Whether you built the network yourself (Chapter 18) or work in an office where somebody has done that work for you (Chapter 19), all kinds of fun can come from having a network. You’re now ready to share the following components among the various PCs on the network:
Your Internet connection. Having a network means that all the PCs in your home or office can share a single connection. This is a huge feature, one that can save you hundreds of dollars a year if you have a cable modem or DSL. On a small network, it’s called Internet Connection Sharing, and it’s described in Chapter 18.
Printers. Another excellent justification for creating a network is that you don’t need a printer for every PC; all of the PCs can share a much smaller number of printers. If several printers are on your network—say, a high-speed laser printer for one computer, a color printer for another—everyone on the network can use whichever printer is appropriate to a particular document. You’ll find step-by-step instructions starting on Section 13.4.
Files, folders, and disks. No matter what PC you’re using on the network, you can open the files and folders on any other networked PC (and its mounted disks), as long as the other PCs’ owners have made these files available for public inspection. That’s where file sharing comes in, and that’s what this chapter is all about. (File sharing also lets you access your files and folders using a laptop on the road.)
The uses for file sharing ...