Home Pauline's Pages Howto Articles Uniquely NZ Small Firms Search
Click for larger image
A Guide to Painless Networks

A Guide to Painless Networks | Extra considerations when using Windows XP | ADSL Broadband | Microsoft Internet Connection Sharing Software | ADSL Wi-Fi Router Firewalls

This page is intended for those who want to set up their first Network, at home or for a small business, to link together three or four machines to share files and printers.

Other pages in the series cover sharing Internet Access, Wireless (WiFi) Networks and other more complex situations.

  1. Introduction

    • Who are these guides for?
    • What is involved?

  2. Choosing a Network

    • Network Architectures
      • Client Server Architecture Network
      • Peer to Peer Networking
    • Popular Network Technologies
      • 10-Base-2 Ethernet
      • 10-Base-T Ethernet
      • Wireless Networks
    • Network Software
    • Conclusions

  3. Installing the Network

    • Hardware
      • Installing Network Interface Cards with examples of:
        • D-Link DE-220PT Ethernet ISA card
        • D-Link DE-660CT Ethernet PCMIA card
      • Checking the Network Cards
      • Accessing Device Information
      • Updating Network Adapter Device Drivers

    • Software
      • Windows 95/98 Network Software Installation
      • Windows 95/98 Network Software Configuration
      • Windows XP Network Software is in part II

  4. Using the Network

    • Make the Resources available
      • Sharing Drives, Folders and Files
      • Sharing Printers

    • Accessing Resources
      • Network Neighborhood
      • Windows Explorer
      • File menus
      • Mapping Resources to a Drive
      • Printers

  5. Other pages in the Painless Networking Series

    • Updated - Networking with Mixed Windows XP and 9X systems - what to do when you have to add Windows XP machines to an old network.
    • New - ADSL Broadband - considerations and practicalities of Broadband access.
    • Updated - Internet Connection Sharing - an cheap way to get all machines online when you go Broadband
    • New - ADSL Wi-Fi Router Firewalls - a better way to provide Internet access throughout ones hardwired network and to Wi-Fi connected laptops. Covers the use of ADSL Modems, Gateways, Routers, Firewalls and Access points, in particular, the combination units now available.

1. Introduction

Who is the guide for? This guide is intended for those who want to set up their first Network, at home or for a small business with 3 or 4 computers that they want to link together to share files and printers. I have given some background and laid out the main choices but I have not explored those that are inappropriate in any depth.

It was originally written for systems using Windows 95 - 98 ME but the additional steps to prepare for Windows XP were added in May 2003 and the opportunity was also taken to make some of the configuration stages more explicit. Configuring machines with Windows XP is covered in a short addition Networking with Mixed Windows XP and 9X systems explaining what to do when you have to add Windows XP machines to an old network.

A third part was added in July 2003 for those wishing to experiment with Microsoft Internet Connection Sharing Software over a local network - very useful if you have broadband but challenging to implement compaired to the other parts. A fourth part is being added in September 2004 covering the use of ADSL Wi-Fi Router Firewalls to give Internet access throughout ones hardwired network and to Wi-Fi connected laptops by making use of ADSL Modems, Gateways, Routers, Firewalls and Access points - a slightly more expensive but much easier and safer approach to broadband especially now combined ADSL Modem, gateway, router and Wifi Access point boxes are available at under 100 pounds. The last part being prepared covers more details of ADSL Broadband covering the considerations and practicalities of Broadband access

What is involved in a basic network? Setting up and using a small network of the sort described here is not beyond most people but it does involve a number of stages and also it requires hardware to be installed in your machine. Installing the hardware, a Network Interface Card (NIC) and associated software drivers is by far the most difficult stage and you need to allow plenty of time. The setting up of the Windows software is poorly documented so I have included lots of screen grabs to show one what one should have. These images display in a new Window so, depending on your browser, you can have several in view when you are setting up. I have also included some screen grabs of what the Network looks like when it is installed and described how to use it effectively.

2. Choosing a Network

Network Architectures:

Network Technologies:

Software for Peer-to-Peer Networks.

Windows 95/98 has most of the software required built in and without anything more than the drivers provided with network cards, can enable one to set up a peer to peer network sharing any hard disk, floppy disk, CD drive and Printer between any machine. The sharing is set up on each machine at folder or drive level and can be set to read and/or write and, if required, can be password protected. On the machines permitted access the Drive or Folder can be mapped to look like any other local drive. The necessary extra tabs and functions become available within the Windows Explorer to set this all up when Networking is installed.

