Thursday

Setting Up Windows For Our Network

Setup NetworkConfiguring our computers for our home computer networkAfter all the hardware for our home computer network has been setup , we now have to setup our computers to allow communication with each other. Though we have our hardware in place it remains useless unless the computer knows what to do with it, and it is you who has to tell it what to do with the hardware. In this article we will go through the process of setting up the software side of our network, which is not very complicated, actually a lot of it is automated or semi-automated where the computer does most of the work.

Some of the stuff you need to do is routine technical stuff like installing the drivers (software that controls the hardware devices like the NIC) on your computer. Also you will need to set up each computer so they are ready to share their files on your home network.

Note for Wireless Users: If you are using a wireless router on your network then you will need to install the router first. Though installation procedures vary among manufacturers, for the most part they all have the same general setup.

Drivers for hardware

Your network connectors, whether they be ISA, PCI or a USB connecter are all hardware devices which will need you to install little software programs known as drivers. Drivers help the operating system communicate with hardware, telling the hardware what to do and when to do it.

After you physically install the network adaptor on your computer, the next time you turn it on, windows should automatically discover it and request for a driver to be installed. This very cool feature in windows is known as plug and play, which goes to work while windows start up. The plug and play feature will want to install your hardware straight away and will request for you to provide the correct information for it to be installed properly.

With USB connectors you can plug the device into the computer while it is on and windows will automatically detect it for you and bring up the "add new hardware" wizard. This ability to install hardware whilst the computer is on is known as a hot installation (by techies), and its one of the coolest things about USB devices... Get it?... HOT installation... COOLEST thing about USB?

Come on that's funny!

Oh Never mind!

There are times the plug and play feature in windows will not detect your new hardware, in that case it will be up to you install the driver manually.

Protocols to start Communication

Now windows has the appropriate drivers to communicate with our network adaptors, it is time for our computers to start communicating . In order for our computers to communicate, they need to have the same network protocol (That's tech talk for the language computers use to communicate). There are two types of protocols used for computer to computer communication, TCP/IP or NetBEUI. Depending on your version of windows each one will be installed automatically. Windows XP installs TCP/IP automatically so if you wanted to use NetBEUI on XP you would have to install it using you windows CD, and vice versa if you were using windows 98.

Each computer must be installed with the same protocols in order to communicate; this installation binds the protocol and the network adaptor together. As soon as each computer can talk the same beautiful language, then services can begin on the network. Each task that you want to perform on a network, like file sharing, print sharing and logging on to the network is known as network services.

Naming computers and Work groups

There is one more task to do in order for our computers to communicate and share resources. The Microsoft Network system is very anal when it comes to networking rules and demands to know who's who, who's where and what's what. Because of this computers must be given a name (each one having to be unique, so you can't have two computers with the same name).

Also you must give each computer a work group (the group in which you network exists, so each computer must be in the same group) Windows Networking wizard If you are using Windows Me or XP you do not have to go through most of this, you can use windows home networking wizard to set it up for you.

The windows home networking wizard walks you through the process of setting up your network, it also sets up the shared internet connection for you. A lot of people do not like using this wizard because they say it complicates things (I can't say I am too fond of it my self). I would recommend you doing it all manually it helps you understand how windows works a lot better.

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