Using the Connection Wizard on Your Own
Setting up your computer without a signup program is a little more difficult, but well within anybody's capabilities. Often your ISP will provide you with all the instructions you need on a brochure or instruction sheet.
The instructions in this section are for setting up dial-up IP accounts, the most popular type.
When you don't use a signup disk, you must set up your account with your selected Internet provider over the telephone first, and then configure your computer. While setting up your account, your provider will tell you all of the communications settings required for the service, and will work with you to select your local access number, username, and password.
It's important that you make careful notes of everything your provider tells you. You'll use all of that information when setting up. In addition to your access number and logon username and password, you'll probably come out of the conversation with the following information:
One or more IP addressesa string of numbers separated by periodsrequired for communicating with the provider.
More and more Internet providers are set up so that they automatically assign you an IP address whenever you connect to the Internet. This makes it unnecessary to know the IP addresses.
The addresses of the provider's email and news servers. You'll need these addresses to configure your email program and newsreader. server addresses may be described as SMTP and POP3 servers, and news servers may be described as NNTP servers. You don't need to know what the abbreviations mean; just know that if your provider mentions an NNTP server, he's talking about a news server.
Your own email address, the one others can use to send email to you.
Your email username and password, required for retrieving email people have sent to you. These may be different from your logon username and password.
The telephone number and hours of the provider's customer service or technical support departments.
Any other special communications steps or settings the particular provider requires.
No matter how you go about it, setting up your computer for the Internet is a simple matter of entering this information in your communications software. Once that's done, you can go online.
Running the Connection Wizard
Short of using a signup program, the next easiest way to set up an ISP account on a PC running Windows 95, 98, Me, or XP is to set up Internet Explorer and run its Connection Wizard. Internet Explorer is included in every copy of Windows 98, Me, and XP, and is often included with Windows 95.
If your computer is new, you might have the latest version of Internet Explorer already installed: version 6.0. Even if you're using IE5 or IE5.5, however, the Connection Wizard is essentially the same.
The Connection Wizard leads you through each step of the process, prompting you for all the required information, such as IP addresses. That's almost as easy as using a signup disk, except that the Connection Wizard doesn't sign you up with your ISPyou must take care of that firstand it prompts you for your IP address and other setup information, which a signup program can supply for itself.
To launch the Connection Wizard, simply right-click the Internet Explorer icon on your desktop, choose the Connections tab, and click the Setup button. You'll see a screen like in Figure 3.7. From there, you follow the prompts, filling in the appropriate information. The wizard walks you through the process quite succinctly.
Figure 3.7 The Connection Wizard offers easy-to-follow instructions for getting connected to your ISP.
Connecting at Last
When it's done, you'll end up with an icon on your desktop for your connection to your provider. When you want to connect to use the Internet, just double-click that icon. You'll get a dialog box (see Figure 3.8) with your username already included. Just type your password, click Connect, and off you go. Now, you're ready to browse the Web, a topic that (conveniently enough) is covered in the next chapter!
Figure 3.8 After opening your connection program, you supply your password to log on to the Internet.