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Network Setup basics - For beginners, Dummies

The Basics and DHCP is it Good or Bad?

Step one in networking is to make sure you have all the parts. You need an Ethernet card for each intended computer and you?ll need a CAT 5 cable for each computer. Also you need a hub, router, or switch if you?re not just plugging into a preexisting network. Before you start buying things here are some pointers.

CAT 5 cable is just the standard cable used in networking. It comes in a variety of colors. Color is just a matter of preference. There are no differences in the quality of the cable. The connectors look a lot like telephone cable but they are not interchangeable. Telephone cables use R-12 jacks oppose to the R-45 jacks used by networks. You should just buy the length you need and you?ll be fine. Unless you are running very long lines, in which case you will want to use a repeater every 200-300 feet.

If you need to share a broadband Internet connection you will need to use a router. A switch and hub will not let you share a broadband Internet connection. There are a few exceptions to this rule. Call your ISP if you want to find out which to use without being charged for and extra IP address. A router originally only had 2 CAT 5 ports. It would read the data pack and send it to the next router until it found the correct computer.
Most routers now are a hybrid of a router and switch. Instead of having multiple routers sitting around the house you have one box that is slightly larger. It has a place for your Internet connection and then places for all your computers CAT 5 cables. That box would have all the workings of a switch but also have a port for your high speed internet connection and something called a NAT. The NAT is what makes a router do what it does. The switch part sends all the data from the network to the NAT. The NAT helps determine where it goes and then sends it to its proper destination while masking its IP.

Now you have to decide if you want to use a switch, hub, or router. There is a difference in hubs and switches, although a switch and router are basically the same thing except a router has a proxy server, which allows the sharing of broadband Internet connections. A 10/100mbps switch is faster than a 10/100mbps hub. The reason the switch is faster than the hub is that your bandwidth is split up on the hub. On a switch each person gets full access to all the bandwidth. So the max capacity of a 10/100mbps hub is 100mbps. If there are already people using the hub and they are using 85mbps you?d be able to use only 15mbps. Or if they are only using 10mpbs you?d have ability to use 90mbps. On a switch if you are connecting at a 100mbps and there are 10 people connecting you are really connecting at 100mbps. A 10/100mbps hub is faster than a 10mbps hub. As a side note now 10/100/1000mbps devices are coming available. They are faster than the 10/100mbps devices but also more expensive. Mbps stands for Megabits per second. So the number plus this unit is the rough transfer rate of your devices.

If you plan on using your full bandwidth capabilities you will want a 10/100mbps Ethernet card and switch. For fastest results get a 10/100mbps Ethernet card and 10/100mbps switch. Ok now on to the guide. The first part of this guide is assuming that you just purchased the hardware and still need to install it.

Installing the Hardware

  1. Turn off your computer and unplug it.
  2. Open the case and remove the guard in front of the IDE port you intend to use.
  3. Push the Ethernet card in to the PCI slot and be sure it is firmly seated. Secure it in place with the screw in the face plate.
  4. Replace cover.
  5. Repeat steps 1-5 until all the computers you plan on networking have the Ethernet card installed.
  6. Place the hub in a central location. Plug it in. (Skip this step if you are going to connect to a preexisting network)
  7. Plug a CAT 5 cable into the Ethernet port in each computer and then plug the other end into the hub.
  8. Now power your computer up. Follow instructions on installing the card driver.

Now that you have the hardware setup your ready to setup your network.
There are a few choices here also. You have to decide if you want DHCP or not. There is an up and a down to DHCP. The up is for people who hook their computers up to several different networks. These people are normally those who take one computer to work and then back to their home network or people who enjoy LAN parties. DHCP will auto assign an IP number for you. You don?t have to worry about using one that someone else already has or one that doesn?t work with the network. You don?t have to worry about getting the proper subnet, gateway, or DNS information. On the other side if you are using a DHCP you do have a slower startup. Your computer has to go out and search for all the proper information and also it has to make sure you have an original IP assigned to you. It is also possible that later someone will come with your IP forced on their computer and knock you off until your computer fetches you a new IP. Now if you decide to you can get all the information required and get an IP assigned to you from a network administrator and save your self from getting booted off the network and the slower startup. Unfortunately if you go to another network you have to change all your information and then change it back again. Or in the past you had to setup several network connections. Fortunately for you XP addressed this issue and you can have the pleasure of both worlds. We?ll get into that later for now we will just go with the basic DHCP network setup.

Setting Up Your Network With The Network Wizard

This method will be less complicated and faster but you don?t have as many options and you are forced into DHCP. If you go with this method and later decide you want to change something look it up in the old fashion guide. You should still be able to change the same settings as you would if you set the whole thing up the old fashion way.

  1. Click on the Start button.
  2. Click on Control Panel.
  3. On the left hand side click on Switch To Classic View. If it?s not there your already in classic view.
  4. Double click on Network Connections.
  5. Click on Network Setup Wizard.

