It’s a rare Windows XP Pro machine indeed that isn’t connected, sooner or later, to some kind of office network (technically known as a local area network, or LAN). And no wonder: 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 the workday’s done, you can play games over the network. You can even store your MP3 music files on one computer and listen to them on any other. Most importantly, you can share a single laser printer, cable modem or DSL Internet connection, fax modem, or phone line among all the PCs in the house.
If you work at a biggish company, you probably work on a domain network, which is described in the next chapter. You, lucky thing, won’t have to fool around with building or designing a network; your job, and your PC, presumably came with a fully functioning network (and a fully functioning geek responsible for running it).
If you work at home, or if you’re responsible for setting up a network in a smaller office, this chapter is for you. It guides you through the construction of a less formal workgroup network, which ordinary mortals can put together.
You’ll soon discover that, 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, ...