Do you have two or more computers at home or at your place of business? A standalone computer is limited to programs and data that is available on its hard drive. If however all your computers are networked together, each computer on the network can easily access information on the other computers, just as if all the other hard drives are on a single computer.
Of course, information is only available to all computers if the owner of that information decides to share it. So let's say my computer is part of a network, I can choose to keep parts of my hard drive private, so that no one but I can access them. So invasion of privacy by other users is not an issue. Another neat thing about networking is that you can password-protect resources, so that only those you give the passwords to can have access.
Advantages of networking computers together are numerous. A single printer can be used on a network and all users on the network can print to it. Of interest to most people today is getting all their computers on the internet using a single internet connection. The first step in doing this is to get the computers networked, and then configure the network for internet access. Other uses include playing multiplayer games, broadcasting messages to everyone on the network, etc. On the more advanced side, you could also set up local email, and news servers.
You can network your two computers together in ten minutes flat. |
If there are only going to be two computers, you can:
The following is a step-by-step detail.
Networking through Parallel PortsNote that this method only allows you to network a maximum of two computers. If you need to network more than two computers, then you need network cards and a hub. I wouldn't suggest this method as a permanent networking solution. Since you're using the parallel ports on both computers, that means you will no longer have a place to connect your printers.
In addition, file transfer can only occur one-way. You setup one computer as the Host (this computer will have the resources you want to access), and the other as the Guest (this will be used to access resources on the host). Data transfer will only be from the host to the guest, and not vice versa. Of course you can later reconfigure the guest to be the host and vice versa, in order to transfer data in the reverse direction, but that would be as convenient as you having to rush home to change your clothes each time you need to switch duties at work.
This method does come in handy if you need to do a quick transfer of large files between computers. For instance you need to install a program available on CD onto one of your computers that does not have a cdrom drive. You can use the parallel port to quickly network this computer to another computer that has a cdrom. You will now have access to the cdrom drive on the other computer.
Another advantage of networking through the parallel port is that it's rapid and does not require you to open up your computer to insert a card.
Here are the steps...
Get the necessary cable from a computer store and connect the two computers together through their parallel ports. Actually, you may already have such a cable. A parallel port has 25 pins... 13 pins on one row, and 12 on the second row.
Host ConfigurationOn the computer that has the resources you want to access:
Configuring TCP/IPStill under the Configuration tab, you should already have TCP/IP installed. If so, skip the step below for adding it, otherwise do the following:
Adding TCP/IP ProtocolNote: In some of the steps below, you may need to scroll down the windows to see the particular option.
Configuring TCP/IP cont'dOk, whether you had TCP/IP installed already, of you just added it above, you should now have it on the list under Configuration tab.
Sharing Drives and Folders
Activating the Host ComputerFinally,
Phew! that was a long one. But wait a minute, we're not done yet. We still need to configure the guest computer. Most of it is similar to what we just did though.
Guest ConfigurationAll of the steps above need to be repeated on the guest computer also, starting from Step ONE, with only minor differences. Here are the differences you need to take into account
To see the resources, click on Network Neighborhood on your Desktop. You should see the names you gave to both computers. If the names don't come up immediately wait a few minutes, and they should come up eventually. If your computers still can't see each other after a few minutes, click on F5 several times to refresh the screens. Once the names appear, you can now double click on the Host (you're now working from the Guest of course), and you'll see all the shared drives and folders. If you defined passwords while setting up the Host, you would be prompted to enter the passwords for each resource at this point.
Networking Using NICA better means of networking computers is through the use of network cards. The speed of data tranfer is a lot higher, and your computers can be as much as 500 meters apart.
With only two computers you don't need a hub and if you decide to add more computers later on, the hub can be purchased then. Also you don't need any special software. Windows 95, or better, is already equipped with all you need.
I used two 3com networking cards (one for each computer) that use either the coax 10base2 connectors or the RJ45 crossover cable 10baseT. Notice I said crossover. Your cable has to be a crossover cable, or else it won't work.
