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Basic Networking Tutorial

Revised 03-08-2003 11:24 AM GMT -6

Ok, this is a basic networking tutorial.  If you have problems, suggestions, comments, let me know.

Good luck.  Most people get this on the first try, if you don't, don't worry, as I'm always here to help.  Just e-mail me.


Step 1:  Getting the hardware
Step 2:  Installing the hardware
Step 3:  Adding/Configuring "Client for MS Networks"
Step 4:  Adding/Configuring "TCP/IP"
Step 5:  Configuring misc. settings
Step 6:  Rebooting, and using your network


Step 1:  Getting the hardware

Ok, here's a list of what you need:

bulletNetwork Card (1 for each computer)
bulletHub (only for 3 or more computers)
bulletPatch Cable (1 for each computer, but only if using a hub.  If no hub, you only need 1 crossover cable)
bulletWin 9x or higher on each computer (contact me for info on older machines, it can be done just as easily)

You need to decide how much bandwidth that you are going to need.  Most network cards these days are 10/100 meaning that they can go either the 10 megabits per second standard, or the 100 megabits per second standard.  If cost is an issue, you may be able to find some plain old 10baseT cards for extremely cheap, but considering the 10/100 cards are only about $15 a piece, it may be better to buy the faster ones, as you might need that added speed in the future.  

If you decide that you are going to need 3 or more computers on your network, then you need a hub.  A hub is the device that basically hooks all your computers together.  You can find hubs for very cheap, and very expensive.  Generally for small networks, a 4 port, or an 8 port hub is sufficient, but see how many computers you plan to use.  Each computer uses 1 port.  If you are going to buy network cards that support 100baseT, then buy a hub that also supports it, otherwise, you'll only be able to get the 10 megabit speed.  If you have some money lying around, I strongly suggest buying a switch.  What this allows, is for you to have 100 meg cards, and 10 meg cards on the same network without conflicts.  This way, if you have some older machines with older cards, they can still use your faster network.  Perhaps the largest benefit of a switch though, is the increased speed, as traffic is sent only to the intended computer, not all computers hooked into it, as with a hub.  Also, some hubs have an uplink port, which can switch to a regular port.  An uplink port is used to connect 2 hubs together.  (Note, if you buy a hub without an uplink port, no big deal, just use a crossover cable in any of the ports to connect the two)  A hub will cost anywhere from $40 to $100, for a small one.  If you're starting some huge corporation from your home, and you want one with like 100 ports on it, expect to pay around $800 to $1000 for it.  [Unless you're like me and happen to find a 10/100, 120 port ATM switch for $100 :-) ]

Patch cables, are the cables that you plug your network card into the hub with.  If you want to get ambitious, and start permanently running network wire around your house, then you're going to need some cat5 wire (note, I recommend cat5e, as it's cheap [$12.50 at a hardware store] and is of better quality.   You're also gonna need some RJ-45 plugs, and the crimping tool.  Unless you can borrow the tool from someone, expect to pay around $30-50 for it.  The plugs are cheap.  Hardware stores have them, or go to radio shack, they can get them for you.  The easiest way to get started with a network, is just buy some patch cables, and plug them in, and throw your hub on a desk or something.  Note however, that buying already made patch cables is very expensive.  (A 6 foot patch cable may cost you as much as a 100 feet of just plain cable without the ends already on it)

A little note on crossover cables. . .    if you're just using 2 computers,  you can simply plug a crossover cable between the 2 computer's network cards, without using a hub.  If you want to make your own crossover cable, I'll have a diagram later on which wires you need to switch around

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Step 2:  Installing the hardware

Installing your hub is really easy.  Find a shelf, or a desk, and set it somewhere, and plug it into an outlet.

Installing your cabling is easy too.  If you're putting it in your house, and you like to keep your home nice and neat, I'd suggest calling an electrician, or a contractor or something about running it through the walls, because I'm not a very neat person, and I just tack mine to the ceiling, and stuff like that.  :-)  Also, something I didn't mention in the hardware you'd need, if you want to get really neat, you can buy jacks and stuff.  Here's how you put the plugs on the end of your cabling:


note to self, insert pictures and stuff here


If you're simply plugging patch cables in that you bought, just plug them into any port on the hub, and run them to the desks where you have your computers.  (I would say plug them into the network cards, but we haven't installed the cards yet.  lol)

Installing the cards is really easy, all you need is a screwdriver.  Take your computer, and unplug everything from it, and go find a nice clean table to work on.  (I say clean, so you don't lose anything)  Find out how the cover comes off of the computer, and take the screws out to take the cover off.  (Note:  You don't have to take all of the screws out, just the ones that hold the cover on, usually, they're bigger, but not always)  First thing you should to, is touch the power supply.  If you don't know what this is, just touch a metal part on the computer, and take your screwdriver and touch it too.  This is to discharge all the static out of you.  Now, you should see some slots, near the rear of the computer.  Depending on your computer, there could be anywhere from 2, to like 8 or so.  Pick one that your new network card fits into (for reference, the smaller, usually white ones are pci, and the bigger, usually black ones are isa)  It doesn't matter what slot you put it in, just as long as the network card fits into it, it's the right slot.  Attached with screws, are slot covers.  These cover up unused holes in the back of the computer.  You need to take one of these out, where you want to put your network card in.  Just take the screw out, and pull the slot cover out.  Next, take your network card, and fit it into the slot.  I can't see how you could put it in backwards, but just in case, the side with the networking jack goes to the back of the computer.  When putting it straight in, push evenly.  It may, or may not take some force to get it in there.  (Note:  They say that you have to push it evenly so you don't break something, but I always end up wiggling it in there anyway, so if this is what you have to do, then do it.  Just don't wiggle it too much)  Now, it should be fitting in there just fine, and evenly, and there should be a networking jack visible on the back of your computer.  Just take that screw that you took out with the slot cover, and stick it back in, to hold the network card in place.  (The slot cover is now useless to you, but you may want to hang on to it just for the heck of it)  Now, pop the cover back on your computer, put the screws back in, take it back over to your desk, plug it in and turn it on.  If for some oddball reason, that your computer doesn't boot up at all, turn it off, take it back apart, and see what went wrong. 

