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Networking Assistance

By Buzzy65 ยท 22 replies
Jun 2, 2003
  1. I want to set-up a home network between my 2 computers to share my DSL. PC#1 is a Dell 4550, XP, P4:2ghz,256mb: PC#2 is an Acer Aspire,WIN98,P233MMX,128mb. Each has a network card. I would like information and recommendations on the type of router, cables, and other items I may need.
    Thanks in advance for any assistance.
  2. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 5,734   +8

    Just connect the two network cards together using a crossover cable, or if you are wanting to do a nice job, use straight through cables and a hub. The crossover cable is used when there is no hub. If you are going to the bother of cabling your house, use straight through cables because that will give you more flexibility, but you will need a hub.

    You could start with a small 5 port hub, which will cost next to nothing. It will have connectors called RJ45 on it. Don't plug anything into the uplink port.

    The type of cable you want to get made up for you is called cat 5 UTP. UTP means unsheilded, twisted pair. It should have a solid core, not a threaded one. The connectors are called RJ45.

    This is common as muck, so any high street PC store worth its salt should know exactly all of this right away, and will advise much the same thing if he knows his *** from his elbow.

    The machine which has the DSL connector is your server, as we shall call it. It is going to do a thing called Network Address Translation, where is it going to act as a kind of a carrier - in a very crude term - for packets from other machines on your home LAN. You create this by doing the following:-

    Open Network and Dial Up connections in control panel, open icon for DSL connection with right click and properties. There should be a sharing tab. Enable sharing. Reboot all machines.

    In your home, connect all computers together by plugging cables into the network cards, and then connecting the other end of all cables into the hub, so that you make a kind of star arrangement with the hub as the centre, and the cables going out to the PCs like spokes on a wheel.

    The hub is the central, focal point where all of the machines join and get to talk to eachother.

    With the internet connection sharing enabled, your server machine with the DSL connection will act as a kind of a gateway to the internet on behalf of your machines on your local, home LAN.

    Good luck.
  3. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 5,734   +8

    Oh, the hub can be located anywhere you like physically, so long as you stick to the arrangement I outlined above.

    Obviously, you want to locate it where you have concentrated all of your computing equipment, like your office with your two PCs, etc. But its possible to do whatever you like, really, provided that you stick to what I have said above. You could have internet capable devices all over your home no problem, but then think hard about where it would be best to physically situate the hub and all of the other equipment sensibly as well.
  4. Buzzy65

    Buzzy65 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks! I am going to give it a shot tonight. Appreciate your help.
  5. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 5,734   +8

    Best of luck!
  6. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 5,734   +8

    Oh, I forgot to mention that you need TCP/IP installed as a protocol for all machines on your network, however they should have that by default. Just make sure that they have "obtain an IP address automatically" ticked. When you enable internet connection sharing, and internal service inside that server machine will kick in and dynamically configure TCP/IP settings on your home LAN.
  7. Nic

    Nic TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,549

    There is a slightly easier/better way to do this (I've just done the same thing myself). Get a Cable/DSL Router such as a Linksys BEFSX41. Connect the router to your DSL. Connect all PCs to your router. They will now all be networked and you won't need to have your 'DSL server' PC running just to connect to the web, and it won't need two network cards either. Any PC connected to your router will also be connected directly to the internet. Oh, and the Linksys BEFSX41 also has a built-in firewall and VPN connection and is cheap.
  8. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 5,734   +8

    Well, yeah you can use a home networking kit, of course. I would disagree that's its necessarily better, or even easier as I can't think of anything much easier than right clicking an icon, choosing properties and then ticking a box, but each to his own. Certainly these kinds of kits are popular and probably very useful for someone with very little networking experience.

    You would still need to get some cables made up, though, I should imagine. There would be some cables supplied with the router, however I don't think they would be very long.
  9. Nic

    Nic TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,549

    I wasn't talking about a home network kit. I only mentioned a Cable/DSL Router. You only need to connect your cables and you're done. No right-clicking required, only the PC that is in use needs to be switched ON, and only one network card in each PC is required. Simple and cheap. This is ideal for a small home network, though I guess business networks are more likely to be configured in the way you already mentioned.

    PS: Does this mean that I am now a Guru? No need to answer, I guess I am still a Dumb *** as I still have much more to learn. Live long and prosper. :)
  10. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 5,734   +8

    I would for lots of cases recommend host based routing (my plan) for home networking.

