BOOT CAMP ARCHIVE 2002

  

 

BOOT CAMP 230 (18/06/02)

 

LIVING WITH BROADBAND, part 3

 

SETTING UP YOUR NETWORK

 

In last week’s Boot Camp we looked at ways of sharing a broadband connection amongst several PCs (Windows 98 onwards) using a local area network or LAN. If you’ve been following the series you should have enabled Ethernet ports on your server and client PCs, (unless you are using a wireless system), now it’s time to decide which sort of sharing system you’re going to use.

 

As we said last week there are basically two ways of doing it. The hardware method tends to be more straightforward but only if you’re starting from scratch, before you’ve set up the network or signed up for a broadband connection. If you already have your broadband connection then try the software method first. If you get into a tangle you can always switch to hardware sharing but be prepared for some extra expense.

 

The critical component in Internet connection sharing, and the last link in your network is the Router. A router is a bit like a telephone exchange, passing data between the server and client PCs, and this applies to both wired and wireless systems. However, there are two types of router -- regular and broadband (wired and wireless) -- and this is where the hardware Internet connection sharing option comes in. A broadband router acts as the gateway between the LAN and the Internet, allowing all of the PCs on the network to share the connection. It sounds like the perfect solution but there’s a problem…

 

Most ‘home’ broadband packages come with a simple plug-and-play USB modem but the majority of Internet routers have an Ethernet connection for the modem. Routers with USB modem sockets are rarer than hen’s teeth and usually quite expensive, (more so when it comes wireless types), and modems with Ethernet connections are very thin on the ground. Clearly, if you’re going for the hardware sharing method you should make sure you get a compatible modem and router from the outset otherwise it could prove costly.

 

If you’ve already got a broadband connection (using an USB modem) then you’ll have to seek out a router with a USB socket or try the software sharing method. The setup will take longer but it’s cheaper than buying new equipment, in fact it needn’t cost you anything as the software is included in Windows (98 SE onwards) and there are several very good freeware and shareware packages available for download from the Internet.

 

Whichever method you’ve chosen the next step is to configure your network and I should warn you that by the end of it you will be heartily sick of watching Windows reboot... 

 

Most of what follows applies to Windows 98 onwards. Network configuration in Windows XP is slightly different and mostly taken care of by automatic ‘Wizards’. First check that the correct networking software is installed on all of the PCs using the network. This may have been done automatically when you installed or enabled the Ethernet card, but check anyway by clicking on the Network icon in Control Panel, select the Configuration tab and see if there’s an entry for ‘TCP/IP’ on the list with the name of your network adaptor. If you can’t see it click the Add button, then Protocol > Microsoft > TCP/IP. You may be asked to load your Windows installation disc and the machine will ask to reboot, click OK.

 

The next time Windows loads you should see a password box, hit Enter and return to Network in Control panel (you can set up a password but do it later, when everything is sorted out). Highlight the TCP/IP entry relating to your network adaptor again and click Properties. On the IP Address tab make sure ‘Obtain an IP address automatically’ is checked, the field on the Gateway tab should be empty and on the DNS tab ‘Disable’ should be checked; the other tabs you can ignore.

 

Next, select the Configuration tab and click File and Print Sharing. Follow the instructions and reboot when asked. Open Windows Explorer, right-click the drive or folders you want to share with others on the network and select Sharing from the drop-down menu then check ‘Shared As’. A little open hand logo should appear under each selected drive or folder.

 

Return to Network in Control Panel, this time select the Identification tab, give each PC in your network a unique name or use a single name (your surname or street name), followed by 1, 2, 3 etc., then choose a Workgroup name (family, office etc.), note that this must be the same on all PCs! Click OK, load your Windows CD-ROM and reboot as instructed. Are we having fun yet…?

 

Hopefully that’s it, now you can start to make connections. If it’s a wired system plug in the cables, in a wireless system you’ll have to follow the instructions for installing each of the devices, but in both cases I suggest that you only attempt one connection at a time and if at all possible set up the first link with both PCs sitting next to one another. The last thing you want to do is keep running between rooms or up and down stairs. All being well when you click on Network Neighbourhood on either the server or client you will see a list of the shared files or folders. If not go back and re-check the settings, paying particular attention to the workgroup naming (it must be the same on all PCs), and double-check the settings for TCP/IP and File and Print Sharing. If you’re still having problems you’ll want to see next week’s episode, which covers basic network troubleshooting and how to set up Internet connection sharing. 

 

Next week – Connection sharing

 

JARGON FILTER

 

ADSL

Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line – an ‘always on’ high speed digital connection over a normal telephone line, which can continue to be used for telephone calls

 

DNS

Domain Name System – used to identify computers connected to the Internet and networks

 

TCP/IP

Transmission Control Protocol over Internet Protocol – a standard set of rules for sending data over networks and the Internet

 

TOP TIP

Apologies if you’re already a Ctrl freak, but this much undervalued and underused key on your keyboard is well worth getting to know, especially when editing, and not just in word processors, but in most text editor windows, and that includes email message windows. Holding down the Ctrl key when using Backspace or Delete erases whole words instead of single letters, and if you use the arrow keys to move the cursor around, press and hold the Ctrl key and it jumps a paragraph, or a word at a time, depending on the direction.

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