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Home Network

How to Setup your Network

Basics of Networking

If you have two or more computers that you use regularly, setting up a network would be the easiest way to share your files and devices between the computers. A network can be referred to as a collection of hardware and software that enables a group of computers to communicate with each other and allow their users to access any shared resources.

Advantages of networking:

  1. File and program sharing:

You can share all your information files and software programs across a network. This makes it economical since all the software programs get stored on one system and all the other systems in that network can access these software.

  1. Device sharing:

You can share all your peripherals like your printer, scanner and other storage devices once you hook them up on the network.

  1. Internet sharing:

You can share your internet connection across all the computers in your network.

  1. Workgroups:

You can create different workgroups for different uses. You can decide which users belong to which workgroup. Now you can also set the rules deciding which workgroup will be allowed access to what information and resources, thereby restricting other users from accessing these information.

  1. Security:

Networks require each user to login to be able to access the network, so unauthorized usage of shared resources can be avoided thus making them secure.

Your basic network comprises of:

  • Workstations – These are your computers which you want to connect through a network. They could be desktops, laptops or MACs.
  • NICs - These are the network interface cards that have to be installed in all the systems.
  • Cabling – You need cables to connect all the devices in your network. You don’t need them if you are using a wireless network.
  • Peripherals – These include your shared resources like your printer, scanner, modems and routers.

There are three main types of networks that you come across people referring to often.

  • LAN – Local Area Network – This is a small private network owned by a single organization.
  • WLAN – Wireless LAN – A private wireless network .
  • WAN – Wide Area Network – This would be a large public network across different cities. The connection happens through phone lines, cables and signals.

Before you go about setting up your network, Plan it.

  • Find a good spot to house your router. You also need to put your cable or DSL modem somewhere close to your router, so that you can connect them with an Ethernet cable.
  • Your computers might be connected to the router either wired or wirelessly. So if you are using wireless devices, you can place them in any room in your house within the range. But keep the distance between your computers and router as minimal as possible. If possible avoid obstructions such as thick walls, floors, large metal objects and glass barriers like fish tanks and glass doors.
  • If you are setting up a wireless network, make sure you don’t place your wireless router in the vicinity of a microwave or a cordless phone base station or a baby monitor. These tend to interfere with the signals of your router. Make sure they operate in different frequency channels to avoid problems.

While you decide on the type of network, you should remember that Ethernet technology is best suited for network with computers which don’t have to be moved around, like a desktop situated near your router. They are easy to install and provide fast, secure and reliable networks. Wi-Fi or wireless networks on the other hand offer more mobility but pose a security hazard. Read our segment on How do I secure my wireless network for more details.

The content in this segment is provided for use as an information guide only. No legal liability or other responsibility is accepted by or on behalf of SupportMinds for any errors, omissions, or statements on these pages, or any site to which these pages may link. SupportMinds shall in no circumstances be liable for any loss of any kind whatsoever in consequence to the use of contents of this site.

How to Setup your Network

To set up a small network, you need the basic hardware, networking devices, cables and drivers for the computer peripherals.

Physical Connections:

  • Category 5e(cat5) cables are usually used to connect the network devices for good results.
  • You need to install a network interface card(NIC) in each of the computers to communicate with the network.
  • If you have only two computers,you can connect them directly using a crossover     cable.
  • In case you have more than two computers each computer must be connected to a central hub or a switch(switch is preferable)using a normal cable.Just plug in one end of a cable into each of your computers and the other end into one of the jacks on your switch or hub.
  • Routers can being used, if you use or share a broadband internet connection either cable or DSL in your network. Most routers come with a built-in switch and  firewall which protect your computers from internet issues.
  • You can connect the devices like printers and fax machines to the computer using a cable. You can even configure to share a printer which is connected to one computer with your other computers.

Installation:

Now that your network connections are complete the next step is Installation. So go ahead and install your operating system on each of the computers on the network.

  • During the installation of Windows XP, you need to provide a name for each computer to distinguish one computer from another in the network.
  • For a small network make sure that, the Workgroup name is the same for all the computers.
  • Install the drivers for the network card, also for the printer if you are using it.

Working of a Network:

To check if your network is up and running properly:

  • Click on Start. Double click on My network places icon and then click View workgroup computers. If all the computers get listed then the network is configured properly.
  • If all or some of the computers are not listed check for them in another computer. If you still cant find them, the problem is with the Switch or the Hub. Else the problem is with the computer. Re-check your installation. 

