How to Replace the Windows HomeGroup
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With each new version of Windows 10, Microsoft removes or deprecates some features Deprecated vs. Removed: What's the Difference? Deprecated vs. Removed: What's the Difference? You might get scared when you see that your favorite software is facing deprecation. But deprecating is not the same as removing. Here's the difference. Read More . In the Fall Creators Update, Paint and Syskey were on the chopping block 5 Windows 10 Features You Should Stop Using Soon 5 Windows 10 Features You Should Stop Using Soon Microsoft is cleaning up! Many Windows features will be removed or deprecated. See which key features you should replace before your next Windows upgrade. Read More . With the next major update to Windows 10, coming in spring 2018, you’ll no longer have access to the HomeGroup Service.

Read on to find out what this feature did, why it’s disappearing, and how you can replace it.

What Is HomeGroup?

The Windows HomeGroup allows you to join devices on your network and share files and devices between them Home Network Tip: How to Share Files & Folders Between Windows User Accounts Home Network Tip: How to Share Files & Folders Between Windows User Accounts Sometimes computer can be physically very close together, but seem miles apart when you try transfer a file. Use this guide to help you fling files from PC to PC with the greatest of ease. Read More . You can open it by searching for HomeGroup in the Start Menu.

In a HomeGroup, you can select which folders you’d like to share with other computers that join the group. Your Pictures, Videos, Music, and Printers & Devices are all shared by default, with your Documents not shared. In addition, you can also enable devices on your home network, like smart TVs and game consoles, to access content shared from your PC How to Build a Great Media Center PC How to Build a Great Media Center PC Looking for a media center? read all about the different hardware components, best places to buy them, software candidates and media extenders, in this ultimate guide! Read More .

how to replace windows homegroup

When you create a HomeGroup, Windows provides you with a password. To add a new computer to the group, you need to enter this password. Once you add additional PCs, they can access any of the content in your shared folders.

This lets you share files with your family without having to copy and paste them onto multiple machines. Plus, sharing devices and printers means that installing drivers for new devices How to Find & Replace Outdated Windows Drivers How to Find & Replace Outdated Windows Drivers Your drivers might be outdated and need updating, but how are you to know? First, don't fix it if it ain't broke! If drivers do need updating, though, here are your options. Read More is straightforward. Note that you can only have one HomeGroup per network.

HomeGroup’s Origins: Simple File Sharing

The HomeGroup feature launched in 2009 with the release of Windows 7. But it has origins from way back 4 Archaic Functions Windows 10 Still Supports 4 Archaic Functions Windows 10 Still Supports Windows 10 might have cut a lot of features, but there are several ancient functions still hiding in the operating system. Here are four you might not expect Windows to still support. Read More in 2001, with Windows XP.

Windows XP included a feature called Simple File Sharing. This allowed you to right-click any folder and choose to share it with others on your network, optionally providing them access to change files in it too.

Microsoft’s help page on Simple File Sharing makes it sound pretty complicated, but it wasn’t. You could share any folder you liked, and the checkboxes let you control who could see it.

how to replace windows homegroup

There was one huge problem with it, though.

When you shared a folder on the network, doing so shared it with everyone. That included unauthorized users who connected to your network without you knowing How to Secure Your Wi-Fi and Stop Neighbors Stealing It How to Secure Your Wi-Fi and Stop Neighbors Stealing It If your Wi-Fi SSID is being broadcast to the surrounding houses, there is a chance your internet is being stolen. Find out how to stop this from happening and keep control of your bandwidth. Read More . They would simply authenticate with the shared folder as a “guest” — and if you gave permission for network users to change files, they could do whatever they wanted with it.

Clearly, this was an insecure system. In fact, you could even share the root of your Windows drive, giving anyone on your network access to any file on your system!

Simple File Sharing Grows Into HomeGroup

Windows Vista, surprisingly, didn’t make file sharing even worse The Most Hated Windows Versions & Why They Were So Bad The Most Hated Windows Versions & Why They Were So Bad The rule of thumb is that every other version of Windows is awesome. But why have the "bad" versions of Windows — ME, Vista, and 8 — been so hated? Read More . It provided more controls so you could actually decide who had access to what folders. In 2009, Windows 7 saw the first implementation of HomeGroup proper.

