Contents

Why Network?
Requirements
Fitting the Hardware
How Do Networked Computers Communicate?
How To Set Up The IP Address
Manual IP Addresses
Sharing Folders
Checking/Changing the Workgroup
Setting Up Users
Checking Your User Name in XP
Checking Your User Name in Windows 7
Passwords
Setting Up Shared Folders
Sharing Folders - XP Home
Sharing Folders - XP Pro
Sharing Folders - Windows 7 Pro
Finally

Why Network?

More and more people now have more than one computer and might find it useful to network them so that files can be shared or backed up, and printers and other resources can be shared.

Networking in Windows is reasonably straightforward, if a bit tedious to set up, and this document is a guide to setting up a home network using a router. In this document I have assumed you have the Windows XP / Windows 7 Control Panel set to "Classic View" as it is easier to find the various settings you need.

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Requirements

A router (often connected to the Internet) and two or more computers running Windows XP (Home or Pro) or Windows 7, each equipped with a network card (or a wireless network adapter) and network cables to connect them.

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Fitting the Hardware

Modern computers invariably have one or more network cards fitted, and modern laptops usually have a built in wireless adapter. If you have an older computer that is not fitted with a network card (or wireless network adapter) then you will need to buy and fit one.

For a desktop PC Search for a "NIC" (Network Interface Card) in an online computer retailer or buy one from your local computer shop. They are relatively inexpensive - make sure the one you choose has drivers for your operating system (if you are running 64 bit Windows make sure 64 bit drivers are available).

Most of these cards work at speeds of 10 or 100Mbps (Megabits Per Second) and also nowadays at 1000Mbps (sometimes called Gigabit). If you have to buy a new NIC then it may be worth getting a Gigabit card in an attempt at "future proofing" but it is unlikely that you will notice a big speed difference in practice. Each part of the network will always run at the speed of the slowest NIC at each end of its connection.

If you want to use a wireless connection look for a "Wireless USB Adaptor" or a "Wireless Cardbus Adaptor" or "PCMCIA Adaptor" - the last two being used in laptop computers with a PCMCIA slot. There are currently two speeds available. 10Mbps (the 802.11a standard) and 54Mbps (the 8011.g standard). There is an 802.11n standard in the offing as well.

If you want to take advantage of even higher wireless speeds then some manufacturers do offer them - but they may be proprietary standards and they may only work with other wireless devices from the same manufacturer offering the same standard.

Fit the device in accordance with the provided instructions.

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How Do Networked Computers Communicate?

Each computer on a network has an "IP Address" (IP = Internet Protocol) which looks like this:

192.168.1.1 (used on a home network)

66.249.93.99 (a public address, this is Google.com)

When a computer wants to send or receive information to/from another computer it tags this address on to the information so it arrives at the correct machine.

For a home network you must use an address from one of the private address ranges allocated by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) as follows:

10.0.0.0 - 10.255.255.255

172.16.0.0 - 172.31.255.255

192.168.0.0 - 192.168.255.255

If you want to know more about IP addresses there is a detailed explanation at:

http://www.howstuffworks.com/question549.htm

The relevance of this to a home network is that all the computers on your home network and the router must have an IP Address in the same range to enable them to communicate with each other. Using different address ranges is one of the most common reasons for home networks not working.

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How To Set Up The IP Address

There are two ways you can do this.

Many routers have the ability to set up IP Addresses automatically using DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) and Windows uses this by default. You will need to read your router documentation to see if your router supports this and if so how to enable it. In simple terms when a computer connected to the router is turned on, it contacts the router and asks for an address which the router then allocates. It will then continue to use that address until it is turned off.

If your router does not support DHCP (or you would rather have known IP Addresses on each PC) then you will need to set up IP addresses manually.

Step 1 is to discover what IP Address your router uses, this is will be in its documentation. The most common addresses for a router seem to be 192.168.0.1 or 192.168.1.1 - but there is no hard and fast rule. Once you have discovered your router's IP Address then you need to decide what IP addresses to allocate to each computer on the network. The easiest way is just to jot them down following these examples:

Router = 192.168.1.1

John's PC = 192.168.1.2

Jill's PC = 192.168.1.3

Etc.

