Chapter 17. Setting Up a Network

When you connect computers so that they can access one another’s files and equipment, you create a network. As millions of PC fans buy second and third computers for their homes and offices, small networks are becoming increasingly common.

When it comes to simplicity, setting up a network has a long way to go before it approaches, say, setting up a desk lamp. It involves buying equipment, installing adapters, and configuring software. Fortunately, Windows XP’s Network Setup Wizard makes the software part as painless as possible.

And the payoff is considerable: Once you’ve created a network, you can copy files from one machine to another just as you’d drag files between folders on your own PC. Everyone on the network can consult the same database, phone book, or calendar. When workday’s done, you can play games over the network. Most importantly, you can share a single laser printer, cable modem or DSL, fax modem, or phone line among all the PCs in the house.

Kinds of Networks

You can connect your PCs using any of several different kinds of gear. Most of the world’s offices are wired with Ethernet cable, but all kinds of possibilities await, including networking systems that rely on the phone or power lines already in your walls, and even wireless systems that don’t need cables at all. Here’s an overview of the four most popular networking systems.

Note

Be sure that whatever networking gear you buy is compatible with Windows XP. The best way to do so ...

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