Microsoft originally introduced HomeGroup as part of Windows 7. It enhanced peer to peer sharing across home networks , making it easy to share files and printer access between devices and users.
Of course, this was before the days of OneDrive and its multi-device accessible cloud storage service, the introduction of network aware printers, and the integrated sharing functionality that is now a standard part of Windows 10.
This past December, when Microsoft released Windows 10 Redstone 4 Build 17063, they announced the upcoming retirement and removal of the HomeGroup service as part of Windows 10 Version 1803. Just as a reminder – Windows 10 Version 1803 is the fifth feature update for Windows 10 that is expected to be released in the March/April 2018 time frame.
If you are running Windows Insider builds including 17063 and beyond, then the HomeGroup Listener and Provider services have been removed from the OS, the HomeGroup icon no longer appears in File Explorer, and the Control Panel options for HomeGroup are also gone.
If you are not using HomeGroup on the current release version of Windows 10, then you likely still have the HomeGroup icon listed when you use File Explorer.
The HomeGroup icon usually sits at the bottom of the left-hand navigation pane in File Explorer. This would display shared folders, files, and printers if you were part of a HomeGroup.
Although it is not in the way for most file operations, it is possible to remove this icon and shut down the two associated HomeGroup services that run on your device even when you are not a member of a HomeGroup.
This process laid out below works not only Windows 10, but will also remove the HomeGroup icon and shut down the associated services on Window 7 and 8.1.
From the Start Menu, or Start Screen on Windows 8.1, search for “Administrative Tools” and select the indicated result.
In the list of Administrative Tools select Computer Management.
In the left-hand navigation pane find Services and Applications and click on the down arrow to open the sub-menu. Select Services to open the list of system services.
In the main column of services scroll down until you find the HomeGroup Listener and HomeGroup Provider services.
The next step is done for each of these services to shut down HomeGroup on this device, but you must do HomeGroup Provider first and then HomeGroup Listener.
Bonus Shortcut Tip: There is always more than one way to access most settings on Windows and getting to system services is no exception. If you open the Start Menu as note above but instead of searching for “Administrative Tools” just search for “services.msc” and select that result. This will take you straight to the services listing in Computer Management and save a couple of steps.
Double click on the HomeGroup Provider entry to open its properties. In the drop down box under Startup type select Disabled and then click Apply. Now go under Service status and click on Stop to shutdown the service.
As noted above – repeat these same steps for HomeGroup Listener.
Now if you open File Explorer you will find the HomeGroup icon is now gone from the left-hand navigation pane.
When you upgrade to Windows 10 Version 1803, you will already be one step ahead with the removal and shutdown of the HomeGroup services on Windows 10.