Sharing on a home network

I have been trying to configure sharing via homegroups. I am getting very frustrated though. I have a laptop (wireless) and a desktop (wired). I create the homegroup on one and join that same homegroup on the other. Been having multiple issues with this. I am trying to run a bittorrent client on the desktop (which is really an HTPC). I use the laptop pretty much exclusively for web surfing etc. So when I download a .torrent file it gets saved on my download folder on the laptop. For the life of me I can't access the .torrent file on the desktop/htpc over my network. Even when i had the download folder to the homegroup share I get asked for "windows security network password." I have no such thing enabled though.

Anyway from doing some research it seems people have some issues with the whole homegroup setup and I have seen people describe setting up a home network "the old fashioned way" so to speak. I just can't seem to find a good guide on doing this and I am still not able to access the download folder I am looking for.

For instance I go to my computer>network>pc name (in this case my laptop)>users> and then I see a public and a default folder neither of which contains the actual downloads that are on the laptop. Both public>download and default>download folders are empty. I don't see the user profile i set up on the laptop (in this case "Jim") which is the one that actually contains the files I am trying to access.
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