Microsoft created HomeGroup so that novice users had an easy way to share folders across their network. The modern NTFS file system that Windows uses has its own sharing and permission controls, but it’s not user-friendly for beginners. In fact, they often cause problems when users unexpectedly see Access Denied messages.

Instead of messing with all that, a HomeGroup makes it relatively simple to share folders across your network 5 Ways to Transfer Files From One Computer to Another 5 Ways to Transfer Files From One Computer to Another When you buy a new computer, you'll want to transfer files from your old PC. We'll show you how to do that quickly and easily, either using hardware, software, or your internet. Read More . It only takes a few minute to set up, and it doesn’t contain a lot of confusing permissions options. Using a password fixes the Simple File Sharing issue so that only authorized users can join the HomeGroup.

Once you’re in a HomeGroup, you have control over what folders you share. You can give access to the whole HomeGroup, or just one other account.

how to replace windows homegroup

Why Is Microsoft Removing It?

Like many other Windows tools, HomeGroup will disappear because it’s no longer needed 5 Legendary Windows Tools Replaced by New Features 5 Legendary Windows Tools Replaced by New Features Windows includes lots of tools that you use every day, but some have lasted longer than others. Here are parts of Windows that don't exist anymore. Read More . 2009 was the pre-cloud era, so having a HomeGroup was handy. But now, we have other ways to handle what HomeGroup once did.

OneDrive (or another cloud storage app like Dropbox or Google Drive Dropbox vs. Google Drive vs. OneDrive: Which Cloud Storage Is Best for You? Dropbox vs. Google Drive vs. OneDrive: Which Cloud Storage Is Best for You? Have you changed the way you think about cloud storage? The popular options of Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive have been joined by others. We help you answer which cloud storage service should you use. Read More ) lets you sync files between computers and easily share with friends. The File Explorer now includes a Share button that lets you send files via installed apps, like messengers.

how to replace windows homegroup

Microsoft also mentions that “you can now simply connect through your Microsoft Account email address across devices” to connect to another PC. We’re not certain what this means, but assume that it refers to signing in with a Microsoft account The Pros and Cons of Using a Microsoft Account with Windows The Pros and Cons of Using a Microsoft Account with Windows A single Microsoft Account allows you to log into a wide range of Microsoft services and apps. We show you the pros and cons of using a Microsoft Account with Windows. Read More on a new device and having some of your information shared automatically. For example, the Windows 10 Mail app will sync your email to a new device.

In addition to all this, HomeGroup was a limited solution. It only worked with Windows 7 and newer (a problem at first), and didn’t support macOS or Linux. Thus, it was only really useful if you had a house full of Windows PCs.

Replacing HomeGroup

We don’t imagine that too many people will be sad to see the HomeGroup feature go. However, if you rely on it, you have solid alternatives that let you duplicate its functionality and more.

File Sharing: OneDrive

Microsoft OneDrive will cover all your file sharing needs. It’s simple to set up a shared folder with everyone in your home so you can share exactly the files you want with who you want. Plus, you can access them from anywhere — not just your home machine.

It’s already built into Windows 10, and you can install it on Windows 7 or Mac systems. Plus, OneDrive mobile apps and web access ensure you always have access to your files. Follow our quick guide to using OneDrive A Quick Guide to OneDrive in Windows 10 A Quick Guide to OneDrive in Windows 10 Can OneDrive replace Google Drive or Dopbox? It depends. To help you decide, we'll tell you all about OneDrive's best features and how to set it up. Read More to get set up if you aren’t using it already.

Sharing Printers

If you used a HomeGroup to share printers, the good news is that there are other easy ways to share a printer over a network The 3 Easiest Ways to Share a Printer Over a Network The 3 Easiest Ways to Share a Printer Over a Network You can share your one printer with multiple PCs across a local network. We explain how to set this up in Windows. We also show you alternative ways to share your printer. Read More . Most printers released in the last several years have network connectivity, meaning if you set them up wirelessly, any device in your home can print to them. It doesn’t even require you have the “host” PC turned on.

