Network device discovery is a network setting in the Windows OS that you can determine whether other computers online can see your device or find other devices on the network. If you’ve enabled Network Discovery, the process of sharing files and printers through a network eases up.
Assuming that you remember, the first time you connected your desktop/laptop to the Internet, it asked you if you were on a Private, Public or Domain connection. The network discovery feature is usually kept on for private connections. As an example, when you’re connected to your home Wi-fi, this feature is switched on.
There’s nothing you need to do. But the moment you walk into a place where there’s a public connection, such as the Wi-fi at some café, restaurant, or airport, the network discovery is switched off for security reasons. This feature keeps you from connecting to untrusted networks. So your device goes ‘hidden’ and doesn’t get connected to any public network randomly.
Enable Network Discovery
If your Windows 10 device can’t see other computers on the network, 2 things could probably go wrong.
- You either selected the wrong network type, or
- Network discovery is switched off for some reason
Here’s how you enable your network discovery
- Launch ‘Settings’
- Once the window appears, tap on ‘Network & Internet’
- At the left panel, tap on Wi-fi (if you’re on a wireless network), or Ethernet (if you’re on a cable network)
- Find the ‘Related settings’ part at the right, then tap ‘Change Advanced Sharing Settings’ and its window will show up
- Open the network profile that’s currently selected. It would be marked as ‘current profile’ at the right of its name
- At the Network discover section, tap on “Turn on network discovery”. After that, checkmark the box named “Turn on automatic setup of network connected devices”
- Then hit ‘Save changes’
- Lastly, close off the ‘Settings’ window
Alternative Method – Use CMD
First, open the command prompt as administrator.
In order to switch off Network Discovery, type the following command and hit enter:
netsh advfirewall firewall set rule group=”Network Discovery” new enable=No
In order to switch on Network Discovery, type the following command in the command prompt and hit enter:
netsh advfirewall firewall set rule group=”Network Discovery” new enable=Yes
That’s another alternative (and simple to some) way of enabling or disabling your Network Discovery.
Can’t Switch On Network Discover? Do This
For some reason, if you aren’t able to switch on Network Discovery, then
- Launch the run box by pressing the ‘Windows Key + R’
- Type ‘services.msc’, hit enter and Services Manager will show up
- Then check if these services are running and are set to ‘automatic or not – DNS Client, SSDP Discovery, UPnP Device Host, Function Discovery Resource Publication
- If not, change them accordingly and you’ve solved the issue
Wrapping Things Up
You’ll see these options only if you’re on Windows 10. In the past, there was only one option called ‘Make this PC discoverable’. And if you switched that on, you’ll become discoverable (private). And if you keep the option switched off, your device would remain hidden (public). However, since it’s not really easy to configure this feature, Microsoft made some changes to it.