  1. Click on Next.
  2. Click on Next.
  3. Click on the first option if your computer has a modem and connects to the internet directly. Click on the second option if the computer is going to connect to the Internet through the network. Other isn?t used in typical network connections so it won?t be covered in this guide.
  4. Click Next.
  5. If the wizard says that it detects more than one connection select the first option so Wndows will select the best connection for you. Then click next.
  6. In the Computer description box enter a brief description for the computer or leave it blank.
  7. In the Computer name box enter a name for your computer. This is how others will identify your computer on the network.
  8. Click Next.
  9. If you are connecting to a preexisting network enter the workgroup name the network administrator gives you in the Workgroup name box. If you are setting up a new network choose a name. This is what the network will be called.
  10. Click Next.
  11. Click Next.
  12. Wait while the computer configures the network.
  13. Select the last option.
  14. Click Next.
  15. Click Finish.
  16. Repeat steps 1-21 until all computers are setup on the network.
  17. Go to the Sharing Folders guide below.

Setting Up Your Network The Old Fashion Way

This way takes longer and is more complex but you will have many more options. This method is highly suggested.

Setting Up Your Workgroup

  1. Click on the Start.
  2. Click on Control Panel.
  3. On the left hand side click on Switch To Classic View. If it?s not there your already in classic view.
  4. Double click on the System.

  1. Click on the Computer Name tab located at the top of the new window.
  2. Click on the Change.
  3. Enter a name that you want your computer identified as in the Computer name box. This has to be different from all other computers on this network. If you plan on not using DHCP you should enter the first set of numbers (all numbers up to the first period) in your IP then period and then your name. Setting your IP number is further down in this guide.
  4. If you are setting up a home network click on Workgroup and type in a
    workgroup name. Common ones are workgroup, mshome, and home network. Whatever you enter here has to be the same on all computers on the network. If you are connecting to a preexisting network ask the network administrator what the workgroup or domain name is. Enter the name in the Domain box if it is a domain or the Workgroup box if it is a workgroup. If the network uses a domain he will need to add your account to the domain. If this is the case he will need to know your computers name and he will tell you what to enter as a subnet, gateway, and DNS number. These steps are later in the guide. When your finished with the name and workgroup it should look something like this.

  1. Now click on More.
  2. Enter everything in your name after the first period in the Primary DNS suffix of this computer box. Make sure that the first set of numbers for your IP address is in the NetBIOS computer name box if you are not going to use DHCP.
  3. Click on OK to go back to the Computer Name Changes window.
  4. Click on OK. Then a message welcoming you to your new workgroup will appear.
  5. Click OK.
  6. Click OK.
  7. Click Yes. You have just finished setting up your work group.

LAN Properties Setup

  1. Click on the Start.
  2. Click on Control Panel.
  3. On the left hand side click on Switch To Classic View. If it?s not there your already in classic view.
  4. Double click on Network Connections.
  5. Right click on Local Area Connection and choose Properties.
  6. If Client for Microsoft Networks isn?t installed click on Install. Click on Client and then on Add. Click on Client for Microsoft Networks and then on OK. When it asks you to restart click No.

  1. If File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks isn?t installed click
    on Install. Click on Service and then on Add. Click on File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks and then OK. When it asks you to restart click on Yes. Your finished with this part unless your not using DHCP. Do not follow the rest of this set of instructions if you are using DHCP skip to the next section. Once you installed everything the screen should look like this:

  1. Follow steps 1-3.
  2. Click on Internet Protocol TCP/ICP and then on Properties.
  3. If you plan on using two networks and one of them you want DHCP and on
    the other you don?t leave the settings in this tab. Click on Alternate Configuration tab. If you have one network and don?t want to use DHCP skip this step but continue with step 31. If you only want to use DHCP skip the rest of these steps.
  4. Click on Use the following IP address.
  5. Enter the IP number your network administrator gave you in the IP
    address box. If your setting up your own network enter a number and make the last set in the IP numbers different for each user. Unless other told to do something different leave the Subnet mask number at 255.255.255.0 then enter your DNS number. Your network administrator should give you this.

  1. Click OK and restart your computer.

Sharing Folders

  1. Open My Computer.
  2. Locate the file or folder you wish to share.
  3. Right click and choose Sharing and Security.
  4. Click If you understand the risk but still want to share the root of the drive, click here if you are sharing a drive or go to the next step.
  5. Click Share this folder on the network.

  1. If you want people to be able to change your files or folders click on Allow network users to change my files.
  2. Repeat steps 2-6 until all the files and folders you wish to share have been shared.

Sharing Your Printer

  1. Click on the Start.
  2. Click on Control Panel.
  3. On the left hand side click on Switch To Classic View. If it?s not there your already in classic view.
  4. Click on Printers and Faxes.
  5. Right Click on the printer you want to share and then click on Sharing.
  6. Click on Share this printer.
  7. Click OK,

That basically wraps up networking in Windows XP.

This was not meant be an advanced tutorial. This guide will get you through basic setup and get you started on your own network, hooked up at work, or playing games at a LAN party.