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Networking Windows

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This chapter walks you through the creation or upgrade of a network for a home or small office network, what Microsoft’s calls a "workgroup network."

Setting Up a Network

In this chapter, we’re assuming that you are creating or adding to a network for a home or small office network, which in Microsoft’s jargon is called a workgroup network. That said, much of this material still applies to corporate-style domain networks as well. There just isn’t room in this book to cover every nuance of creating that type of network.

Windows has all the software you need already built in, but you may need to purchase some additional hardware components:

  • An Ethernet (wired) or wireless network adapter for each computer. Virtually all new desktop and laptop computers have an Ethernet adapter built onto the motherboard, and many laptops have wireless networking built in as well, so you may not have to purchase these.
  • For a wired network, an Ethernet switch or hub, or a cable/DSL sharing router with a built-in switch, and CAT-5 cables to run from each computer to the switch, as shown in Figure 6.1.

    Figure 6.1

    Figure 6.1 A basic wired Ethernet network, using CAT-5 cabling.

  • For a wireless network, a wireless router or access point. This router or access point usually also has jacks for Ethernet connections so that wired connections can be made as well, if desired, as shown in Figure 6.2.

    Figure 6.2

    Figure 6.2 A wireless network with an access point or wireless Internet sharing router, and optional wired Ethernet connections.

Here are the steps you’ll want to follow:

  1. Get whatever extra hardware you need. The next section gives you a brief overview of the types of available hardware.
  2. Install your network adapters and cabling. I won’t cover this part in detail in this book. (If you need more information on selecting and installing network hardware, refer to Upgrading and Repairing Networks or Upgrading and Repairing PCs, both published by Que.)
  3. If you are creating a wireless network, install your access point or wireless router according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  4. Set up Windows to use your network, as described under “Configuring a Workgroup Network,” later in this chapter.

If you’re not already familiar with network hardware, the next section gives a quick overview of what’s available. If you already have your hardware, skip ahead to “Wireless Networking” or if you’re building a wired Ethernet network, “Configuring a Workgroup Network.”

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