Here’s what to do when Windows 10 Homegroup vanishes or becomes inaccessible after you upgrade.
Homegroup is a very useful feature that allows file sharing between multiple Windows computers on your private home network. Introduced with Windows 7, you can set up one Homegroup on your LAN. Individual computers can choose to join it, or not. Each can also choose which folders to share, and on what basis. Very handy and transparent. The thing to remember is that only one of your computers can create and manage a Homegroup.
Recently, when I finished upgrading all of my PCs to Windows 10 Homegroup vanished. There were two problems. First, I had not bothered to record the Homegroup password before I upgraded. When I went to join the Homegroup, I did not know the password. Second, Windows 10 kept telling me that I could get the password from a computer named “XX”. Problem was, I no longer had a computer called “XX” on the network, or anywhere else for that matter.
Well okay, so just set up a new Homegroup, right? Unfortunately, no. Once you have an orphaned Windows 10 Homegroup, you are really stuck. Without the password you cannot join it. And, even if you have the password, if you no longer have the computer that created the it, you cannot manage it. (By “cannot manage it”, I mean that you cannot recover the password or delete the orphaned Homegroup.) Windows does not provide any tools to manage a Homegroup, other than the opaque processes hidden in the PC that created it.
Fixing an Orphaned Windows 10 Homegroup
After some research (sigh, many hours lost…) here is how to delete an orphaned Windows 10 Homegroup and set up a new one. Follow these steps in order.
- Go to a folder called “C:\Windows\ServiceProfiles\LocalService\AppData\Roaming\PeerNetworking.” Delete all files with the prefix “idstore” in this folder. Actually, I just deleted all the files in this folder. This is a hidden folder and required Administrative rights.
- After you delete these files, turn off your computer.
- Do steps #1 and #2 on all of your Windows computers.
- Reboot your router. Just unplug it for ten seconds.
- Now, start only one of your Windows computers. You will use this PC to create a new Windows 10 Homegroup. Write down the password!
- Once you have created the new Homegroup, you can start up the rest of your Windows computers and join the new Homegroup.
I found that it took a few hours for some of the computers to recognize the new Homegroup, and still wanted to join the old “missing” one, or wanted you to create another Homegroup. If this happens, just do steps #1 and #2 again on that particular PC and reboot it. Eventually, it will recognize the new Homegroup and let you join.