Sharing:

Now that your network is configured and running, its time to start sharing your files and devices across your network.

Files & Folders:

In your network to share the files or folders which you want to access from different computers.
  • In the My Computer window, t find the file or folder you want to share. Right click on the folder and select the Sharing and security option.
  • In the Properties window click on the Sharing tab. Enable the Share this folder on the network option by clicking on it.
  • When you share a folder, Windows automatically turns on the Allow network users to change my files option. If you want other users to be able to only view your files and not change them then disable this option.
  • Click on OK to close the properties box.

The shared folder would look like this. 
b

You have now successfully shared a folder in a network.

Printers:

You can share your printer in the same manner.

  • Click on Start and click on Printers and faxes.
  • Click on the printer icon and select sharing and finish the wizard.

Internet:

If oneof the computers has an internet connection you can share the connection with other computers in the network.

  • Click on Start, go to Control panel  and select the Network setup wizard.
  • Work with the wizard and when you see the option This computer connects directly to the internet select it and continue working with the wizard and finish it.
  • Run the Home Networking wizard on each of the other computers on the network and select the This computer connects to the internet through another computer on my network option and finish the wizard. 

You now have a fully functional network all set up and ready.

The content in this segment is provided for use as an information guide only. No legal liability or other responsibility is accepted by or on behalf of SupportMinds for any errors, omissions, or statements on these pages, or any site to which these pages may link. SupportMinds shall in no circumstances be liable for any loss of any kind whatsoever in consequence to the use of contents of this site.

How to Set up additional user accounts

In your network, you can use different user accounts to secure your files when more than one person uses your computer. When you first install Windows two user accounts are created. One in the name you provide and another as a Guest account. To set up additional user accounts:  

  • Click on Start and go to Control Panel. In the classic view window Double-click on the User Accounts icon.
  • In the window that opens up click on CREATE A NEW ACCOUNT.
  • Type in the name for the new account.
  • Select the account type. Either as Administrator or as limited based on your requirements. With the administrator account you can add, delete or change other user accounts. With the limited account you can only change your own password or work with programs already installed by a computer administrator. Now click on the Create account button.

From the main User accounts window, as an Administrator you can change other accounts by clicking on the CHANGE AN ACCOUNT link. Select the account you want to change and make changes accordingly.

The content in this segment is provided for use as an information guide only. No legal liability or other responsibility is accepted by or on behalf of SupportMinds for any errors, omissions, or statements on these pages, or any site to which these pages may link. SupportMinds shall in no circumstances be liable for any loss of any kind whatsoever in consequence to the use of contents of this site.

How to find a Computer on the Network

If you have a large number of computers hooked onto your network, finding a computer you need might prove to be a tedious job. Here's how you can locate your computer easily.

  • Double click on My Network Places icon on the desktop and open the My Network Places.
  • Click the Search button and open the search companion window.
  • In the window, type the name of the computer you are looking for in the computer name text box.
  • Click on the search button.
  • The search results will be displayed on the right side of the window. Double-click on the computer you want to access to open it.
  • Close the Search Companion Window.

Now that you have found the computer you were looking for, you can login and start working.

The content in this segment is provided for use as an information guide only. No legal liability or other responsibility is accepted by or on behalf of SupportMinds for any errors, omissions, or statements on these pages, or any site to which these pages may link. SupportMinds shall in no circumstances be liable for any loss of any kind whatsoever in consequence to the use of contents of this site.  

How to Find a File on the Network

You can find a file on your network easily once you know the computer it is stored on and probably the shared folder it resides in. 

  • Click on My Network Places icon on your desktop . In the My Network Places window ,click on View workgroup computers or Entire Network.
  • Double-click on the computer you want to search.
  • Right click on the folder where the file is to be searched.
  • Choose Search. In the Search Companion pane type the name of the file you want to search
  • Click on the search button in the window.

In the screen that gets displayed, find the file double click it and open. Once you've located the file, you can work on it, the same you would with your regular files.

The content in this segment is provided for use as an information guide only. No legal liability or other responsibility is accepted by or on behalf of SupportMinds for any errors, omissions, or statements on these pages, or any site to which these pages may link. SupportMinds shall in no circumstances be liable for any loss of any kind whatsoever in consequence to the use of contents of this site.

