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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Networking Vista to a Windows XP Computer

I'd bet that most people who read this book have a copy of Windows Vista on their newest computer and at least one other computer that uses Windows XP.

Perhaps it used to be your primary computer, and now it's been demoted as a machine for the kids or your spouse, or it's a file server that contains your MP3 files, perhaps. I have a computer at home full of 1980s tunes, including a few by Cyndi Lauper. I am not ashamed that I dance like a moron when I vacuum.

So, let's set up both the Vista machine and the XP machine to talk to each other, starting with Windows XP.

Recommended: Convert Your XP Computer to NTFS

For file sharing, I recommend that your XP hard drive should be formatted as an NTFS drive, not a FAT32 drive. NTFS is a newer, more secure disk-formatting technology.

File systems are created when you first format a hard drive. By default, XP uses NTFS, although if you upgraded from Windows Me or 98, it could still be configured as FAT32.

For security purposes, we're going to want to use NTFS because it gives us control over who gets access to what on a network computer.

To check the file system on your XP computer:

  1. Click the Windows button and then My Computer.
  2. In the My Computer window, right-click on your C: drive and choose Properties.
  3. Under file system, you should see NTFS (see Figure 11.7) or FAT32.
    Figure 11.7

    Figure 11.7 Make sure your Windows XP computer uses the NTFS file system.

If it shows NTFS, you're good to go. Skip to the next section. If not, here's how to convert a FAT32 drive to NTFS:

  1. Click the Windows button and then select Run.
  2. Type cmd in the Run box and click OK. A Command prompt window opens.
  3. At the flashing cursor, type convert c: /fs:ntfs (see Figure 11.8).
    Figure 11.8

    Figure 11.8 If you need to, convert your XP system's hard drive to the NTFS file system.

  4. Windows converts the drive to NTFS.

Create a Password-Protected User on XP

Now let's password protect one of your XP user accounts:

  1. Click the Windows button, Control Panel, User Accounts.
  2. Click on the account name you want to use to share a folder, and choose Create a Password (see Figure 11.9).
    Figure 11.9

    Figure 11.9 Passwords protect one of the user accounts on your XP system.

  3. Type a new password and retype it; then click Confirm.
  4. If, at this point, a Windows XP dialog box asks whether you want to make your files and folders private, choose No.

Disable Simple File Sharing

If you have Windows XP Pro on your system, disable simple file sharing.

It will interfere with the File and Printer Sharing feature, so we need to turn it off, as follows:

  1. Click the Windows button, All Programs, Accessories, Windows Explorer.
  2. Click the Tools, Folder Options, and select the View tab.
  3. Scroll down to the bottom of the Advanced Settings box and uncheck Use Simple File Sharing (Recommended) (see Figure 11.10).
    Figure 11.10

    Figure 11.10 Turn off simple file sharing on your XP Pro computer. It's the last item in this figure.

  4. Click Apply, and then click OK.

Enable File and Printer Sharing

Now, enable File and Printer Sharing on your XP computer. To do this:

  1. Click the Windows button, Control Panel, Network and Internet Connections, Network Connections.
  2. In the Network Connections window, right-click the Local Area Connection and choose Properties.
  3. In the Local Area Connection Properties window, check File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks (see Figure 11.11).
    Figure 11.11

    Figure 11.11 Enable File and Printer Sharing on your XP computer.

Without a check mark here, you won't be able to share any of your folders or files from your XP Pro or XP Home computer.

Synchronize Workgroup Names

Make sure that the XP computer is a member of the same network workgroup as the Vista computer.

From the Vista end of things, computers on the same home network can be members of any workgroup and the Vista computer will detect them. On the XP end of things, the workgroup name appears to be important. For your sanity, standardize on the same workgroup name for all computers that will share data. The default workgroup name most people use is the imaginative name WORKGROUP (as I mentioned earlier in this chapter in the section, "Networking Vista to Vista").

Here are the steps to change the name of your network workgroup on both types of computer.

How to Change the Workgroup in XP

Let's start with how to edit the workgroup in Windows XP.

  1. Click the Windows button, Control Panel, System.
  2. Click the Computer Name tab and then click the Change button next to where it says To Rename This Computer or Join a Workgroup, Click Change (see Figure 11.12).
    Figure 11.12

    Figure 11.12 Change the workgroup on your XP computer.

  3. Under Workgroup, type WORKGROUP and click OK.
  4. You'll need to restart the system for the changes to take effect.

How to Change the Workgroup in Vista

Now let's edit the workgroup in Windows Vista.

  1. Click the Windows button, type System in the Search box, and click System when it appears in the Start menu.
  2. Under the Computer Name, Domain, and Workgroup Settings, you see the name of the system's workgroup listed.
  3. To change it, click Change Settings and then click Continue when the UAC warning appears.
  4. On the Computer Name tab, click Change, edit the Workgroup name, and then click OK (see Figure 11.13).
    Figure 11.13

    Figure 11.13 Click Change to modify the name of the workgroup on your Vista computer.

  5. You'll need to restart the system to finish.

Testing 1,2,3: Is This Network On?

With all these tweaks in place, both your Windows Vista computer and Windows XP computer should be able to "see" each other. Here's how to test that.

Is Windows XP in the Right Workgroup?

  1. Click the Windows button, Control Panel, Network Connections; then on the left-hand side, click My Network Places.
  2. On the left side of the Network Places window, click View Workgroup Computers.
  3. Have patience while the system sniffs out the network. Wait times for machines to appear can vary. Sometimes it's a few seconds, and sometimes it's a few minutes.
  4. If nothing appears, scoot back to the section "How to Change the Workgroup in XP" on p. 366 (this chapter) and make sure the computer is set to the same workgroup as the Vista computer.

Is Windows Vista in the Right Workgroup?

  1. Click the Windows button and then Network on the right side of the Start menu.
  2. Wait for the computer to scan the network. Watch the green bar at the top to see the scanning progress. All computers on your network appear (see Figure 11.14).
    Figure 11.14

    Figure 11.14 Browse your network from Vista.

  3. The computers are represented in different ways. If the icons have blue screens, they are (ironically) detected and online. You should also see that your router will have a router icon and some computer names will be duplicated because they will have media-sharing enabled.

Troubleshooting XP-to-Vista Networking

Sometimes XP just refuses to work with your network. And even if you put all the preceding settings in place and do everything right, sometimes it just won't do what it is supposed to do. Vista won't see your XP computer, and your XP computer won't see anything but itself, or everything but itself.

There could be a dozen issues causing this, because a network consists of lots of hardware, software, and operating system settings. Think of it this way: If you bit into a sandwich and it tasted bad, you'd check the bread, the mayo, the mustard, the lettuce, the cheese, the roast beef, and so on until you discovered the nasty bit. A network is a multi-decker sandwich, and finding the bad bit can be extremely difficult. That said, there are some obvious things you can try that might coax it to work:

  • Change the network connection from wireless to wired (if an option) or from wired to wireless.
  • If wireless, make sure you are connected to the right wireless network and not your neighbor's network.
  • If available, update the driver for your network or wireless card.
  • Update the system BIOS or update chipset drivers.
  • Leave it be. Sometimes a bit of patience leads to XP suddenly waking up and finding the network and displaying it.
  • Reboot. It's panacea for all PC ills, but it can work. I suspect that the network stack in XP is buggy, and sometimes it hangs. A reboot can refresh it.
  • Refresh the My Network Places window by hitting F5 or clicking View Workgroup Computers a second time. On Vista, right-click in the network window and choose Refresh.
  • After you get the XP machine to see the network, the Vista computer will then in turn make the XP machine appear in the Vista network window.
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