Setting up your Home Network

also called a "LAN" (Local Area Network)

Setting up your home network - what should be a simple task has flabbergasted just about everyone.  The most common problem is not Internet connectivity - that almost always is successfully set up  .  .  .  but it is the connectivity between PC's on the Network. 

Fixing the most common problem - you either cannot "see" the other computers on your home LAN, or you can see them listed but cannot see or transfer files. 

1)  90% of the time - rebooting both computers will fix this problem !!!

2)  make sure the Firewall is not blocking the IP addresses of the other machines.  Windows SP2 Firewall should not do this, but some other such as Black Ice require that you add an exception into the settings to allow those addresses 

3) The other "trick" is to connect using the UNC instead of using Windows Explorer.  For example, if you want to copy files from a computer named "Sally", then do this :
Start/Run . . .   \\Sally <enter>
- if all is well, a box will pop up with the hard drives listed from Sally's machine

4)  reset the Network configuration at each machine by following the instructions below - and reboot each machine

First off - there are two basic ways to do this:

*** the method I do NOT recommend, that almost all Websites do recommend - yet few people use it :

ICS (Internet Connection Sharing) - this is where one computer connects to the Internet through your Cable Modem or DSL, and all the other computers connect "through" that computer to get Internet access.  It requires that the main computer be ON all the time, 24x7.  It also means that if the main computer has connection problems - ALL computers will have connection problems.  Unless your main computer has a rock solid connection and you do not mnd having everyone else's traffic funneled through that one PC - then forget about it - this is buggy

 

*** the method I DO recommend, which is also by far the most common

Peer-to-Peer with Access Point  -  this is where all computers have their own connection to the Internet through an "Access Point", which is a router with multiple Ethernet ports (a combination Router/Hub - called an "Access Point").  The Access Point connects to your Cable Modem or DSL for Internet access.  The Access Point also acts ac a "DHCP" (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) server, which means it assigns IP addresses to your PC's when they connect.  The Access Point is the "Default Gateway" and the computers on the LAN are the "Client PC's".

The range of "client" IP addresses is almost always from 192.168.1.2 and on up from there.  It works this way:

 

The Network Setup Steps for the most Common Configuration
(Peer-to-Peer with Access Point)

 

Setup Networking - Repeat these Steps for each PC

 

The following steps apply to BOTH the "Network Setup Wizard" and the "New Connection Wizard".  If you already have an existing connection in "Network Connections", then the Network Setup Wizard will re-configure it.

 

 

NOTE:  this screen will only show up if you have already run the Network Setup Wizard
and have a current configuration already setup.  We assume since you are re-running
the wizard, that you are having problems and want to re-do it all, so check the 2nd selection.

 

On the next screen - Microsoft and a lot of other websites recommend the selection marked "This computer connects to the Internet through a Residential Gateway or another computer on the Network".  However, this has NEVER worked well for me, if it works at all !!!  If it works for you - great !!  If NOT, then select "Other" and follow the rest of the steps here !!

 

No one has this configuration !! What is a "Residential Gateway"?  No one ever uses that term !!!   I believe it is an Access Point (Home Router with Hub).  However, the "Other" selection and then "Hub" selection combination has had the best success rate for me !!

These two diagrams show the configuration that has NEVER worked for me !!

 

Select the option where your computer connects to a "Network Hub" - true, it is defined as a dumb connection device - but this selection "works". This is the configuration that works !!  It shows a dumb hub - but the system and the devices "know better" and they do their thing . . . connecting the computers together and connecting everyone to the Internet !!

 

 

 

 

 

Ignore this warning and click "Yes" !!  Sure it is risky to connect the PC to the Internet - that is what your Personal Firewall is for !!!

 

 

 

 

Reboot - even though Windows does not request a reboot

DONE with the Setup for this PC !!!

 

Setup File and Printer Sharing - Repeat these Steps on each PC

Run Windows Explorer - you will see each drive listed. 

Repeat these steps for each drive that you want to share on the network - this allows you to copy and move files from one PC to another.  Great for storing all those "Install" files and programs on one PC and then using that as a base for the other PC's to install applications.  You can also store all your tons of MP3's on one machine and then play them from any machine, etc.  File sharing is a must IMO !! 

*** just realize that file sharing could open up your files to the world - so make sure to run a Personal Firewall such as Zone Alarm or Black Ice on every PC on your network !!!

               

 

 

 

DONE !!

Reboot - even though Windows does not request a reboot

Now look in Windows Explorer to make sure that "sharing" is indeed turned ON for that drive:

 

Finally, Test the Network for both Peer-to-Peer connectivity and Internet connectivity - repeat this for each PC

Now for the final "test"  -  we need to check two things:

1)  Peer-to-Peer  -  connection to the other computers on the home network (the LAN):

 

NOTE;  to be sure - try to copy a few files from the remote PC to your machine !!

 

2)  Internet - connection to the Internet - start up Internet Explorer and see if you are connected:

 

All is well - hooray, we are Done !!!