How to Map a network drive

When you map a network drive, the shared resource shows up on your computer with its own drive letter and gets treated as a drive on your computer. To map your network: 

  • Click on My Network Places and in this window click on View workgroup computers or Entire Network.
  • Double click on the computer where the shared folder resides which you want to map as a network drive.
  • Select the shared folder you want to map in the window.
  • Now click on file and choose Map network drives.
  • In the Map Network Drive window select a drive letter using the drive drop down menu.
  • Select the Reconnect at Log on if you want it to connect each time you log on to your computer.
  • And click Finish.

You will find the new network drive under the My computer option.

The content in this segment is provided for use as an information guide only. No legal liability or other responsibility is accepted by or on behalf of SupportMinds for any errors, omissions, or statements on these pages, or any site to which these pages may link. SupportMinds shall in no circumstances be liable for any loss of any kind whatsoever in consequence to the use of contents of this site.

How do I add a PC to my wireless network

If you have a wired computer that you are trying to add to your wireless network, make sure you connect the PC directly to the LAN port of the router. If you have a wireless computer that you are adding to your network make sure that:

  • You have a wireless card and the drivers are installed properly.
  • Distance between the router & PC should be in the range of 30 to 35 ft max.
  • There is no cordless phone base unit or microwave oven near the network. This could interfere with the frequency of your router.
  • Now to actually add the PC to your network:

  • Click on Start and go to Control panel. Double-click on Network connectionsand right-click on wireless network connections.
  • Select View available networks and check if your wireless network name figures in the list.
  • If you see your network, select it and click on Connect. If you have any encryption for your network, make sure that the network key is entered correctly.
  • Your PC will now be added to your wireless network. To verify this go to Network connections and right-click on wireless network connections. Select View available networks and check if your wireless network shows up as connected.

The content in this segment is provided for use as an information guide only. No legal liability or other responsibility is accepted by or on behalf of SupportMinds for any errors, omissions, or statements on these pages, or any site to which these pages may link. SupportMinds shall in no circumstances be liable for any loss of any kind whatsoever in consequence to the use of contents of this site.

Sharing files across the network

In any good network, sharing files and devices is important. To be able to share files across your network, you need to enable file sharing on your computer. Here’s how you can do it:

  • Click on Start, go to Control Panel and select network connections.
  • In the Network connections box, Right-click on your network and go to Properties
  • In the properties window, on the General tab see if the options Client for Microsoft Networks and File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks are selected.
  • If the options have not been selected then enable them.
  • Try sharing your files now.

    If you are not able to share your files, here are a few options you can try:

    Option 1:

  • In the Network connections properties box select Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) and click on the Properties button, and then click on the Advanced button.
  • In the box that shows up enable NetBIOS over TCP/IP setting. NetBIOS is what Windows uses for file and printer sharing, so make sure it is enabled.
  • Option 2:

    Make sure that all the computers on your network have the same Workgroup name. Here’s how to check it:

    • Click on Start and go to Control Panel and double-click on the System icon.
    • In the System Properties window that opens up click on the computer name tab.
    • Make sure the Workgroup name on all systems is the same.
    • Option 3:

      You need to check if the Server service which actually allows file sharing has been started.

    • Click on Start and go to Programs. Click on Administrative tools and go toServices.
    • Scroll down the long list of services listed in the right pane of the window that opens and double-click on the Server option.
    • In the server properties window, if the service is started, stop it and restart it after 5 seconds.
    • Make sure that the start-up type is Automatic. If it’s not, change it to automatic.
    • Click on Apply and then on OK.
    • Now that if you have most of the parameters covered, you should be able to share your files across the network.

      In your network now that you have enabled sharing, to actually share the files or folders you want to access from different computers:

    • In the My Computer window find the file or folder you want to share. Right click on the folder and select the Sharing and securityoption.
    • In the Properties window click on the Sharing tab. Enable the Share this folder on the network option by clicking on it.
    • When you share a folder, Windows automatically turns on the Allow network users to change my files option. If you want other users to be able to only view your files and not change them then disable this option.
    • Click on OK to close the properties box.

    The shared folder would look like this. 
    b

    You can now go about sharing folders in this manner.

    The content in this segment is provided for use as an information guide only. No legal liability or other responsibility is accepted by or on behalf of SupportMinds for any errors, omissions, or statements on these pages, or any site to which these pages may link. SupportMinds shall in no circumstances be liable for any loss of any kind whatsoever in consequence to the use of contents of this site.