Or

Router 10.0.0.1

John's PC = 10.0.0.2

Jill's PC = 10.10.0.3

Use these rules for manually allocating an IP Address:

The first three numbers must be the same (in the examples 192.168.1 or 10.0.0)

The last number must be different for each PC and the router - thus providing a unique IP Address for the router and each computer - otherwise the network will be confused about which computer it is communicating with (and you will get an error message from Windows).

Step 2 is to set up the address you have decided on in Windows:

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Manual IP Addresses

Go to Control Panel > Network Connections and the following will appear:

Windows XP

XP Network Connections

Windows 7

Windows 7 Network Connections

It will show all the network connections on the computer.

Right click on the network connection you want to set up and select "Properties", the following will appear:

Windows XP

XP LAN Properties

Windows 7

Windows 7 LAN Properties

For Windows XP highlight "Internet Protocol", in Windows 7 highlight "Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4)" and click "Properties" and the following will appear:

Windows XP

XP IP Properties

Windows 7

Windows 7 IP Properties

Click "Use The Following IP Address" and enter the IP address you have decided on for this PC, in this case it is 192.168.1.12 on the XP machine and 192.168.0.38 on the Windows 7 machine.

Press the Tab key once and you should find the Subnet Mask is entered for you by Windows, if not type in 255.255.255.0

Press the Tab key again and enter the IP Address of your router, in the examples it is 192.168.1.1 on the XP machine and 192.168.0.1 on the Windows 7 machine.

Click "Use the following DNS server address" and enter your router's IP Address as the "Preferred DNS Server", in this case it is 192.168.1.1 on the XP machine and 192.168.0.1 on the Windows 7 machine.

Check the numbers are correct and press "OK".

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Testing

If your router is connected to the Internet then you should now be able to browse the Internet, make sure you can by opening your browser on each PC and ensure you can access web pages.

Sharing Folders

The security in Windows means that it will only allow people to access its resources (folders, printers etc.) if it "knows" that person, i.e. that person is a specified user on the PC in question. It is possible to use a "Guest" account but this is a potential security issue so is best avoided.

This will be much easier if you use the same workgroup name on each PC, you may find that Windows has allocated "Workgroup" as the workgroup name which is fine, if you want to use something different then you can but ensure it is the same on each PC.

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Checking/Changing the Workgroup

Windows XP:

Go to Control Panel > System and click the Computer Name Tab:

XP System Properties

If you are happy with the Workgroup name then just click "Cancel".

If you want to change it then click "Change" and you will get the following dialog:

Computer Name Change

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Windows 7:

Go to Control Panel > System and click "Advanced system settings" in the top left corner":

Windows 7 System Properties

If you are happy with the Workgroup name then just click "Cancel".

If you want to change it then click "Change" and you will get the following dialog:

Windows 7 Computer Name Change

The Computer Name must be different for each PC on the network, the Workgroup should be the same for each PC on the network.

Make sure the Computer Name is different to any other PC's on the network. Click the "Workgroup" radio button and enter an appropriate workgroup name in the text box then press "OK".

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Setting Up Users

To network PC's you need a User Name and a password. It is quite possible to use the same user name and password on each PC on the network, and to some extent it makes network access easier.

Please note that if you add a new user to a Windows XP / Windows 7 PC then that user will be allocated the basic screen layout and Start Menu, so if you have spent time carefully changing your settings to suit you then it is better to stick to your current User Name.

Checking Your User Name in XP

If you do not know your current User Name then press the Ctrl + Alt + Del keys simultaneously, the Windows Task Manager will appear:

XP Task Manager

Click the "Users" tab and you will see your User Name.

Checking Your User Name in Windows 7

If you do not know your current User Name then right click on the taskbar and select "Start Task Manager", the Windows Task Manager will appear:

Windows 7 Task Manager

Click the "Users" tab and you will see your User Name.


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Passwords

If you are not currently using a password then you will need to set one up.

