Windows homegroup controlled by computer that no longer exists

I recently upgraded all three of my network PCs to Windows 10 (two of them were windows 7 and one was Windows 8), and the file sharing I had in place stopped working (it was based on all the PCs having the same login details on being in a Workgroup). I figured I'd set up a Homegroup and have sharing work that way, since it seems much easier now that my logins don't match (each person uses their email login to their own computer).

The problem is that when I click "Join a homegroup", I see that a homegroup has been created by a PC we no longer have on our network. I can't ping the name, and the desktop to which this name belongs was reformatted years ago. When I attempt to join the group anyways, I'm prompted for the password (which I don't know and can't see, as none of the PCs are part of this homegroup), and then it hangs indefinitely. I also can't see any way to pick a "Start a new homegroup, ignore this existing one" type option to just start over.

Is there any way to start a brand new homegroup? Barring that, where is this computer name (which doesn't exist anymore) being kept as the authoritative keeper of my existing homegroup so that I can wipe it out?
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Ryan McCauleyEnterprise Analytics ManagerAsked:
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David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
what you can do is take each computer out of the homegroup (set as a workgroup instead) and then create a new homegroup. If there already exists a  homegroup on the network that is the one that you will be asked to join

Microsoft does have a fixit for this and a further explanation
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
Did you try disjoining from Homegroup in Control Panel. I think that might work.
Ryan McCauleyEnterprise Analytics ManagerAuthor Commented:
I realize my title is actually a bit misleading - none of the three computers I have are part of this homegroup. I don't think they've ever joined a homegroup, but when I go to the homegroup sectopn of the network center, each of them says something along the lines of "There's already a homegroup on this network hosted by (computer I don't have anymore) - would you like to join it?" and there's no option to create a new homegroup from scratch  (which is what I'm trying to do).

I'll try to fixit on all three computers and see if that allows me to create a new homegroup that they can all join.
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
Did you try disjoining from the homegroup present?
Ryan McCauleyEnterprise Analytics ManagerAuthor Commented:
I appreciate everybody's suggestions, but none of them were able to resolve it for me. I wasn't able to disjoin from the homegroup, as none of the three PCs I have were members - they all just "detected" that one was already on the network and wouldn't let me start a new one. I even tried searching the registry and deleting any reference to the old PC's name and then rebooting all three, but they still wanted to join the homegroup offered up by the PC that didn't exist anymore.

I did solve it, however (or work around it, I suppose) - I ended up disabling the network card on my two older PCs, and then my laptop (the newest one) offered to create a new homegroup. Once it had created one, my two other computers offered to join it (once I turned their network cards back on), so things are all working as expected now.

Somehow, one of the two old computers was convinced that the computer that used to run our homegroup (which was reformatted over a year ago) was still on the network somewhere, and still very much wanted to host the homegroup for everybody else. I suspect that one of the other computers just remembered it from before and refused to realize that PC was gone. Really odd - I wish Microsoft would let you say "I know there's already a homegroup - ignore it and create a new one" but it seems that's not an option.

Thanks anyways, everybody!

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Ryan McCauleyEnterprise Analytics ManagerAuthor Commented:
None of the suggestions were able to resolve the issue, but I did find a reasonable work-around. I'd like to leave this question as part of the knowledgebase.
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