A network location is what identifies the type of network—whether it be public or private—that is connected to a PC (provided it has a network adapter).
If all that sounds too confusing, don’t worry, Windows has simplified things for when you first set up your computer. It doesn’t try to get you to understand what a network location is—or even if your computer comes with a network adapter (which it likely does). Instead, it prompts you and asks you if you would like to “allow your PC to be discoverable by other PCs and devices on this network?”
This in itself is choosing the network location for you. If you decide to turn it on, then Windows prepares the computer for sharing files and devices over the network.
Windows automatically assigns a network discovery state and prepares the Windows Firewall and other security settings based on what option you choose for the network location. You can also change these network location settings at a later time if you change your mind or happen to fall upon different circumstances moving forward.
There are three different types of networks you can choose from. They are as follows:
Public Network. The Windows operating system automatically assigned a computer to the public network when a network is first connected. A public network is as public as it gets: there is nothing stopping your network from being shared with the world—with no protections between the local computer and any other computer. Just because the network is public doesn’t mean you should worry about security though: since it’s public, the Windows Firewall settings are extremely restrictive. When set to public the firewall automatically blocks the Play To, network discovery, file sharing, TVs, setup of network and printers, and any other device applications.
Private Network. The private network can be used around the home or for small office setups. Before selecting the private network you’ll want to trust the people who are connected to your home or office network as they will have access to the devices on the network.
Domain Network. If a local computer is detected as an active directory domain and can authenticate to a domain controller, it will detect the domain network location type.
This tutorial demonstrates how to set a network location to private or public when you’re using a version of the Windows 10 operating system.
Note: You need to be signed into Windows with an administrators account before you can the network location of a network adapter, regardless of which method you use in the guide below.
Method One: How to Change a Network Location in Settings app
1. Do steps 2 a. and 2 b. depending on how you would like to open the network settings.
2 a. Click on the WiFi icon from the notification tray in the taksbar and then click on the Network and Internet settings link.
Click on the WiFi link from the left side pane.
In the right side of the same window, click on the name of the Wi-Fi connection that you’re currently using.
2 b. Open the Settings application and then navigate through to the Network & Internet > Wi-Fi and then click on the Wi-Fi connection that is listed in the right side of the window.
3 a. If you want to set the network location to public, then select the Public checkbox.
3 b. if you want to set the network location to private, then select the Private checkbox.
You can close the Settings application when you’re done and the new network location will be saved.
Method Two: How to Change a Network Location in Registry Editor
1. Click in the Search box in the taskbar and type regedit and then click on the Registry Editor desktop application from under the Best match section.
2. Click on the Yes button if you’re prompted by User Account Control before you can proceed.
3. In the console tree of the snap-in, navigate to the following path using the keys: (click to enlarge image)
4. Double-click on each of the profiles until you see the one that has the name of your network in the right side of the window.
For example, I had to double-click on the profile starting with 4C5FFB24 before I could see the Telstra WiFi network in the right side pane, which is the name of my network. (click to enlarge screenshot below)
5. From the same window, double-click on the Category DWORD value to change it. (click to enlarge screenshot below)
6. Change the Value data to the number that you want. Changing it to 0 sets it to Public. Changing it to 1 sets it to Private. And changing it to 2 sets it to Domain. (click to enlarge screenshot below)
You can now close the Registry Editor and the new network location will be saved.
Method Three: How to Change a Network Location Local Security Policy
1. Open the Local Security Policy.
2. From the Local Security Policies left pane, click on the Network List Manager Policies and then double-click on the WiFi network name that you’re using in the right side pane.
3. Do steps 4 a. (not configured) 4 b. (Private) and 4 c. (Public) based on what you’re looking to do with the network location.
Note: If you have more than one network that you want to change the network location of, you can double-click on the All Networks in the right side pane instead and it’ll apply the change to every network the computer is familiar with. (click to enlarge screenshot below)
4 a. From the Wi-Fi network Properties dialog, click on the Network Location tab and then select the Not configured checkboxes under the Location type and User permissions headings.
4 b. From the Wi-Fi network Properties dialog, select the Network Location tab and then select the Private checkbox under Location type and the User cannot change location checkbox under the User permissions heading.
4 c. From the Wi-Fi network Properties dialog, select the Network Location tab and then select the Public checkbox under the Location type heading and the User account change location checkbox under the User permissions heading.
You can close the Local Security Policy window now and the network location changes will be saved.
Method Four: How to Change a Network Location in Windows PowerShell
1. Open the elevated Windows PowerShell window.
2. Do steps 3 a. (current location) 3 b. (Private) and 3 c. (Public) based on what you’re looking to do with the network location.
3 a. To see your current network location, type the following command and then press the Enter key on your keyboard. (click to enlarge screenshot below)
3 b. To set the network location to Private, type the following command and press the Enter key on your keyboard. (click to enlarge screenshot below)
Set-NetConnectionProfile -Name "TelstraA838D7-5G" -NetworkCategory Private
3 c. To set the network location to Public, type the following command and press the Enter key on your keyboard. (click to enlarge screenshot below)
Set-NetConnectionProfile -Name "TelstraA838D7-5G" -NetworkCategory Public
You can close the Windows PowerShell window and the network location changes will be saved.
Method Five: How to Change Network Location of Current Network Connection in Windows PowerShell
1. Open the elevated Windows PowerShell window.
2. Do step 3 a. and 3 b. depending on what you want to achieve with the network location.
3 a. To set the network location of the current network to private, type the following command. (click to enlarge screenshot below)
$net = get-netconnectionprofile;Set-NetConnectionProfile -Name $net.Name -NetworkCategory Private
3 b. To set the network location of the current network to public, type the following command. (click to enlarge screenshot below)
$net = get-netconnectionprofile;Set-NetConnectionProfile -Name $net.Name -NetworkCategory Public
December 5, 2019 @ 13:09
It seems like setting this to public would be a potential security risk, even if you wanted to allow people to connect to your network.
Hopefully in the future Microsoft comes up with a way to enable this without the security risk of the entire world trying to connect to your network.
On the contrary, if you disable this feature it would be similar to having another firewall operating for you no?
December 5, 2019 @ 13:02
I like the idea of network locations but I wish Microsoft would make it a bit less confusing.
If I’m understanding correctly, network locations means I can connect to a network in one location and then reconnect to that same network when I’m physically in a different location. Say if I were connected to a WORK network location, I could then reconnect to that WORK network when I’m not actually at work.
I get all that. But I don’t get how following these instructions allow me to connect to the work network. To me, these instructions are just potentially allowing me to connect to the network by making the network open enough to connect to.
So what is the next step to actually connecting to the network?
December 5, 2019 @ 13:03
What you’re saying is all correct.
The way you would connect to the work network is by asking your boss for the network details, which would be similar to the details you need to connect to your home WiFi network.
June 28, 2019 @ 09:12
What is the domain network?
December 5, 2019 @ 13:17
Normal users cannot use the domain network. The domain network is there for network administrators to use when they’re at work, usually for enterprise workplaces.
Windows is very popular for enterprise workers, and some of the features are shared to some extent, such as the one here. But generally speaking if you’re a network administrator you’ll be using an Enterprise edition of Windows 10 as well and not the Home version.