When you connect a Windows 10 PC to the internet for the first time, a prompt asks you to select the kind of network you want to use. Windows uses this setting to secure a Windows PC and share permissions when connecting through Wi-Fi, a wired Ethernet connection, or a USB modem.
You can set your connection as public or private. This choice depends on where you are and what you want to do on that network. This article will show you the difference between a public and a private network and how to change the Windows 10 network to private when you are on a public one.
What Are Public and Private Networks on Windows 10
A Private network is a trusted network at home or work. Devices on the same network can see each other and can also share files and printers.
A Public network is apt for social locations like airport lounges and coffee shops with public Wi-Fi hotspots. Other devices on the network can’t see your computer, and file and printer sharing are turned off. Windows is stricter with security on public networks.
The choice between two network profiles is made the first time you connect to a network. But you can change this setting anytime.
How Do I Change From Public to Private Network in Windows 10?
You may have chosen a public profile for your network setting when connected to an internet connection for the first time. But Windows allows you to change the network profile from public to private anytime (and vice-versa). For instance, when browsing from a public Wi-Fi hotspot, switch to the Public network profile. Back home, switch over to the trusted Private profile.
Change a Wireless Network to Private
In this instance, let’s assume Windows is connected to a public network, and you would like to switch to a private network instead.
Select the Wi-Fi network icon on the right side of the taskbar.
Select Properties under the name of the connected Wi-Fi network.
Wi-Fi icon and Properties in Windows 10
Select the radio button for Private.
Private highlighted under Windows Network profile settings
The radio buttons are also accessible from Start > Settings > Network & Internet > Status > Select the name of the connection.
Change a Wired Network to Private
To secure a wired Ethernet as a private network, follow these steps.
Select Start > Settings > Network & Internet.
Network and Internet highlighted in Windows Settings
Select Ethernet from the left sidebar. You can also select the Properties button under the Ethernet connection on the Status screen.
Select the Ethernet connection name on the right.
Ethernet and Network under Windows Ethernet connections
Under Network Profile, select the radio button for Private when you want to switch from a Public network.
Ethernet set as Private in Windows 10
To quickly access the radio buttons, right-click on the Ethernet network icon on the taskbar. Click on Open Network & Internet settings, then select the Properties button for the Ethernet connection on the Status screen.
Customize Advanced Sharing Settings for a Private Network in Windows 10
Public and private profiles have specific options for network discovery with file and printer sharing. These options give you more control over what to block or allow via your network. For instance, Windows switches on network discoverability by default when you switch to a Private network. You can choose to turn off network discoverability from the Network and Sharing Center on Windows 10. The same configuration screen can also enable or disable file and printer sharing in Windows 10 for the two network profiles.
You can select the Public network when you don’t intend to connect to any other computer or share files and printers.