The Network Solution Chosen

Firstly I must remind the reader that the guide is for Painless networking and is intended for home users and small businesses using 2-5 machines including portables. For these users the choice of Peer-to-Peer networking looks obvious - it is cheapest, easiest and adequate for up to 8 or more machines. The real choice is between the hardware. 10-base-T wins over 10-base-2 in flexibility, although the costs are slightly higher because of the hub. The wireless solution is even more expensive and less secure but offers great flexibility and the ability to sit anywhere with a portable is attractive. Internet Connection Sharing can be carried out over such a wireless network. A wireless adapter can be added to an existing network and a mixed system with wireless links to laptops is probably the long term way forwards if you have laptops and such an addition may be considered in a future part of these articles.

3. Installing the Network

The solution chosen for the small firm was a Peer-to-Peer Network using a 10-base-T Ethernet with a 5 or 8 port Hub and UTP cables connecting to the Network cards and using the built in Network software within Windows 95/98 (and Windows XP). I ordered a D-Link D905 2-user network starter kit from Dabs Direct which contained two ISA cards (DE-220) , a hub (DE-805TP) and 5 meter cables. I also ordered a D-Link DE-660 Ethernet PC card for the Toshiba Libretto laptop. This card has an external "dongle" which can connect to 10-base-T (UTP) and 10-base-2 (BNC) networks so I could test everything on my own machines. Both came with drivers on floppy disks. These days the cards would be PCI rather than ISA and the drivers on CD but the principles are the same - I have now done many such installations and in general they have been trouble free although, as in the first example described below, it is always sensible to download and use the latest drivers even if Windows 9x or XP provides default drivers.

Installing the Network hardware

It all seemed very simple in theory but in the event I was very glad I carried out a practice run on my own machines as the instructions that came with the kit from D-Link were very general. The Dell had several spare ISA slots so it was easy to find one which was easily accessible and plug the card in. Many modern machines have more PCI slots than ISA so check you a spare slot - if not PCI cards only cost about £1 more.

D-Link DE-220PT Ethernet ISA card Installation: The card has to be installed into a spare ISA socket and on powering up Windows 95 detected the new card and claimed to have installed drivers when I provided the Windows 95 CD which it requested. On successive reboots however it gave errors with the driver and it showed as unavailable in the Control Panel -> System on the Device Manager Tab. I eventually contacted D-Link and they talked me through reinstalling the device drivers from the floppy. The procedures to ensure you pick up the correct drivers are described in more detail below.

D-Link DE-660CT Ethernet PCMIA card Installation: This proceeded in a similar way to the above although even more care had to be taken to get the correct drivers as I had to copy them to the hard drive first as the Libretto has no permanent floppy - the floppy drive plugs into the only PCMIA slot. I also had to get an updated set of drivers emailed to me from D-Link as it turned out that the Toshiba Libretto and DE-660 combination does not work with the standard drivers. D-Link's technical support were very helpful and there was never any waiting for help.

Checking the Network Adapter Card Installation: As you will have seen above, it is desirable to check that the Network cards are installed correctly and recognised by Windows 95/98. Plug-and-Play was a big step forwards but is far from foolproof. I suggest rebooting the machine a couple of times and making sure that it has finished detecting new hardware and that no error messages show up - it took three times before one of the firms machines before Windows had finished shuffling devices round! Even if it seems to boot up OK it is well worth having a look at the Device Manager information to confirm that Windows is happy with the installation. If it is not the first thing you should do is to update the Drivers with those provided with the Network Adaptor - in any case it is worth updating the drivers as Windows 95/98 may well have installed its own simple default drivers for your adapter when it was detected the first time.

Windows 95/98 Device Information and Updating Drivers: System Device information under Windows 95/98 is accessed in the System icon in the Control Panel on the Device Manager tab. This is where Information on your network card can be found by expanding Network Adapters. Click Here to see what it looks like for me when it has been expanded. If any devices have problems the section will already be expanded and they show up with little yellow ! error icons. Highlighting your Network Adapter and clicking Properties at the bottom will provide three more tabs. If you want to update a Driver you will find the button on the Driver Tab. This starts a Wizard which installs a new Driver. Put the floppy with the handlers in first and be ready with the Windows CD as it will be required. If you are not sure you have picked up the new device handler off the floppy rather than reinstalled the one from Windows 95/98 try again and click "Have Disk" and it should use the Floppy.

Network Software Installation

Windows 95/98 Network Software Installation: All the Network software required should be loaded up from the CD when the Network Cards are installed and detected as new Plug-and Play Hardware. You should find a Network Neighborhood icon on the desktop which displays (with a few clicks) the Network you have just set up. If you already have Dial Up Networking (DUN) installed using the TCP/IP protocol the extra protocols and Bindings will be added to your existing configuration.

Windows 95/98 Network Software Configuration: The Network Configuration is accessed by opening the Network Icon in Control Panel. There are three tabs that you must check and/or configure.

