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I am using Windows 8. In the navigation panel on left, in the File Explorer, I can see two sections Homegroup and Network. Under Network a number of other PCs are listed. What is the difference between Homegroup and Network? To me it seems both are used for sharing files and folders over the network.

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A HomeGroup is an "joined" set of machines where a domain controller (and thus domain) are not available or appropriate. Predominately for small home/office setups a HomeGroup is created by a user/computer and the other computers can then "join" the HomeGroup by entering the password - you can then access the shared resources. The "Network" view is a result of your computer probing (or "discovering") the surrounding network - it searches devices rather than already knowing about them and displays them alongside HomeGroup entries (as per Guy Thomas's answer). – Big Chris May 13 at 11:51

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Homegroup is quite simply functional on a small home subnetwork. Network connections to drives and volumes can function across many subnets and are often used in businesses in Workgroups.

You're right that they seem quite similar, but the Homegroup's functionality ends with media shares.

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My Homegroup shows users, and what they have shared. My Network shows computers, which may, or may not have network shares in addition to the HomeGroup shares.

I actively joined (or created) a HomeGroup; whereas I think the Network Machines list correspond to a 'Net View' command.

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