As we all know, different standards exist for the way one behaves in public versus how one behaves in the privacy of one’s home. Computers are no different. You want your laptop to connect automatically, share files, and access printers when it’s on your home network, but at a public hotspot, you want to prevent your machine from sharing info with anyone.
To avoid having to fiddle with your security settings and file-sharing permissions every time you change locations, simply set up a separate user account for each place you use your laptop. For example, “Home,” “Office,” “Public,” or if you plan on letting someone use your laptop but don’t want them to have access to all your files, “Guest.” Simply go to Control Panel>User Account to set up the profiles.
If there are certain files you’d like to have access to from all accounts login as Administrator, put them in the Windows 7’s “Public Documents” folder (Shared Documents in XP). Right-click on that folder, and choose “Share with…”, then “Specific people…”, and select the proper users. Conversely, put the files you only want to view in certain locations in the “My Documents” folder for the appropriate user profile. Then, configure accounts by logging in to each one and adjusting your setting in Control Panel. Any time you want to install new software, log in as administrator and select the “Install for All Users” option. Above all, be sure that file sharing is disabled (Control Panel>Network and Sharing Center>Advanced sharing settings) or, at the very least, protected with a strong password in the “Public” profile. If not, you could be sharing your entire hard drive with anyone on the same Wi-Fi network.