Windows 8 – sharing files between two computers connected by a single cable

In Windows 8, network profiles aren’t the same as they were introduced as in Vista and continued/built-on in Windows 7. You used to be able to define, change, rename and so on. Now, the only feature that remains of network profiles is the “public” versus “private” distinction.

And selecting these in Windows 8’s current hodge podge UI nightmare isn’t as straight forward as Microsoft would probably like to think they are.

As an advanced user tinkering with networking, you’ll live in the Network and Sharing Center (which is mostly pointless now) or the Change Adapters page (ncpa.cpl for the keyboard monkeys like me). If you’re a conscientious person using the “change only what needs to be changed” / least privilege / security first and still ride with Windows Firewall turned on, then when it comes to wanting to set up a quick ad-hoc network between devices via an Ethernet cable only, Windows tries to trip you up with it’s so called “security”.

You’ll configure the IP address and subnet mask on each machine and know that’s all you’ll need because that’s all that’s required for a point-to-point adhoc network.

However, due to how Windows detects and remembers networks, without a gateway defined, Windows will just make this an unidentified network because it cannot request the MAC address from the non-existent gateway to store the network profile against.

The side affect of this is that in Windows 8 you never get an option to select which network profile you want, and therefore Windows assumes the secure Public profile and Windows Firewall locks down network connectivity / sharing with your adhoc peer.

The way you usually change the Network profile in Windows 8 for a standard internet connected network with a router calls for clicking on the network icon once to slide the network pane out, then right clicking the network and selecting whether you wish to enable sharing or not. Yes = private network, no = public.

However, for an unidentified network without a gateway, Windows will give you no right click options. Which means you can’t change the network profile!

The workaround I’ve found so far is to give the adhoc network on both devices a gateway of the other machine. This way Windows can resolve the gateway to something (even if it doesn’t route traffic) and therefore create a proper network profile, which can therefore have sharing enabled / private or public type chosen.

Pain. In. The. Arse.

What was wrong with Windows 7s networking control panels?! Why remove them to give a lesser form in the Modern/Metro interface?!

Geek, wanderluster, pochemuchka, wannabe-polyglot, photographer and UK-resident kiwi here for the travel.

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