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What are the Differences between Public & Private Network?

There are many reasons why you may have to change from a public network to a private one. Security and privacy are among the first thoughts that come to your mind when considering making the switch. Before you set out making this change, it is important to know about the applications of private networks and how it is different from their public counterpart.

Differences between Private & Public Networks

A public network, as the name indicates, is a type of network that allows anyone to connect to it. While the first thought that comes to your mind will be an open Wi-Fi network in a public place, the Internet itself is also considered a public network.

A private network is different in that it limits access to the network. Such networks are configured and created in homes, offices, and schools. Only the allowed systems and devices within the confines of the building are usually allowed access to this network.

There are even more differences between the two types of networks

  • Device addressing on the public network should be considered with more care
  • There is some flexibility with device addressing in private networks
  • When considering making a switch, it is important to realize that both these networks are not differentiated in terms of specific topology. They are different in terms of their usage. The main differences lie in terms of how the security and access rules are configured.

Private Network Applications

If you are considering switching to a private network, you should know about the different types of private network applications. Some of the common examples are as follows:

Office Network

It is essential to set up private networks in office or corporate settings. This is because you don’t want that your computer systems and devices to be viewed or accessed by anyone else. Such a network does allow internet connectivity but such a connection is also restricted.

Companies usually run advanced business applications or back-end services on such networks. Companies can have sensitive information such as financial data and cannot afford to connect to public networks.

Home Networks

Home networks are also commonly set up as private networks. These may be small networks like Wi-Fi networks. Such a network is commonly used for sharing resources like files.

Private networks are also used in critical infrastructure settings where highly sensitive data of national importance is used.

Discovery features are supported in a private network. So it is perfect for sharing not just files, but also peripherals like printers, scanners, and other devices. No such discovery features are enabled on a public network. When you use a public network, Windows 10 will disable these features on your system. So you should use a public network connection every time you are out and use a public Wi-Fi network. This can be when you are in a coffee shop, airport, library, or park.

Customizing Discovery Features for Public to Private Network

One way to switch between the networks is to make changes to the discovery features and firewall.

Discovery Settings

When it comes to making the switch from public to private network, you will find that Windows 10 has simplified things. All you may have to do for a simple switch is to choose whether the network will be ‘discoverable’ or not. This can be done easily from within Settings. Many more options allow you to configure the network to your preferences.

  • Click on the Start menu
  • Type ‘control panel’ and open it
  • Click and open Network & Internet
  • Click on View Network Status and Tasks
  • Click on the option that says Change advanced sharing settings

You will find the option to make changes to settings related to the following:

  • Network Discovery
  • Homegroup
  • File Sharing

It is interesting to note that it is possible to discovery can be enabled on public networks and disabled on private ones. However, it comes disabled by default in the public network setting.

Firewall Settings

If you want to make the switch, it will also be required to make configuration changes within Firewall. The Firewall in Windows 10 comes with settings for both types of networks. These changes can be made by using the following steps:

  • Open Control Panel, as mentioned above
  • Open the option ‘System & Security
  • Look for ‘Windows Firewall’ and open it

If you want to switch to a private network, it is required to disable the firewall. It is enabled by default in the public network. It is also possible to customize the firewall rules for specific applications or features. This can be done from within the option ‘Allow an app or feature through Windows Firewall’.

Changing the Network Type

It is recommended to follow these steps to change the network to private Windowsows 10:

  • The first step is to find out what type of network you have.
  • Click the Start menu
  • Look for the Settings gear and click it open
  • Click and open the option Network & Internet
  • You will see the network type, usually ‘public network’ mentioned below the current connection
  • The second step is to change the network location.
  • Once you have followed the above-mentioned steps, follow these steps:
  • Check the left pane and look for Wi-Fi or Ethernet depending on the type of connection you have
  • Click on the icon of the connection
  • Select the option ‘private’

Network discovery for this network will allow other devices or systems on this network to view your device. This is set by default but you can easily change it.

  • Open Network and Sharing Center
  • Go to Advanced Sharing Setting
  • Create a Homegroup
  • You can select whatever you want to share within this network.

So follow all these tips and steps to switch from public to private network. A private network allows you to set your own rules by making a lot of customization. However, it is recommended to limit the customization when it comes to allowing access to devices from outside your usual network. Windows 10 has made it easier than ever to make these changes. Almost anyone with basic skills can make these changes without any difficulty.

Written By

Sohel ather is software engineer by profession and a content writer by passion, Technical writings, blogging etc are stuff that he do as hobby. You can follow him at LinkedIn

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