Beginners Guides: Basic Home Networking and File Sharing
PCstats guides you through the process of home networking - Version 1.1.0
Networking, or connecting computers together to share information, has long
been one of the more difficult areas of basic computing
to get a grasp on, mainly because it is one of
those points at which the generally friendly user interface of your
average Windows box starts showing cracks, or possibly gaping holes ready to swallow up the
Now granted, since windows 98 started the process,
Microsoft's OSs have been getting progressively better at automating the process
of connecting computers together, but there is still the external setup
required, and if something goes wrong... well it's good to know where to look to
The purpose of this article is two-fold. First, to enable you to
set up your own home network and share files between your computers,
and second to make you comfortable with basic computer networking
terminology and practice. Internet sharing deserves its own article, and so is not part of this one.
First, some important terms.
Skip them if you know them.
Ethernet Network adaptor: An
internal device that allows computers to communicate with each other via
electrical signals passed through cable. Also known as a NIC (Network Interface
Hub: An external device with
multiple connections (ports). A computer attached to one port can communicate
with computers attached to any of the other ports. They are available in many
sizes, most commonly 5 ports.
Switch: Similar to a hub, but
more efficient. While a hub will send data it receives from one port out all its
other ports and let the computers attached to it figure out who the data is
intended for, a switch stores information about the computers connected to it,
then sends data only to the computer it is addressed to.
Firewall: A term for a
software program or hardware device which can restrict specific kinds of data
from passing into (or in some cases, out of) your network from the internet.
Used for security purposes.
Cable/DSL router: Network
devices which combine the functions of a switch and a firewall. They also
provide the ability to easily share a DSL or cable Internet
By default, all Windows operating systems use the
TCP/IP protocol suite to communicate with each other through network devices.
We'll look at this vital method of addressing computers on the next