Are You Sad to See HomeGroups Go?

That’s the end of our memorial for Windows HomeGroup. It was a decent file sharing solution for its time, but newer, better tools have superseded it. Indeed, like several other features, the version of HomeGroup in Windows 10 is basically ripped straight from Windows 7.

Starting with the spring 2018 major update for Windows 10, HomeGroup won’t be around anymore. It will still remain in older Windows 10 versions and Windows 7/8, so this only affects people who stay on the current Windows 10 branch. However, it’s possible to remove HomeGroup How to Disable and Remove HomeGroup for Windows How to Disable and Remove HomeGroup for Windows Disabling the HomeGroup not only improves the performance of Windows, it can also dramatically increase your network connection speed. We'll show you how it's done. Read More on those Windows versions if you absolutely hate it. For the majority of users, OneDrive will handle your local file sharing needs just fine.

Curious about some of the other old features in Windows 10? Check out these legacy features Microsoft can’t retire yet 5 Legacy Windows Features Microsoft Can't Retire Yet 5 Legacy Windows Features Microsoft Can't Retire Yet Microsoft has removed many older features from Windows over time. But these legacy features aren't going away anytime soon. Read More .

Have you ever used a HomeGroup? What did you use it for, and are you sorry to see them go? Let us know what you’ll replace the HomeGroup feature with in the comments!

Image Credit: mitay20/Depositphotos

Explore more about: File Sharing, Microsoft OneDrive.

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  1. Jesus Alvarez
    July 13, 2018 at 3:50 am

    Terrible, HomeGroup made all the sharing in-house and private.

    OneDrive means that Microsoft actually writes the data in their servers and then is sent to the other users. Who would want private files meant to stay
    in-house to go to Microsoft’s servers.

  2. Fafi
    July 3, 2018 at 6:30 am

    We used Homegroup to collaborate on files that we didn't want multiple people editing at the same time. Does OneDrive for desktop stop one user from opening a file that's being worked on by another user?

  3. Ken G
    June 24, 2018 at 10:42 pm

    Something else not mentioned so far - I could use Homegroup's "Wake Up" feature to wake up a sleeping computer on my network, when I was in another part of the house working on another computer, in order to get access to files on the sleeping computer. Now that Homegroup is gone, there's no way to do that anymore without actually walking upstairs and physically waking up the other computer (by hitting a key or moving the mouse...). A real nuisance.

  4. Fredrik
    June 23, 2018 at 7:53 am

    I use Homegroup between my family of 10 Windows machines all with different users, some without password authentitcation. A few of the PC:s have TB:s of storage attached.

    It has worked flawlessly, sharing appliations, downloads and other documents across seamlessly. I can grab whatever computer I want to use that day and all my data is accessible. I dont want to mess around a "send" files across. That is silly.

    Homeroup is widely adopted where you have more than one PC, almost everyone have that! This is evidence that windows delelompent is not focussed around the user experience or the needs of the user base. It is a very blatant sales pitch for onedrive.. Pls. Cloud is great, but it cannot replace Homegroup.

    I tried to set up folder sharing manually, but now evertime I try to access a folder over the network I get "permission denied" and a password prompt. Even for the machine with password account the access is denied.

  5. Terry Dillon
    June 23, 2018 at 6:36 am

    We have three computers, phones and tablets plus two TVs in our house. Homegroup allows us to move things around and watch "Videos" and view pictures without going out of our own network. Why should we have to use a WAN to do the same thing???????
    I quickly removed this update before MS decided "in their wisdom" to remove the ability to go back on this crazy update.
    Microsoft are slowly depracting themselves out of existence.
    td

  6. Ella
    June 22, 2018 at 7:26 pm

    This is so stupid. I liked limiting the sharing to the homegroup only. Now anyone on my home network can access my files, not just myself on my various computers. I will have to figure out another way to lock down my network because my husband is not always a safe user of the interwebs. (can you say Ransomware?)

