Idiot's guide to networking

  exdragon 16:04 05 Feb 2006

Hi - I'm thinking about networking my current and previous desktops so I can back up to the latter, thus leaving me more space on the newer model.

I don't think I want to go the wireless route, but I'm not sure what I need to know before I can make a start!

I've got XP on both machines and the internet connection is via a BT Voyager 205 modem/router, using the ethernet cable. I understand I'll need a crossover cable, which seems fairly straightforward, but what happens next?

I've had a look at some of the previous postings but quickly became bemused by sub net masks and IP addresses. The whole thing seems fraught - is it worth doing, or would I be more sensible to back up onto rewritable DVDs and just stick them in the second machine?

Or is that being defeatist?

  ade.h 16:44 05 Feb 2006

If you already have a modem/router, surely it would be the simplest solution to pop a wifi card into one of the PCs, whichever one is not connected to the router. Run the Network Setup Wizard on each PC, share some of your folders and it's job done.

  keewaa 17:27 05 Feb 2006

The easiest way would be to use the USB connection for one machine and the ethernet connection for the other machine. You can buy up to 30m ethernet patch cat5e cables from Amazon for £8.

Once both have internet access, you just run the Network setup wizard on both machines, adjust any software firewalls (disable ALL during initial setup) share seom folders, and it should work.

You read about subnet masks and IPs, but this is only if you have problems to try and fix them.

  exdragon 17:46 05 Feb 2006

ade.h: how do I know what wifi card and where does it go?

keewaa: if I've got the ethernet cable going from the router to the current pc, then what does the usb cable for the old one plug into?? As in what do I do with both ends? Won't I end up with 3 cables but not 6 places to put them?

Looking at the problems some people seem to be having, I can't believe it's that easy... And what's a 1394 net adapter - it that anything relevant? Belarc says I've got one in the new machine.

Sorry - I did warn you!

  ade.h 17:52 05 Feb 2006

If you're talking desktops, a wifi card's a wifi card basically. PCI interface; goes in the same place as all your other internal cards.

My reasons for suggesting this: I hate wires and I particularly hate ICS! Routers are just so much better, and as you've already got one, you should make the most of it.

  ade.h 17:55 05 Feb 2006

IEEE 1394 is the proper name for a Firewire port. because of the way in which it works, it gets classed as a form of network connection, but that's a bit of a misnomer as it's basically a more advanced alternative to USB2.

  exdragon 18:08 05 Feb 2006

ade.h - what's ICS? To be honest, there are already so many wires under my desk, and the 2nd pc is only going to be a few feet away, under another desk.

So all I do is put a card in the second one and follow the instructions? Can I screw it up??

Then I can just use the second to back up from the first? I've got Acronis at present and I'm getting into such a mess with backups, CDs, copies and heaven knows what else.

  ade.h 18:25 05 Feb 2006

ICS = Internet Connection Sharing. It's what you have to enable when sharing a net connection accross more than one PC in a wired Ethernet LAN. One PC will have a direct connection to the net; this is the host PC and acts as a gateway for the client PCs.

Happily, the use of a router avoids this little horror.

  keewaa 18:26 05 Feb 2006

The BT 205 has 2 ports for using 2 computers 1 USB and one ethernet, hence my suggestion that you have everything you need (except maybe a long ethernet cable), 1 computer linked by USB to the BT205 (the nearest one to it) and 1 computer linked by ethernet (up to 100m away if needed lol)

  ade.h 18:32 05 Feb 2006

"So all I do is put a card in the second one and follow the instructions?"

Yes, pretty much. Put the card in, boot up and let XP install the drivers for you. If it asks for a driver CD, use it, but - generally speaking - you won't need to install a wifi card from a CD or use any software that the manufacturer may have "helpfully" provided because it's 99% likely to be non-essential. It just needs a driver and XP probably already has it in its driver cache or will offer to get it for you from the CD or the internet.

Once installed; run the NSW on each PC, following its prompts according to the type of network that you are creating.


"Can I screw it up?"

Well, yes; it's conceivably possible to screw almost anything up if you try hard enough! But it's not as if its complex. The important thing with networks is to do it 100% right first time, which is not as hard as it may sound.

  exdragon 19:32 05 Feb 2006

Thanks to both of you - that all sounds fair enough apart from "according to the type of network that you are creating"

How do I know, ade.h?

And the good news is that if I can do it, and it works, I get to set up the same thing for my other half - he's decided that as I'm usually the one who follows the instructions, while he dives in headlong and gets it wrong, then I get to go first!

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