Windows XP:

Go to Control Panel > User Accounts, the following dialog appears:

XP User

Click on your User Name and another dialog will appear:

XP User Accounts

Click "Change my password" and the following dialog will appear:

XP Change Password

The first section "Type your current password" will only appear if you already have a password set up, if you do then there is no need to change it.

To set up a password type it in the "Type a new password" box and type it again in the "Type the new password again to confirm". You will not be able to see it as you type, instead a line of asterisks will appear. It is not a good idea from the security point of view to write your password down, but you will need to remember it!!!

Finally click the "Change Password" button.

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Windows 7:

Go to Control Panel > User Accounts, the following dialog appears:

Windows 7 User Accounts

Click "Change your password" and the following dialog will appear:

Windows 7 Change PW

The first section "Current password" will only appear if you already have a password set up, if you do then there is no need to change it.

To set up a password type it in the "New password" box and type it again in the "Confirm new password"box. You will not be able to see it as you type, instead a line of asterisks will appear. It is not a good idea from the security point of view to write your password down, but you will need to remember it!!!

Finally click the "Change Password" button.

If you have other Windows PC's on your network then you need to go to each of them in turn and ensure that the User Name exists on all of them and that the password for that user is the same as on this first PC. You will need to have Administrator rights to do this. You don't need to log on as that user on the other XP PC's but you need to "authorise" that user so that when you attempt to connect over the network then Windows recognises that user.

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Setting Up Shared Folders

Finally you will need to set up one or more shared folders on each machine as they are not shared by default, this is slightly different in XP Home and XP Pro.

Setting Up Shared Folders - XP Home

Open Explorer, right click on a folder/drive you want to share, select "Properties" then select the "Sharing" tab.

You will get a slightly different dialog depending on whether you want to share the "root" of a drive, e.g. a drive like "C:\" or "D:\" or if you want to share a folder that is not a "root" folder. If you want to share a root of a drive the following will appear:

XP Home Share

Click the warning about sharing the root, another dialog will appear:

XP Home Share 2

If you are not trying to share the root of a drive the above dialog will appear anyway.

Click the "Share this folder on the network" box and a default Share Name will be entered by XP - you can change it if you want to but it is usually acceptable. Then click "OK".

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Setting Up Shared Folders - XP Pro

Open Explorer, right click on a folder/drive you want to share, select "Properties" then select the "Sharing" tab, the following dialog will appear:

XP Pro Share 1

You will find there is a default share used by XP, ignore that and press the "New Share" button, the following dialog will appear:

XP Pro New Share

Enter a share name (the drive or folder name is probably best) then click the "Permissions" button, the following dialog will appear:

XP Pro Permissions

Click the "Add" button and yet another dialog will appear:

XP Pro Users

Type in the User Name then click "Check Names" to ensure that it is typed correctly, if it is you will see:

XP Pro Check Share

Click "OK" on this dialog and all the others that have appeared.

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Setting Up Shared Folders - Windows 7 Pro

Open Explorer, right click on a folder/drive you want to share, select "Properties" then select the "Sharing" tab, the following dialog will appear:

Windows 7 Share 1

Press the "Advanced Sharing..." button, the following dialog will appear:

Windows 7 Advanced Sharing

Either accept the default Share name or enter a different share name (the drive or folder name is probably best) then click the "Permissions" button, the following dialog will appear:

Windows 7 Permissions

Click the "Add" button and yet another dialog will appear:

Windows 7 Users

Type in the User Name then click "Check Names" to ensure that it is typed correctly, if it is you will see:

Windows 7 Check Share

Click "OK" on this dialog and all the others that have appeared.

Finally

Provided you are signed on to each PC with the same User Name and password you should now be able to share files. It may take Windows a few minutes to catch up but you should then be able to see the XP shared folder from other machines on the network. In Explorer on an XP machine it should be in:

Network\Entire Network\Microsoft Windows Network\Whatever name you used for the Workgroup.

In Windows 7 the name of the machine on which the share resides will appear directly under "Network"

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