How Computers talk to each other.

Discussion in 'Microsoft Surface General Discussion' started by Richard Jones, Apr 13, 2013.

  1. Richard Jones

    Richard Jones Member

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    I know this must seem a very basic question but I have just bought the Surface and now have two computers working for the first time. I should like them to be connected but am not sure whether to use Homegroup, Network or Remote Desktop Access, What is the difference between these three and when and why would you choose one rather than another?

    I have Windows 7 (64 bit) on my PC and am using WiFi via a Virgin Media Router.

    Many thanks,

    Richard
     
  2. N.G.

    N.G. Member

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    My first 2 steps for my neighbors who ask me this question is to get a Windows 8 Easy Transfer Cable and transfer everything from the old desktop to the Windows 8 machine, then make sure email is working on both. Microsoft wants you to use Skydrive, their cloud storage, for sharing, but I am still agnostic...our household has a lot of cloud storage going...someone else probably has better advice.
     
  3. kristalsoldier

    kristalsoldier Well-Known Member

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    Hi...

    About your question: A few weeks or so back, I was asking the same thing...:>))

    About Homegroups: Get it straight from the horse's mouth. Look here: HomeGroup from start to finish - Microsoft Windows Help

    That said, I did set up Homegroups between my RT and my Win 8 Pro machine (which, really, is a Win 7 Pro upgraded machine). It works. But, I have not caught myself using it. Have not yet found a need to. One thing to remember is that while the RT cannot create a Homegroup, it can join one. This means you will have to create the Homegroup on your Win 7 machine and then get your RT to join it. In theory it is simple. But sometimes Windows acts funny and you may experience some connection issues. I have found that usually resetting the wireless router (it is easy in my case as there is a dedicated reset button on the router that my service provider has given me and I am not familiar with the router you have mentioned) enable both computers to see each other on the network. After that setting things up is a cakewalk.

    About Remote Desktop Access: Again, from the horse's mouth. Look here: Connect to another computer using Remote Desktop Connection

    I have also set this up. I think the Remote Desktop app is included on the RT (or I downloaded it from the store - don't remember - damn short-term memory is shot). You can check in the All Apps section of the RT (right-click Start Screen - look to the bottom left - click on All Apps - scroll to the right - you should see it somewhere under the Windows Apps section if it is installed on the RT; else, you may find it on the Windows App Store). This is relatively easy to set up - all things remaining constant. I have used this. Why? Sometimes I need to use some applications that are on my Win 8 Pro machine which the RT can't handle because, well, it is a RT machine and that is one of the conditions. This allows me to access those applications which are on the Win 8 Pro machine on my RT. Quite a nifty app, if you ask me. Of course, there are some third party apps like TeamViewer etc. But I have not tried them. YMMV.

    I am not sure what you mean by Network in your question. However, the most common thing for both Homegroup and Remote Desktop to work is that both machines must be on the same network - like, say, your Home Wireless network. This means that both your RT and your desktop machine share the same internet connection and can also communicate with each other. I don't know if this answers your question.

    As in most things, experiment a bit. Sure, you may run into roadblocks, but its not all that difficult and it is always a learning process. In case of problems, post your question here and/ or look it up on Google (or Bing!).
     
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  4. Russ

    Russ Active Member

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    Richard --

    Welcome to the forum. You are in the right place to learn, and KristalSoldier has already given you some good advice.

    "Network" and "Homegroup" are not different animals. Homegroup is like a subset of Network. You have a Network when you have two (or more) computers that are aware of each other, and can, potentially, communicate. Homegroup establishes some ground rules that allow them to communicate more easily.

    Regards,
    Russ
     
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  5. Russ

    Russ Active Member

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    KristalSoldier --

    Can you see the individual drive(s) on your RT from your Win8 machine? I cannot, and am struggling now to remember if this is inherent in RT.

    What that means is that I cannot initiate file transfers from the Win8 machine. If I want to transfer files, I have to initiate the transfer from the RT.

    Sound right? -- Edit: No, RW, it sounds wrong. It's 'cuz you hadn't shared the drives on that system.

    Thanks,
    Russ
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2013
  6. kristalsoldier

    kristalsoldier Well-Known Member

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    Hi Russ,

    Yes, that sounds about right - though I have not done any file transfers etc. at all when I set up the Homegroup. I find the RDP to be more convenient and less flaky than Homegroups on Windows for some reason. Sometimes I find that with everything constant, the RT cannot join the Homegroup and then sometimes, it takes only one try and things click.

    Not too much of a help, I know!!! Sorry.

    Cheers!
     
