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Peer to Peer Networking in Windows

Peer to Peer Networking in Windows

Today, we’re going to be talking about peer to peer networking in different versions of Windows. We’ll start with XP. Please keep in mind that this tip is only for people who have XP Professional, Windows 98 or 95. It is also for advanced users only who have some experience with networking.

To begin, Windows XP’s peer to peer networking capability is based on the following functionality:

In other words, it’s called peer to peer networking, but one computer in the network is eventually made superior to the others. While all computers are capable of sharing folders and printers, the “mothership” computer (a user workstation) is designated to host the Internet firewall configuration. Windows XP does this by creating a separation zone between the network interfaces (i.e. NIC cards) on the mothership computer. It’s here that the built in firewall capability provides basic network address translation (NAT) that effectively prevents shared resources from being visible on the Internet. Granted, this firewall capability may not meet everyone’s needs, but at least it’s available. I don’t blame you if you seek out a more robust hardware based firewall to increase your security comfort level though.

Stepping Into Peer to Peer

So, let’s get going. I assume you have Windows XP Professional in front of you. Note that the Windows XP Home Edition does not support this peer to peer network functionality.

Make sure you resolve the network interface connectivity before proceeding to a connection method.

Note: For the first computer you set up (which typically acts as the “mothership” of the peer to peer network), you should click “This computer connects directly to the Internet” radio button. For the computers that you set up thereafter (second, third, fourth, etc.), select the second radio button, which says that another computer is already hosting and managing the Internet connection.

Configuring the Internet Connection

Establishing the Routed Connection Between Local Computers and the Internet

Go ahead and select the network interface that applies to your local area network.

You have now created the mothership machine on the peer to peer network. Next, you will configure a client computer (any other client computers you add to the peer network will be configured in a similar manner). This is easily accomplished by running the wizard on the other Windows XP Professional computers and again, in step 8 (see image #3), you will select the second radio button. You would then complete the screens that follow asking for network naming information.

In Windows 98:

Here are the requisites for Windows 98. You need these things before you can begin.

To create a peer network, follow these steps for each computer connected to the network.

1. Shut down the computer and install the network card and appropriate cabling for each computer.

Note: For information about how to configure your network adapters and how to physically connect your computers, consult the documentation included with your network adapters or contact the manufacturer of your network adapters.

2. Start Windows and install the network drivers. Windows may detect your network card and install the drivers when you start the computer. If the network card drivers are not included with Windows, follow the manufacturer’s instructions about how to install the network drivers.

3. Choose a client and a common protocol for each computer. To do this, follow these steps:

a. Click Start, point to Settings, click Control Panel and then double click Network.
b. Click Add, click Client and then click Add again.
c. In the “Manufacturers” box, click the appropriate manufacturer, click the appropriate client in the “Network Clients” box, and then click OK.
d. Click Add, click Protocol and then click Add.
e. In the “Manufacturers” box, click the appropriate manufacturer, click the appropriate protocol in the “Network Protocol” box, and then click OK.
f. Follow the instructions to finish installing the network client and protocol.

4. Configure a peer server. Each computer that is configured for File and Printer Sharing can act as a server. To configure a computer for File and Printer Sharing, use the following steps:

a. Click Start, point to Settings, click Control Panel and then double click Network.
b. Click File and Print Sharing, click one or both options to share files and printers, click OK twice.
c. Click Yes when you are prompted to restart your computer.

5. Give each computer a unique computer name. To do this, use the following steps:

a. Click Start, point to Settings, click Control Panel and then double click Network.
b. On the Identification tab, type a unique name in the “Computer name” box.
c. Click OK and then click Yes when you are prompted to restart your computer.

Note: The computer name must be unique for each computer on the network and should be no more than 15 characters in length. In small networks, the workgroup name should be the same for each computer so that all computers are visible in the same workgroup when browsing. You should not use spaces or the following characters in computer and workgroup names: / \ * , . ” @

In Windows 95:

Now, for this section, I am assuming that each computer has a network adapter installed and that your computers are connected together properly using a network cable. For information about how to configure your network adapters and how to physically connect your computers, consult the documentation included with your network adapters or contact the manufacturer(s) of your network adapters.

After the physical connections are made, use the Add New Hardware tool in the Control Panel to detect your network adapter. Once the network adapter is set up, follow these steps to make sure the correct network components are installed:

1. Use the right mouse button to click Network Neighborhood and then click Properties on the menu that appears.

2. On the Configuration tab, make sure that at least the following network components are installed:

3. Click File and Print Sharing, click the appropriate check boxes to select them and then click OK.

4. On the Identification tab, enter a name for your computer and your workgroup and then click OK.

Note: The computer name must be unique for each computer on the network and should be no more than 15 characters in length. In small networks, the workgroup name should normally be the same for each computer so that all computers are visible in the same workgroup when browsing. Avoid using spaces and the following characters in computer and workgroup names: / \ * , . ” @

5. Restart your computer when you are prompted to do so.

There you have it, directions for setting up a peer to peer network for various versions of Windows!

~ Ramachandran Kumaraswami