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Networking Basics

June 17, 2003 10:26 IST

How to connect two or more computers at home

If you have two or more computers at home, the smartest thing to do is to network the machines to allow sharing of information.

By networking computers at home, you can:

  • Share a printer. Once networked, there is no need for you to copy files on to a floppy disk, take it to the computer with the printer configured to it for printing. You can print directly from your computer.
  • Share all files. Including images, spreadsheets or documents so that they can be accessed from any other computer on the network.
  • Play multiple user games.
  • Share a single Internet connection. By dialing up from one computer, you can also connect to the Internet from another computer on the network.

The Internet is the most conspicuous example of computer networking, linking millions of computers around the world.

The basics
There are two kinds of home networking systems: wired and unwired. Unwired networks are easy to implement, but are very expensive.

For a wired network, you'll need a network interface card for each computer, network cables and a hub (a central point to which all network cables connect). A hub is only required if you are connecting more than two computers. All PentiumTM machines have PCI (Peripheral component Interconect) slots to hold the network cards, while some older machines might have ISA (Industry standard architecture). If you are networking a 486 and a PentiumTM, you need to ensure you have the right cards.

If you are not a computer technician, and would still like to do it yourself, home networking kits are easily available. These kits come with detailed instructions to install the hardware and the required change in settings. If you are not very confident, you can get help from your computer support technician.

For those running the WindowsTM operating system, networking software is built in and quite simple. You will have to determine the technology for the network - the most popular being the standard Ethernet. Most networking kits come with the necessary instructions and hardware. But if these kits are exorbitantly priced, you can buy the parts separately and then network your computers.

There are sites with detailed instructions about the whole process, along with screenshots and images. Homepcnetwork.com has a step-by-step guide to building a peer-to-peer (a network that connects two or more computers) Ethernet network, at home.

After fixing the hardware and the cables, you will have to configure the systems to share files, printers and even the Internet connection. This is the most important part of networking.

Howstuffworks.com has information on how to configure settings for WindowsTM. This article explains everything about network settings from naming your PC to setting up security information. Screenshots are also included for easy understanding. This site has details on home networking with the Linux system.

Additional resources

-- Share a keyboard, monitor and mouse with several computers

-- Network a laptop into your home LAN

-- Networking PC and Mac

-- Sharing Internet connection

-- Other types of networking

-- Do-it-yourself home networking

-- More...



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