Have you come across the Network Discovery setting on your PC? Available in Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 10 operating systems, it’s a highly useful feature for businesses with multiple computers or devices connected to their Wi-Fi. At the same time, however, Network Discovery may pose security concerns. To better understand Network Discovery and how it works, keep reading.

Overview of Network Discovery

Network Discovery is a Windows setting that determines whether other computers and devices connected to the network can see and communicate with each other. When enabled on your PC, you’ll be able to see other computers and devices connected to the same network. When disabled, on the other hand, you won’t be able to see other computers or devices connected to the same network, nor will those connected computers or devices be able to see your PC.

You can enable Network Discovery by accessing Settings > Network & Internet > Wi-Fi > Change Advanced Sharing Option. Next, click the network labeled “Private” so that it expands. You can then select the option to turn on Network Discovery. When finished, click “Save Changes” to complete the process.

Advantages of Enabling Network Discovery

Network Discovery does more than allow you to see other computers and devices connected to the same network; it allows you to communicate with the connected computers or devices. You use Network Discovery to print documents over a network. Even if a computer isn’t physically connected to a printer via a cable, you can still print documents if they are both on the same on the network and this Windows feature is enabled.

In addition to shared printing, Network Discovery allows you to transfer files between two or more computers or devices on the network. Of course, you can always transfer files over the internet, but Network Discovery makes it easier by allowing you to transfer files directly over Wi-Fi.

Disadvantages of Enabling Network Discovery

With Network Discovery enabled, data transmitted between the connected computers or devices could be intercepted by a third party. Network sniffing, for example, is a cyber threat in which a hacker intercepts data transmitted over a network. If you have Network Discovery enabled, a hacker could steal data as it’s transmitted between the computers or devices.

With that said, network sniffing shouldn’t be a problem if you use a strong encryption for your network. Wi-Fi Protected Access 2, or what’s more commonly known simply as WPA2, is arguably the most secure encryption protocol for Wi-Fi networks, making it an excellent choice if you’re planning to use Network Discovery.