    And? I just transferred a 60GB file between two of my computers. I like to see that happen using the cloud - especially since I am limited to 15GBs on most of my cloud options.

  7. Lisa England
    June 14, 2018 at 2:18 am

    This is the worst idea ever and completely shut down my productivity for days because all of a sudden my software would not work...no warning, marathon phone calls trying to figure out what is going on, ridiculous.

  8. Mike
    June 6, 2018 at 8:03 pm

    I agree with the comments about homegroup. I have terabytes of data on several computers that are shared by homegroup. This latest change to windows just accelerated my switch over to Lunixmint 18.3 I have a slow WAN connection to the world, there updates bring the internet to its knees. buy buy Microsoft.

  9. TRT
    June 2, 2018 at 1:50 pm

    Can't agree enough with other comments. I was just trying trying to copy files from my surface (I work while I commute) to my desktop and wait, what, where's my Homegroup? Oh that's OK its not another software bug its been removed on purpose! I have two servers, three tablets, four PC's and two laptops in the household. These are all connected by a Homegroup and now I have to go via the cloud.!!? really!!? This is unbelievable. Does anyone at Microsoft actually use their own software? I am pretty close to moving to Linux.

  10. Don D
    May 30, 2018 at 10:53 pm

    I agree with all the comments about cloud vs. local and the sales associated to Microsoft. But not being able to grab a file off of store a file on a computer five feet away from my laptop, on the same wifi, without either a USB drive or a cable or the cloud is the best recent example of bad user design and worse customer service.

  11. Greg F
    May 26, 2018 at 5:02 am

    Why would MS get rid of such simple to use and highly beneficial functionality, Like others, I don't want to synch terabytes of data; I want it in one location to access from multiple machines. I want to store my movies and applications and pictures and music on MY property and access them the way I want. On any scale, this is the most bone-headed idea MS has ever come up with. Bring back Homegroup NOW!

  12. Agnese Ratniece
    May 17, 2018 at 9:43 pm

    I used homegroup to watch movies from pc to tv through xbox. efortlesly. now I can't ;( why can't they let people choose for themselves - to have it or not?

  13. Clayton Curtis
    May 17, 2018 at 5:22 pm

    Amen to all those who pointed out significant reasons for wanting to retain Homegroup!!!! We have run a Windows 7 machine with a large RAID storage setup for years as a "server" for our home network. With three other desktops and 4 laptops, Homegroup saved us a huge amount of time and effort by making it possible to easily share access to that server as well as printers, documents, etc. Either Microsoft didn't get input from real home users or their focus groups were biased!!

  14. Toss Pot
    May 16, 2018 at 11:24 pm

    It's a bloody nuisance -Microsoft Grrrrr

  15. Ed Gieszelmann
    May 14, 2018 at 11:23 pm

    I have used Homegroup to interconnect the four computers in my home. I treat one of them as my 'cloud' or local file server. It had a few problems with Win10 upgrades but they were solvable. I will NEVER use Microsoft's cloud (they're too nosy) and am reluctant to use any other cloud service. I think my solution will be to roll back the recent upgrade if I can and then change from automatic updates to manual updates. Then never update again until my computers die. I have tried to share folders manually, but I can't make it work. I won't convert to Apple because their office software sucks and it doesn't support the Real Time Data feature in Excel.

  16. Fred Smith
    May 8, 2018 at 9:58 am

    Homegroup is great for sharing files between a windows 7 and windows 10 pc on the home network. Uploading files to the cloud is not a sensible alternative for large files that you do not want in the cloud, even if you had the bandwidth and time and cloud storage space. I am wondering what the replacement solution is.

  17. mc
    May 4, 2018 at 5:15 pm

    this was the dumbest thing Microsoft has done in a while.

    BRING BACK

    HOMEGROUP!!!

  18. Keith
    May 1, 2018 at 8:55 pm

    I think a lot of these comments have hit the nail on the head This is purely designed to sell storage if its not why not give unlimited cloud storage freely. As for nobody using homegroup I'd like to meet Mr nobody because he seems to be the only one not using homegroup.