  1. Configuration Tab

    The Configuration Tab has a panel at the top which should show that The Following Components are Installed.

    • Client for Microsoft Networks
    • Your adapter (for the Network card)
    • Dial Up Adapter (Assuming you want Internet access)
    • IPX/SPX compatible Protocol (these may be duplicated and show their "bindings" under some versions of Windows)
    • NetBEUI protocol (these may be duplicated and show their "bindings" under some versions of Windows)
    • TCP/IP protocol (Assuming you want Internet access)
    • File and Print sharing for Microsoft Networks (The sub menu needs the boxes to be ticked)

    If any components are missing:

    • click the Add button On the Configuration tab
    • click Protocol, and then click Add.
    • In the Manufacturers box, click Microsoft,
    • in the Network Protocols box, click The Protocol to add,
    • and then click OK.

    Note: You will sometimes find that duplicate adapters and/or bindings to them have been added by default when you installed the network adapter or during the original configuration of Windows. Select those not required and click Remove

    You must remove any bindings between the TCP/IP protocol (used for internet connections) and anything other than the Dial-Up adapter. If you leave any other TCP/IP bindings in place any files or printers you share over the network can also be accessed whilst you are on-line by Anybody who finds out or guesses your Internet Address.

    • Select the TCP/IP -> Dial Up Adapter (ignore warning!)
    • click Properties
    • go to the Bindings tab
    • Untick the boxes for File and Printer Sharing and Client for Microsoft Network
    • click OK - you will be warned you have no bindings which is exactly what you want!

    The Network Log On needs to be set to Client for Microsoft Networks on the drop down menu

    Click here to see what the Configuration Tab looks like on my machine in the original configuration.

    File and Printer Sharing needs to be enabled using the File and printer Sharing button at the bottom. Click here to see what it looks like on my machine.

    Quick Logon: It is worth taking the time to check one more option at this point. Highlight Client for Microsoft Networks in the panel and click Properties. This will give you a tab which provides the choice of a Quick logon or a full logon. Check the Quick logon box otherwise you will find that you need to have all the network machines turned on at the start when you Map drives.

    The configuration above needs a couple of changes if you intend to add, or already have a machine running Windows XP

    1. Remove the NetBEUI protocol as it is not supported under XP by Selecting NetBEUI on the Configuration tab and clicking Remove.

    2. Add NetBios support over IPX/SPX instead.
      • Select IPX/SPX compatible protocol and click Properties
      • on the Netbios Tab tick the box I want to enable NEtBios over IPX/SPX
      • Click OK

    Click here to see what the Configuration Tab looks like on my machine when configured for XP.

    The configuration of the XP machine(s) is very different and is covered in Painless Networks part II - Windows XP  

  2. Identity Tab

    It is very important to set up the Identity tab.

    • Computer name: You need to specify the Computer Name, which your machine will be known on the Network and clearly identifies it to everyone. (EG DELL200, DESKTOP, LIVINGROOM or LAPTOP). For maximum future compatibility restrict yourself to 12 letters, preferably in upper case, and numerals.
    • Workgroup: It is essential that you specify a Workgroup - (EG Home, Office or any appropriate name). For maximum future compatibility restrict yourself to 12 letters, preferably in upper case, and numerals.
      • The Workgroup name must be the same for all the machines on the Network otherwise you will not see the others.
    • Computer Description: The computer description needs to be filled in. (EG Dell Dimension XPS P120c)

    Click Here to see what I my set up looks like.

  3. Access Tab

    • Check the "Share-level access control" box

    Click Here to see.


Using the Network

4. Making Resources Available

Sharing resources: Choosing "Share-Level Access control" when we set up the software in Control Panel -> Network means that when one now looks at the Properties of any Drive, Folder, File or Printer (Right Click on name and click Properties) an extra tab marked Sharing will be available - Click for Example.

Accessing Resources

There are a number of ways that one can access resources from another machine once they have been made available by sharing.


The first part of this guide has been around a long time. The results have stood the test of time and I and others have set up many simple networks on Windows 95, Windows 98 and Windows XP machines very quickly and without hassle or problems. Other parts are, by definition, less mature and any feedback and comments by sending me a quick message would be appreciated.

A Guide to Painless Networks | Extra considerations when using Windows XP | ADSL Broadband | Microsoft Internet Connection Sharing Software | ADSL Wi-Fi Router Firewalls

Home page | Pauline's Pages | Howto Articles | Uniquely NZ | Small Firms | Search

Copyright © Peter and Pauline Curtis
Original: 7th October 2000
Content revised - XP compatibility and ICS: 1st July 2003
Content revised - WiFi and developing standards: 24th September 2004
Click for larger image