Networking Basics
To install a network in your home, there are three steps:
  1. Choose the technology you will use for the network. The main technologies to choose between are standard Ethernet, phone-line-based, power-line-based and wireless. There are other technologies that exist, such as Token Ring and FDDI, but they are not recommended for use in a home network unless you already have extensive experience with that particular technology.
  2. Buy and install the hardware.
  3. Configure the system and get everything talking together correctly.

Step 3 is extremely important. It is also very educational -- if you understand the configuration process, you understand everything a home network is capable of doing for you. Some of the home-networking kits include an installation CD that makes configuration very easy.

The program will take you through each step of naming the computer, sharing files, sharing printers and sharing an Internet connection. But if you have problems, or if your kit does not include a configuration program, you'll need to know how to set it up manually. To assist you with setting up your network, we'll discuss the following tasks, which apply no matter which networking technology you choose:

  • Naming the PC
  • Sharing files
  • Sharing printers
  • Security
  • Sharing an Internet connection
Once you understand these tasks, you'll understand just what your new network can do!

Naming the PC
Before your computer can become part of a network, it has to have a name and a workgroup. Each computer in your home network needs to have a different name, and they all need to be in the same workgroup.

Here's how you can name your PC and create a workgroup:

  1. In Windows 98/ME, move the mouse pointer over the Network Neighborhood icon on the desktop and click the right mouse button once.
  2. Select Properties from the menu. The Network Properties window will pop up, listing information about the network adapter(s) and protocols installed on that computer.
  3. When the window opens, click the Identification tab. You will see three boxes (as shown above).
  4. In the first box, enter the name you wish to give the computer. You can name it anything, but each computer in your home must have a its own unique name.
  5. In the second box, enter the name you plan to use for the workgroup -- make sure all of the computers have the same workgroup name. You may want to write it down to make sure that you enter the exact same workgroup name on each computer in your network.

Now that we've got names and a workgroup, let's move on to file sharing.