If the terms above sound cryptic, don't worry. The store you will go to for the cables will know what you're talking about. But for basic knowledge, there are three types of cables 10Base2, 10Base5, and 10BaseT. The 10 in front of each name indicates that the cable transfers data at a rate of about 10 mega bits per second (this is about 1.2 MBytes/sec). The numbers 2 and 5 indicates how far each type of cable can transfer data. 2 can handle up to 200 meters, while 5 goes up to 500 meters. The T in 10baseT stands for twisted pair cable. It's a type of networking cable that uses BNC plugs. In addition to the 10base cables, there are also 100base cables. Which, as you must have guessed means the cable can transfer data at 100Mbits per second. So if you want a very fast network, or if you will be transferring a lot of data in real time, then you might want to set up a 100MBit network. A situation where you might need this is if you will be playing games with high level graphics. Of course your network card has to support 100MBit transfer.
In addition to the 10base cables, there are also 100base cables. Which, as you must have guessed means the cable can transfer data at 100Mbits per second. So if you want a very fast network, or if you will be transferring a lot of data in real time, then you might want to set up a 100MBit network. A situation where you might need this is if you will be playing games with high level graphics. Of course your network card has to support 100MBit transfer.
I have the RJ45 cable and had one specially made to make sure it was a cross-over cable and it's about 10' long just so I didn't have to go from room to room to see both monitors and computers until I knew it would be set up right. I am ordering a 70' one now so I can have one computer in the living room, and the other in the bedroom.
I had to use the latest drivers that go with the cards because even though W98 installed the correct drivers, they weren't the newest and I had problems getting the computers to see each other so whatever cards you decide to get, make sure you download the newest drivers ahead of time in case what comes with them aren't what you will need. Save yourself the grief I went through.
After the cards and the cable are connected and are set up in the computers, open the Network in Control Panel or right click the Network Neighborhood icon and choose Properties.
On the list that shows up you need to have the following...
If any of the listed items above is missing, do the following...
To add TCP/IP,
Finally, repeat the same steps, to add NetBEUI.
If adapter is missing from our earlier list, you must add it.
In both computers, after rebooting, do not put in a password unless you want one...click OK to get you back to the desktop and go back into the Network or right click the NN icon, choose Properties, and in the Primary LOGON, use the arrow to choose Windows Logon. You may be asked to restart your computer again.
Sharing Drives and Folders
Everytime you make a change to one computer and reboot, you will also have to reboot the second computer so that those changes also take place with that computer.
Checking Your ConnectionNow you can check the connection...left click the Network Neighborhood icon and see if the computers see each other. If they do, then you have your network configured correctly.
If you want both computers to access the Internet through your single account, see my comprehensive tutorial here. But a summary is given below.
The Main computer will make the connection to the ISP and the secondary computer will be able to connect to the internet using that same connection....BUT you need one more small piece of free software to do that. It is called Proxy and it can be found at http://www.analogx.com
Proxy gets installed on the MAIN computer, and I keep a shortcut to it in my QuickLaunch because it doesn't write anything to your registry and only gets evoked when the secondary computer is going to connect to the internet so the MAIN computer user just clicks the icon to "turn it on" for the other computer. The Internet Explorer setting on the Secondary computer needs a small adjustment in the Connection tab so that it doesn't connect with a modem anymore and connects through the proxy. The instructions are simple and are included with the Proxy program.
I would highly recommend that you use the RJ45 crossover cable for just two computers and get a short one to get you going so the computers are nearby...then you can get a longer one later when the computers are moved farther apart.
Your first computer (basically the slave one) doesn't have to have a modem or an icon for your ISP since the internet connection could be made through your Master computer and you would be sharing the access using the Proxy program I mention. So in the Slave computer, you could also eliminate the need for the Dial Up Adapter and the TCP/IP > Dial Up Adapter entries. Then you would just have the Client for MS Network, the network adapter you have (the NIC card), the TCP/IP > NIC card, and the File and Print Sharing.
Just make sure that for both computers you right click the drives you want to share and choose Sharing...then select the default name that comes up for it and decide if you want selective or full sharing. It's not necessary to map the drives to have access either.
As for the RJ45 crossover cable (looks like a fat telephone cable), I had one made at my local computer shop. The 10' one cost me $2.50 and I just ordered the 70' one and it's costing $17.50 I recommend the RJ45 if your cards support it rather than the coax cable because the data transfer rate is alot faster with the RJ45.
I have a comprehensive tutorial on how to get multiple computers on the internet on a single internet connection. See this page.
Send me a feedback on this tutorial, so I can improve on it. Use the form below. Thanks.