Network and Sharing Center Functionality and Navigation

Applies To: Windows Server 2008

The following Network and Sharing Center functionality and navigational features are described in this topic:

  • Mini-Map and network status

  • Currently connected networks

  • Sharing and Discovery

  • Tasks

Mini-Map and network status

The mini-map section appears at the top of the window and displays the computer's overall network connectivity. It shows your computer, the network (or networks) to which it is connected, and whether the Internet is accessible through those networks.

The network connectivity is classified as follows:

  • No connectivity. The computer is not connected to any network.

  • Local connectivity. The computer is connected to one or more networks, but does not have access to the Internet.

  • Internet connectivity. The computer has access to the Internet.

If connectivity to either a local network or the Internet is not detected, then a red icon appears on the map diagram to indicate the failure. If you click the icon, the Windows Network Diagnostics tool will attempt to determine why the computer cannot communicate with that network. For more information, see Network Diagnostics Framework.

If you click the View full map link that appears in the upper-right corner, a more complete network map, one that shows the computers and devices that make up the network, will be displayed. By default, Network Map does not run on a computer that is joined to a domain. For more information, see Network Map.

Currently connected networks

The list of the networks to which you are currently connected also appears in the Network and Sharing Center. Each network is listed by a customizable name, along with its network location type. A description of the type of access this network provides to the computer (Local, Internet, or both) and the way the computer is connected to the network also appears in this section of the Network and Sharing Center.

Sharing and Discovery

The Sharing and Discovery section displays the status of the different types of network sharing and discovery that are supported by the operating system. You can use this section to turn each of them on or off. Turning on a sharing or discovery type turns it on for all networks of the location type to which you are currently connected. The settings displayed are applied to Windows Firewall and allow the specified type of network traffic through the firewall. For more information, see Windows Firewall with Advanced Security (

Turning on file sharing does not automatically share any folder; it simply instructs Windows Firewall to allow network traffic related to file sharing into the computer. Turning on public folder sharing enables file sharing, if it is not already enabled, and then shares the %Public% folder according the settings you specify. Password-protected sharing is an option for computers that are not joined to a domain, and allow you to share folders with different passwords to control which users can access which shared folders. The section also contains links that allow you to see details about the shared files and folders on the computer. For more information, see Sharing and Discovery.


The Tasks list appears on the left side of the Network and Sharing Center. This section provides you with links to other programs that allow you to interact with the network.

  • View computers and devices allows you to see the other computers on the networks and the resources that they share.

  • Connect to a network allows you to select and connect your computer to one of your defined network connections or a wireless network.

  • Set up a connection or network allows you to define dial-up connections and virtual private network (VPN) connections to remote networks.

  • Manage network connections allows you to display the status of and configure the settings of the network connections your computer uses to connect to its networks.

  • Diagnose and repair starts the Windows Network Diagnostics tool to determine the cause of network problems.

Additional references