    Some ISPs refuse to support the use of a cable / DSL router, and will refuse to deal with your problem until its been removed from the equation.

    They don't like Network Address Translation either (my plan) but its much less detectable or likely to effect the setup as a cable router is. If you have internet connection problems with NAT, you can just tell the ISP only about the server's connection, as if it were your only machine.

    With proper port forwarding, and so forth, its possible to do just about everything you can do using my model with the cable routers, however this can be a pain. Its far better IMHO to use a host based router by using Windows 2000 internet connection sharing, as you will have far fewer problems hosting internet games on your own system, and also should have far fewer problems troubleshooting remote access to your home network.

    Using windows internet sharing based routing on your home network gives you the flexibility to run various services like remote desktop connection over the internet (so you can control your home PC from your office, for example), without any of the hassles of configuring a third party cable router for port forwarding.

    However, as Nic says, if you buy one of these devices, you should be up and running just about instantly. However, I would put it to you that fitting a couple of NICs and clicking two or three buttons is pretty instant too.

    In either model, you will gain versitility in some areas, but sacrifice it in others. IMHO, in the final analysis using the Windows NAT is far better than the dedicated router. But both plans do have merit.
  11. Nic

    Nic TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,549

    I knew I'd tease some more useful info from you P66. Very interesting comments, and I'll bear it in mind as I learn more about networking. I only got my router about a week ago and set up my first home network. Don't know how I ever managed without.
  12. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 5,734   +8

    Oh some people swear by these kinds of devices. And I have thought of the idea a few times. However, as you get to utilise your broadband connection more, you will realise (if you have fast internet access somewhere else as well, like work) that your abilities to be REMOTELY CONNECTED TO are just as useful as your ability to download big files relatively quickly, play games faster, etc.

    For instance, how would you like to be able to remotely connect to your home computer from your work, check the progress of your downloads, start up other downloads, etc???

    Wouldn't that kick ***?

    Well, you will have a lot less of a pain if you use a server to share your connection, not a router. You have a machine capable of thousands more functions sitting at the edge of your LAN.

    It can be a web server. It can be an FTP server. It can host internet games. Its possible to configure your router to get some of these things working, sure. But its not as versitle.

    HOWEVER... your router will doubtlessly have pretty tight security, more or less for a consumer level device for the home like that. It will have firewalling capabilities in the form of some kind of dynamic port opening and closing, access control lists even, that sort of thing.

    If you DON'T have a cable router type device, remember to keep your server up to date with security fixes and patches from the site!

    You can read about a lot of the security fixes available for windows from our front page.

    You should also think about some kind of software firewall program, at least like zone alarm.

    I have spoken a lot about the desire to make your broadband connection more versitile with a server, but remember that more services means more security problems.

    For the security minded person who doesn't feel they are too technical, and who doesn't mind loosing some very interesting broadband abilities, the router is the way to go. Its easy to set up and has a lot of security features and so forth which make it a good product for the home.
  13. Buzzy65

    Buzzy65 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Interesting reading from both of you, Thanks. Now, Since I can not find a crossover cable in town over 25 ft ( I need about 40), i have to wait till one comes in. In the interim, I have read your posts, and I have also talked with my I.T. guys at work about setting up my network. I am getting some conflicting information regarding setting up the network. One guy says to use a crossover cable, I will need 2 cards in each computer, and that this type of networking will only provide me with file sharing capabilities. It is my hope that I have file and print sharing, and DSL sharing. However, will a crossover cable type network diminish my DSL serviceg? Will a router type connection provide me with better DSL service for both PC's?
    Again, all help is greatly appreciated.
  14. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 5,734   +8

    No, a cross over cable is used to connect two LIKE DEVICES, like two network cards - one in one machine and one in another, for example.

    Straight through cables are used between differing devices, like network cards to hubs, etc.

    Beyond a very simple difference in wiring, the two are almost identical. But because of the difference, they are used in just slightly differing circumstances.

    If anyone told you differently, then they are a COMPLETE ***** AND DO NOT KNOW WHAT THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT. Sorry to shout, but I hate disinformation. If I am not sure about something, I will let you know of that fact. Whoever told you some of that information above either didn't explain it correctly, or didn't know, or you misunderstood. Sorry.