  19. CTG
    April 14, 2018 at 10:09 am

    I consider this a minor catastrophy for users that have a slow or unreliable internet connection but a reliable WLAN network in their homes and who in the past were through the file explorer able to access file directories on connected PCs and copy files between machines. No matter whether the Internet was up or down. Now I guess I am forced to upload more than 1 TB of datafiles to the Cloud (for which MS wants money) just so I am able to access a few files ? I feel like going back to Win10 1703 or Win7 or maybe some clever startup writes a program that plugs into Win10 and gives us back some of the functionality of Homegroup. Frankly speaking I am p.....d off by MS "we know what you need" attitude.

  20. JPPS
    April 4, 2018 at 11:49 pm

    I used homegroup to share files and a printer between desktops and laptop at home. I do not have any desire to put my files in the cloud and I am not willing to sign in with Microsoft just to use my own computers. Since Homegroup was wiped without warning from my main desktop I cannot print from my laptop. Two days of fruitless searching for a solution and trying everything has produced no result. Curiously my old Windows 7 machine still works perfectly and can find and print from the printer. I really liked Windows 7 which almost always worked. I hate Windows 10 and its endless uncontrollable updates which add apps I have no wish for to my machines and keep changing default settings. There wasn't even any warning that Homegroup was going, and to add insult to injury the system still invites me to join it by putting in a password, only then to tell me that I cannot install a homegroup on my machine.

  21. RavenWing
    March 3, 2018 at 2:56 am

    Gee, Sharing of accounting data on the local network is being replaced by the cloud. That's just BS. Admittedly Home Group has been getting problematic with new versions of windows deciding that they can't join the HomeGroup, forcing you to try to eliminate your old HomeGroup and create a new one. Quite the challenge. But removing HomeGroup and replacing it with NOTHING is a very poor move.

  22. Whatlogin
    January 27, 2018 at 11:08 am

    "Microsoft OneDrive will cover all your file sharing needs." that is an amazing sentence :) I did not noticed that onedrive is now free (at least 1T), with private encryption key and works on gigabit in cooperation with my isp. Thanks good, I was worried. Oh wait...

  23. Bill K
    January 26, 2018 at 5:44 am

    No s that is what SAMBA was designed for. It allows connections Between Windows and Linux computer for file sharing and .network printing services, although that is somewhat redundant now that pretty much every printer is network aware. Even MacOS is capable of it.

  24. Toxteth
    January 26, 2018 at 1:09 am

    Stop trying to force me to put all of my information on the cloud. Yes, the cloud is convenient, but I don't want to rely on it for everything when a local network is all I need sometimes. Is this just a way to get me to buy more online storage?

    • David
      January 26, 2018 at 5:46 am

      Most routers have a USB slot. You can plug a thumb drive in it and have your own "cloud"

      • Martin Sparkes
        June 22, 2018 at 12:51 am

        But a USB drive is SLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW storage....

  25. Guy
    January 25, 2018 at 5:44 pm

    I use the home group for file sharing to my raspberry pi's around the house & my tv for media streaming from my pc.

    • Doc
      January 25, 2018 at 10:50 pm

      I don't think any OS for Raspberry Pi supports HomeGroup file sharing (except maybe Windows 10 Core); it's a Windows-centric system. Maybe you mean File & Printer Sharing (SAMBA)?

      • Guy
        January 26, 2018 at 10:44 am

        I still use the home group on the pc even if samba makes it compatible through the pi

  26. Tom M
    January 25, 2018 at 3:11 pm

    Yes, I will miss Home Group. It usually does exactly what I need - sharing an occasional file on my Win 10 computer with, and from, my wife's Win 7 computer in another room. No syncing or connecting to anything in the Cloud needed or desired. It appears that the File Explorer Share option will let me send files to the Win 7 computer. However, a good tutorial (or a non-Microsoft program) may be needed for sending files from a non-Win 10 computer to a Win 10 one without using the Cloud or e-Mail. Networking has always been, "Not quite ready for prime time," and this change just complicates things further. Thanks Microsoft.