  7. Russ

    Russ Active Member

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    KristalSoldier --

    Thanks. I haven't used the RT much since I got the Pro, so forgot some of that stuff. I often transfer files to and from the tablets-- new books or stuff I'm working on. I don't really use Homegroup, per se, I just go to Network in File Explorer, locate my target and destination folders and drag the file over. With the Pro, I can do it from either end; with the RT, I have to initiate the transfer from the RT. No big deal, but just a curiosity.

    In fact, I had not turned the RT on for quite a while until I saw the notice about the updates, so I booted it up for them. Poor baby, it's probably feeling neglected.

    Take care,
    Russ
     
  8. kristalsoldier

    kristalsoldier Well-Known Member

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    @Russ, in my case, it's a failure of short-term memory only! I used the RT almost everyday - but not the Homegroup thing. Tried it when I got it first - remember having some problems initially but which were worked out with some help from folks here. Recently, I set it up again when I last reset the RT. But work-wise, I have not used it at all.
     
  9. Russ

    Russ Active Member

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    KristalSoldier --

    It's a "style of usage" thang. I move files around on the network all the time. For instance, my CAD program lives on three computers: shop, living room & Pro. I will typically start a design on the shop computer, then move it to the LR, so I can study it and tinker with it over dinner. It may go back and forth a couple of times, then, possibly, a transfer to the Pro if I want to show it to a prospective customer. Or, if I use my Pro as a "remote capture" device for my camera, then I want to move those files to my "main computer" in the LR so I can do "post processing" with Lightroom. My scanner is in my office, but usually I want the results of the scan on another computer. The "Homegroup," as such, really means nothing to me. All I care about is the ability to transfer files over the network. Except for the tablets, my network is wired, so transfers are pretty quick.

    The shop computer is my "off-site backup," since it is not connected to the house. Periodically, before I go to bed, I start a transfer of my entire data drive from the LR computer onto a designated backup drive on the shop computer. It's done when I get up, and I am safe again.

    You will note that I have stopped short of revealing just how many computers are on my network -- lest you conclude that I really have been living alone back here in the woods too long. :)

    Take care,
    Russ
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2013
  10. Richard Jones

    Richard Jones Member

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    Thank you very much to both Kristalsoldier (what a marvellous nom de plume) and Russ. That has been a great help and is very much appreciated. I'll now try to set things up.

    I mentioned Network because it appears as a separate item on the left hand side of the Explorer window. I read in the local library that this allows you to see what computers are linked and saw that, by clicking on one of these, you can see and open files on the other computer(s). Is this the same as Remote Access?

    Richard
     
  11. Russ

    Russ Active Member

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    Hi, Richard --

    First, the operative term in "Remote Access" is "Remote" -- meaning that you are physically away from your network and are accessing it over the internet.

    Your "Network" consists of those computers that are on that network and can see each other and communicate with one another under rules that you have established.

    As I said to KristalSoldier, I really don't avail myself of the Homegroup features because I live alone, and have set all computers on the network to share everything (except media on most of them). My main interest is file access and file transfer between various computers. Here is a screenshot of my system in file explorer:
    Network01.png

    Sorry it's so big, but I wanted you to be able read the tiny stuff on the left.

    Under Network, note the little arrow next to each computer. Clicking that arrow expands the item to show the drives. Those, too, have an arrow which allows you to expand it and see folders, and from there on to files. Note that RWSURFACE, which is an RT, has an arrow next to it, but clicking that arrow does nothing because, as I recall RT does not permit external file access on the network. [Edit: Wrong! It was because its owner had not "Shared" the drives on that computer.]

    The example I gave KristalSoldier is a good one. Suppose I have started a design with my CAD program on my shop computer (Win8-3). When I come in for the evening and want to play with that design, I can either transfer the file over to my living room computer (Win8-1) or I can have my CAD program access the file on Win8-3. I do one or the other, depending on where I'm going with that design. Then, I can transfer that file over to RWSURFACEPRO if I want to take it with me to show someone.

    Win7-4 is my office computer. My Spam collector runs continuously on it. If I'm in the shop and am expecting an email from some non-regular source, sometimes I will use Remote Desktop to access the office computer so I can scan the blocked messages in case it's there. If it is, I can transfer it on to regular email so I can retrieve it. Network operates at the file and folder level, but with Remote Desktop, it is as though you are physically at that computer.

    If I have a long, CPU intensive effort, like a video conversion, I will usually run it on Win8-2, which is nominally Ladyfriend's computer when she is here, then transfer the results over to, usually, Win8-1.

    Your setup is, of course, much simpler since you have only two computers -- for now at least.

    Hope this helps. Glad you're not shy about asking questions, because that's how we learn.

    Take care,
    Russ
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2013
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  12. Richard Jones

    Richard Jones Member

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    Thank you Russ. That's really kind of you.

    Will now try to set things up.Fingers crossed all goes well. is the fact that I have Norton 2010 complete with Firewall, anti-virus etc likely to be a problem?

    Richard
     

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