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Networking Your Vista PC with XP and Mac Machines

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Vista's networking implementation is a welcome improvement over what came before, but it is by no means perfect. Andy Walker helps you make home networking between a Vista computer and other computers and devices less painful with this sample chapter.
This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

What You'll Learn

In this chapter, I'll show you:

  • How to network Vista to Vista
  • How to share a file from Vista to XP Home and XP Pro
  • How to share a file from XP to Vista
  • How to network Vista to Mac
  • How to troubleshoot it all as you go

Troubleshooting Your Network

Let's face it—setting up a network, even on a good day, is for slightly demented people. Many times I have been inside the guts of a network settings dialog box, wondering why I am not feeding fudge to an affectionate defector from the Swedish bikini team.

Networking is perhaps the most mystical of the silicon arts because any one hiccup in the chain of hardware, cabling, and wireless transceivers, and the data that flows across them can cause odd and random behavior that is difficult to diagnose.

Windows has been no superhero in all this. Network software and controls have been kludgy, inconsistent, and too complex for most users. I mean, why must we be subjected to an irrelevant subnet mask setting when we are installing two computers on a dinky home network? We shouldn't even have to think about that in a simple install.

That said, Vista's networking implementation is a welcome improvement over what came before. It is by no means perfect, however. Although Microsoft has herded a lot of the settings together into a new cleaner interface, once you start digging, you realize it's only half a makeover. It's beauty and the beast.

What follows will help you make home networking between a Vista computer and other computers and devices less painful.

Basic Network Assumptions

The standard deployment for network connectivity at home and in a small business is two or more computers connected to a device called a home network router (see Figure 11.1).

Figure 11.1

Figure 11.1 Be sure you have a home network router, like this Linksys router, installed to follow the advice in this chapter properly.

A router is like an intersection. All data on a home network flows through it.

That said, I am not going to delve into the intricacies of how to set up a router here; lots of authors have done that.

However, if you are having trouble getting your router and broadband Internet connection to work, check out Chapter 10, "Internet Disconnect." It'll help you troubleshoot your Internet connection and your home network router at the same time.

I have made a few assumptions in this chapter:

  • You have at least two computers, and they are connected via network cables (or optionally) over a Wi-Fi connection to a home network router from a manufacturer such as DLink, Netgear, Linksys, Belkin, SMC, or other router appliance company.
  • Your home network router is connected to a high-speed Internet connection (via a broadband modem) that it is sharing with the computers attached to it (see Figure 11.2).
  • You sorta-kinda know your way around your router, at least enough to get yourself into trouble.
Figure 11.2

Figure 11.2 This is what your home network should kind of look like if this chapter is going to be helpful to you.

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