something like "Network 2" and underneath that "Public Network", and to the right of that "Access type: Internet".
  4. To change from public to private network, click Start and type in "homegroup" (no quotes). Click the HomeGroup icon when it appears in the list. On the proceeding page it will give you an error, stating that "This computer can't connect to a homegroup. To create or join a homegroup, your computer's network location must be set to private." Underneath that will be a blue link that says "Change network location" - click that link.
  5. A window will appear on the right of the screen and it will say: "Do you want to find PCs, devices, and content on this network and automatically connect to devices like printers and TVs? We recommend that you do this on your home and work networks." Click the Yes option.
  6. A new window will appear asking you 'Share with other computers' on the network. You can safely ignore this page by clicking on the Close button. Your computer should now be connected to the private network; you can validate that by revisiting Steps #1 and #2 above.

That's it!

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About the author: Dennis Faas is the owner and operator of With over 30 years of computing experience, Dennis' areas of expertise are a broad range and include PC hardware, Microsoft Windows, Linux, network administration, and virtualization. Dennis holds a Bachelors degree in Computer Science (1999) and has authored 6 books on the topics of MS Windows and PC Security. If you like the advice you received on this page, please up-vote / Like this page and share it with friends. For technical support inquiries, Dennis can be reached via Live chat online this site using the Zopim Chat service (currently located at the bottom left of the screen); optionally, you can contact Dennis through the website contact form.

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kakero2's picture

thanks alot for guide,
but for home , which one is safe? private or public?

Dennis Faas's picture

Home network settings should be "private". Anything outside of the home which is not on a secured network would be "public". A "work" network is of course used in a work environment.

kakero2's picture

thanks for answer ,
if i put network setting to "public" in home for more secure network , is it good?

Dennis Faas's picture

The network setting for "home" and "public" and "work" have little to do with security. The only thing that is going to keep you "more secure" is to: use an operating system that is actively supported by the manufacturer (I.E: don't use Windows XP or Vista), use a firewall and configure the firewall appropriately, download and install updates for your operating system regularly, use antivirus with real time protection, keep that antivirus up to date, and scan for malware using a third party program once a month. Also, don't download email attachments and/or click on links to install programs with little or no reputation. That pretty much sums it up.

kakero2's picture

thank you for great security guide

Juned Abdulla's picture

I have similar issue as the topic says.
1) Laptop PC's in out work have recently started registering itself as Private or Public network. Initialy i was clueless even to solve this issue, But then i found a work around and started deleting network profile from Registry(Which is a temporary solution). then i disable and re-enable network adaptor to detect it as a domain network, some time i need to change category to 2. It is giving me a very bad impression in my work place. Need kind support Inorder to resolve this issue ASAP>
Thanx in advance.

sasterling96_9509's picture

I followed along step by step but I ran into a snag at number 4. My options on the homegroup page are "change advanced sharing settings" and "start the homegroup troubleshooter." Neither of these options allow me to follow the rest of the guide, and therefore I have no idea how to change it from public to private which I am in dire need of doing for my job so I can have remote access.

Dennis Faas's picture

Try deleting the network adapter via Device Manager. This should reset it.

tjlatto_10745's picture

If I change from Public to Private, will it effect the other users that I share a wifi connection with?
I'm using the same wifi connection as the people that I am renting space from and I don't want to mess up their connection. But I would like to set up my own separate homegroup of two computers.
Any problems with this?

Dennis Faas's picture

The public vs private network setting is specific to your operating system. It only affects how your operating system works, so it won't affect others on the same network UNLESS you are trying to share files (for example) with other users on the same network.

The whole point of public vs private has to do with pre-configured firewall settings which are automatically applied depending on whether your network has been set as public or private.

Let's look at an example. If you are using a public network (free wifi at a restaurant) you wouldn't want file sharing turned on so that other users on the same network can access your shared resources. The opposite would be true if you're using a private work network. Hence, if the setting is not set properly, it will have an impact especially if you're sharing resources (files).