    To clarify further, a server sharing your internet connection will provide the ability to do a lot more things, most of which involve others on the internet connecting to you in certain ways, like you hosting some kind of service. For example, if you wanted to host an internet game, rather than join in on one. (Can be done with the router - probably - if you really muck about!)

    Best way to understand the situation is this - You must share the internet connection with some device, its up to you whether that's a PC or a dedicated router. The router will be easier to configure, but it will not be as intelligent as the PC. The PC sharing the connection will have special, extra abilities TO BE CONNECTED TO over the internet that the other machines on your home network will not. If you use the router, you will give up this special ability, and ALL of your PCs will have the same limited ability to be CONNECTED TO. The special abilities of one machine - the PC server which currently has the DSL connection - will be lost."
  15. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,742   +419

    I would think if your store has cables long enough that are straight they could cut off one end for you and change the wiring to make it crossover, they should have the crimpers and ends.
  16. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 5,734   +8

    ...and, of course, with the PC sharing that connection, you have to put some security in place for that machine. The router has it built in. For the PC you should download zone alarm at least.
  17. Buzzy65

    Buzzy65 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    OK. So, 2 computers, each with a network card, 1 crossover cable, a couple of right clicks, some IP addresses, spinkle some pixie dust, drink a few beers, burn some incense, and this thing should work?
  18. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 5,734   +8

    Oh, and before you go wiring the place up, make the LAN work in your computer room, or whatever, or where you have the machine with the DSL. Make sure that everything works and that you are comfortable with the concept of networking them together. Ensure that you are comfortable and clear with the process of plugging everything in and checking that everything works.

    Do this BEFORE you run any cable in your home, lift any carpets - anything. Assemble the networking equipment in one room and make the equipment work first.

    Best of luck.
  19. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 5,734   +8

    If you are comfortable with the concepts of what you are doing, yes. Its really not that more complicated than that to set up your own home LAN. A lot of attention has been made in Windows to ensure that sharing an internet connection or networking two computers together properly is done almost automatically.

    One of the reasons that Bill Gates is the richest man is because he has brought this kind of thing to people. Please believe me when I say that this is not hard. I have such a system at home, whether I have a client and server machine, where the server is the gateway to the internet. The server is used for hosting internet games, downloading media, etc. The client is for playing on. I can play with it to my heart's content and not interupt my downloads, etc. Making your home PC act as a router is a very cool thing that Windows can do very quickly and easily.
  20. Buzzy65

    Buzzy65 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    That is sound advice. Since I may be going thru the floor and back up in another room. Thanks!!
  21. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 5,734   +8

    If you share the DSL connection in the way I have described, and have the network cards (both in server and in clients) all connected together on your little home LAN, then you don't even need to worry about IP addressing. The default is for automatic allocation and I only made mention of it to pre-emptively clarify a possible issue, that DHCP or automatic IP address allocation is enabled.

    That's the beauty of TCP/IP - its so full of functions and yet under certain circumstances it can be made to really behave itself and self configure itself very easily. NAT (technology used to share the internet connection) is great as well about being fairly auto-configuring. At least, in the way Microsoft have implemented it, yes. They've built in an automatic DHCP allocator and all of the other goodies that you need to get everything behaving itself, and all you have to do in Windows 2000 or XP is just tick a box...!!!
  22. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 5,734   +8

    Yeah, get all of this home LAN stuff working LONG BEFORE you start cabling your house. Make sure that it works. Make sure that you can surf the internet on the client machine(s) which are not the server, and that all is well there. Understand the concepts that you are trying to impliment before you start to drill holes all over the place and wind up feeding the wrong cable.

    I would use straight through cable and a hub - PLEASE - if you are going through a wall or a floor or something. Don't use straight through cable - buy a small hub and use that. You might want to add more internet connected devices, and the crossover cable will really only let you connect one device getting a share of the connection at once - unless you use the uplink port on the hub. But only cable a straight through - yeah, definately. Unless for some reason you can't get a cheap hub and want to make all of this work RIGHT NOW.
  23. obsideo

    obsideo TS Rookie

    I'm thinking of removing my NetGear RT311 router from my network at themoment.
    My network is basically as described above but rather than a hub I have two 5 port switches. Will ICN and everything you guys just talked about work the same with an auto-sensing switch? (using straight-thru cabling as well).
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