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Creating a Home Network : Setting Up a Wired Network with an ICS Host

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12/30/2012 4:13:09 PM

1. Acquiring and Installing Network Hardware

Now that you know what you need to network two or more computers, you need to purchase and install networking hardware. There's little I can do to help you with that, except give you a couple quick pointers:

  • If you're not too keen on opening the computer case and installing things inside the computer, consider getting hardware that connects to the computer via USB ports. Typically, you just plug the devices in, and you're done.

  • If you'll be adding a notebook to the network, you'll probably want a PC Card NIC (not to be confused with a PCI card, which goes in a motherboard slot inside the computer).

If you're new to all of this and just want to see what some of this stuff looks like, here are some Web sites you can visit. They're all network hardware manufacturers, not retailers:

In terms of actually purchasing the products, you can find these products at any store that sells computer supplies, including many of the large office supply chains such as Staples and OfficeMax. Of course, you can buy the devices online at any Web site that sells computer stuff. Shopping jaunts include Web sites such as www.amazon.com, www.cdw.com, www.cyberguys.com, www.officemax.com, www.staples.com, www.tigerdirect.com, and www.walmart.com, just to name a few.

After you've acquired the hardware, you need to install it. I can't help you much there either. You'll have to follow the manufacturer's instructions on that one, because there is no one-rule-fits-all when it comes to installing hardware. As a general rule of thumb, you'll probably want to:

  • Get the hub or router (if any) set up first.

  • Install the network interface cards second.

  • Connect all the cables last.

Once all the hardware is connected and installed, you're ready to set up the network. That part isn't so complicated because Windows does a great job of searching out networks. You work through that next.

2. After the Hardware Setup

A couple of steps are involved in actually setting up the networking hardware. First, make sure that the hardware you purchased is installed based on the manufacturer's instructions. This may include plugging in the device, then connecting the device to the Internet, and finally plugging in the other computers to the device. When this is complete, you can run the Set Up a Network Wizard to let Windows finish the process.

Close any open programs and documents before you start configuring your network. The type of network hardware you have set up will determine what configuration you'll need to use. Here's where to look, depending on your network configuration:
  • If you have an Ethernet network, and your modem is inside of, or connected to, one computer in the network, you'll use Internet Connection Sharing (ICS) to share a single Internet account. See the section titled "Setting Up a Wired Network with an ICS Host."

  • If you have a router or residential gateway that all computers in your network connect to, you will not use Internet Connection Sharing. Each computer will have its own direct access to your Internet account via the router. 

  • If you have a wireless network.

  • If you want to set up a Bluetooth personal area network.

Be sure to turn off all computers before you install the networking hardware. Then install all of the networking hardware and turn on all of the computers. Chances are, Windows 7 will detect the hardware and start setting things up automatically. If you see any prompts asking what type of network you're installing, make sure you specify that it's a private network (not a public network). When asked about file sharing, make sure you make choices that allow for file and printer sharing among computers in the private network.

With those buzzwords and tips in mind, let's move on to the specifics of things to do after you get all the network hardware in place and all the computers turned on.

3. Setting Up a Wired Network with an ICS Host

The method for setting up a network described here applies only for a network that's connected by cables (not a wireless network).

The scenario where these instructions do apply is illustrated in Figure 1. Only one computer in the network is connected to the Internet. That computer might have an internal modem that connects directly to a phone or cable jack on the wall. Or, it might have an external modem that connects to that one computer and a wall jack. That same computer uses a separate cable to connect to the network hub.

In such a network, the computer that connects to the wall jack (or modem and wall jack) is the only computer that can access the Internet on its own. We call that computer the Internet Connection Sharing Host, or ICS host for short. You must know, beforehand, which computer has that Internet connection. If you don't, and try to guess your way through it, your network won't work. To play it safe, you should sit down at the computer, and make sure you can get online. Leave that computer online as you configure the ICS host.

3.1. Setting up the ICS host

With all your hardware in place, and your ICS host online, you're ready to start setting up the ICS host. Go to the computer to which the modem is directly connected and log in to a user account that has administrative privileges. Then open the Network and Sharing Center using either of the following methods:

  • Click the Start button and choose Control Panel => Network and Internet => Network and Sharing Center.

  • Tap , type net, and click Network and Sharing Center.

From the Network and Sharing Center follow these steps:

  1. In the left column, choose the Change Adapter Settings link to view all of the available network connections on your computer.

  2. Right-click the icon that represents the Internet connection and choose Properties.

  3. In the Properties window for that connection, click the Sharing tab as shown in Figure 2.

  4. Select Allow Other Network Users to Connect through This Computer's Internet Connection and click OK.

That's it for the computer that's connected directly to the Internet. You'll need to configure the network connection for every computer in your network, as discussed next.

Figure 1. Example of networks with an ICS host.

3.2. Setting up other computers

You need to configure the rest of the computers on your network to use the ICS host connection to the Internet. But first, make sure that you are still online, or can get online, from the ICS host. You want a live Internet connection as you set up other computers in the network. To connect the next system to the Internet, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Control Panel and click View Network Status and Tasks to open Network and Sharing Center.

  2. Click Change Adapter Settings in the left pane.

  3. Right-click the network connection and choose Properties.

  4. On the Networking tab, double-click Internet Protocol Version 4.

  5. Choose Obtain an IP Address Automatically and click OK, then click OK to close the network connection's property sheet.

  6. Click Start => Internet Explorer.

  7. Click Tools => Internet Options to bring up the Internet Options window.

  8. Click the Connections tab and click the LAN Settings button.

  9. Clear check boxes as shown in Figure 3 (you can leave Automatically detect settings checked).

  10. Click OK on all of the open windows.

Figure 2. The Sharing Properties sheet for the ICS host connection.

Figure 3. The LAN settings within Internet Explorer.

Remember, you need to follow the preceding steps for every computer you want connected to the Internet. When you've finished, you should be able to get online from every computer in the network. 
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