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Peer to Peer Networking in Windows

Posted By On June 16, 2006 @ 2:59 PM In System Tune-Up Help | Comments Disabled

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:

  • A physical network that connects all computers
  • Folder sharing
  • Printer sharing
  • Sharing level permissions
  • Workgroup networking model (not domain)
  • Basic Internet firewall

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.

  • Click Start, Control Panel, Network Connections.
  • Select the Set up a home or small office network link under Network Tasks on the left side.
  • The Network Setup Wizard screen will appear. Click Next.
  • The “Before you continue” screen appears listing the steps that will be completed. Click the checklist for creating a network link. The result is shown in the picture given below.

  • When you’re done looking through it, go ahead and close that window.
  • Now, click Next on the “Before you continue screen.”
  • If the wizard finds disconnected networking interfaces, you’ll see the screen given below, entitled The Wizard found disconnected network hardware. You’ll need to connect the network interfaces or select the Ignore disconnected network hardware checkbox to continue. Once you’ve resolved this problem, click Next.

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

  • The “Select a connection method” screen appears. Here you will select from three connection options (see example in image below). Make your selection and click Next.

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.

  • On the “Select your Internet connection” screen, select the network connection that relates to the Internet under Connections and click Next. You must make a selection or the Next button will remain grayed out.

Configuring the Internet Connection

  • Your computer has multiple connections, so this part is very important for both Internet connectivity and firewall issues (see image below). Its here you begin to assist the wizard by defining the “inside” network adapter (local area network) and the “wild-side” network adapter (Internet connection). Make the appropriate selection and click Next. In my case, I selected “Let me choose the connections to my network.”

Establishing the Routed Connection Between Local Computers and the Internet

  • Continuing with my example, because of the selection I made, the “Select the connections to bridge” screen appears. This is shown in the picture below. Make the connection selection and click Next.

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

  • Complete the Computer description and Computer name fields on the “Give this computer a description and name screen” (similar to the picture below) and click Next.


  • Complete the Workgroup name field on the “Name your network” screen and click Next. (See picture below).


  • Review your settings on the “Ready to apply your network settings” screen and when everything is set correctly, click Next.



  • Click Finish after the configuration process is completed.

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.

  • A network interface or Local Area Network (LAN) adapter for each computer. The same manufacturer and model of network card is preferred.
  • Cabling that is supported by the network cards.
  • Windows 98 drivers for the network cards.
  • A common network protocol.
  • A unique computer name for each computer.

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:

  • Client: Client for Microsoft Networks (if you do not have a Novell
    NetWare server, you do not need to install the Client for NetWare networks).

  • Adapter: This should be the network adapter detected by the Add New
    Hardware Wizard.

  • Protocol: Choose at least one of the following:
    • NetBEUI: Best for small networks where routing does not take place.
    • IPX/SPX: Compatible Protocol Used by Novell NetWare networks; best for small to large networks where routing takes place.
    • TCP/IPL: The default protocol used by the World Wide Web; best for any size network where routing takes place.
    • Service: File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks.

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


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