Ok, when your computer boots up, windows should detect your hardware.  If you have an older, isa type networking card, it probably won't.  In this case, whip out the manual for the network card, and follow it's instructions on installing the drivers for it.  Most of the time, installing the drivers for your card is as simple as popping in the cd that came with it, and pressing ok, but check your manual if you're not sure.  To verify whether the card is installed correctly or not, click start, settings, control panel, double click on network.  If you see your card listed, you're ready for the next stuff.  If not, go back and see what went wrong, and if you get stuck, e-mail me.

Ok, finally, you can plug your patch cables into your computers.

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Step 3:  Adding/Configuring "Client for MS Networks"

"Client for MS Networks" is what windows will use to process logons, and stuff like that.  Basically, the network system you're going to use.  The reason I'm having you use this, and not something else, is because windows comes with this one, and it's pretty simple.  To install, click start, settings, control panel, double click on network.  If you don't see "Client for Microsoft Networks" listed, then click add, click client, click Microsoft on the left, and "Client for Microsoft Networks" on the right, and hit ok.  Now, double click on it.  Make sure logon to domain is UNchecked, and hit ok.

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Step 4:  Adding/Configuring "TCP/IP"

The TCP/IP protocol is the protocol that just about everything uses to communicate.  Internet, chat programs, games, etc.  So, we might as well use it in our network setup.  If you don't already see tcp/ip with an -> pointing to your adapter (If your network card is the only network adapter installed, you may just see plain old tcp/ip rather than the one with the arrow) Click the add button, click on protocol, click add again, select Microsoft on the left, and click on tcp/ip on the right.  Hit Ok.

Now, configuring it.  Double click on it (MAKE SURE it's the one with the arrow pointing to your network card).  You should be on the IP Address tab (towards the top).  Click on specify an IP Address.  An IP Address is basically the address which programs (including client for ms networks) use to find your computer.  There is a special block of ip addresses which you can use for private networking, which cannot be routed over the internet.  (actually, there's a couple of them.)  We're going to use the subnet 10.0.0.  In other words, for the ip address on your first machine, type in  For the one on your second machine, type in, etc.  Don't use the same ip address for more than one computer, otherwise both computers won't have network access.  For subnet, type in on all machines.  Now, hit ok.  [I've had a few people ask why I'm using that subnet mask, and not  The reason is, 10.0.0.x and are not valid because would be the network id for that entire class a block, plus the first subnet.  It works just fine, but isn't up to standards, so I've fixed this.  {If you don't understand all that gibberish, don't worry about it, it's just my sorry attempt to make it look like I really know what I'm doing :-) }]

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Step 5:  Configuring Misc. Settings

Ok, you're almost done.  Assuming you're on the network settings page, click on the file and print sharing button.  Check both boxes, and hit ok.  Where it says Primary Network Logon, choose "Client for Microsoft Networks".  Click on the identification tab up at the top.  Pick a unique computer name for each computer on your network.  Make this something you can remember, and easily identify which computer you're working with, as this is what you'll use to open up files and stuff over the network.  For workgroup, type in "workgroup"  (no quotes).  Why such a generic name?  Well, first of all, it's unlikely that you'll need more than one workgroup for small networks (if you do, just type in something else).  Second of all, using this for a workgroup name makes you just a little bit less noticeable as a potential hacking/cracking target.  This is because, someone who gets bored, and is looking for something to hack, is going to look for something interesting, and easy to get to, not something that isn't setup yet for sharing files and stuff.  (Note:  anything you share on your network IS accessible from the internet, so use passwords)  Finally, where it say description, you can fill in anything you want here, it's not important. 

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Step 6:  Rebooting, and using your network

Ok, you're all done,  hit ok on the network settings dialog, and windows will most likely ask for the cd, and you'll have to reboot.  Now, when your computer boots up, you will be at a logon screen.  If you used to logon to your computer, in some form or another, use the same username and password.  If you haven't logged onto your computer before, just make up a username, and a password if you want.  (No password is necessary)  It doesn't matter what these are, because since you're not using a server, it will accept anything.  Now, if everything goes well, right click on a folder, or a drive in my computer, click on sharing, click on shared as, and hit ok.  Now you've shared something.  Now, go to another computer and double click on network neighborhood.  (sometimes it takes a few seconds for it to start showing computers)  You should see a list of computer names which are on your network.  Just double click on it, and a list of stuff that they have shared will come up.  Just browse these folders just like any other file/folder on your own computer.  If you are tired of waiting on network neighborhood to get it's act together and get a list of computers, you can click start, run, type \\ComputerName and hit enter for the same thing. 

Now, to share a printer, click start, settings, printers, and right click on it and it sharing just like anything else.  To install this printer on another machine, click start, settings, printers, click add printer, and follow the instructions.  (You can also right click on it in network neighborhood, and hit install)

If you want to play games and stuff over your network, you will most likely need to know your ip address.  Well, if you forgot what it was, click start, run, type winipcfg, and hit enter. 

Also note:  Like I mentioned before, put passwords on stuff when you share it, because anything you can see on your home network is visible over the internet

Congratulations, you just completed the basic networking tutorial!  If you have any comments, suggestions, or questions, feel free to e-mail me.

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