With the cost of PC’s dropping and the number of home users increasing, it has become more and more reasonable to have a home network. Many families now have more than one PC to suit the growing needs of the home user, but many feel setting up a network is too daunting or overwhelming to attempt.
Fret not. You, too, can set up your own network fairly easily and inexpensively. Wired or wireless, it’s easier than ever to get connected.
New Life for an Old PC
Let’s start by discussing how you can use that old PC you may have lying around. Perhaps you just purchased the most state-of-the art PC with the fastest processor, tons of disk space, and enough memory to last you a lifetime. So now what do you do with the old one?
Sure, you can donate it, but reusing that old PC can add a lot of functionality to your computing experience. Besides, it feels good to keep hard to recycle items out of our landfills.
There are a few things you need to do in order to prepare that PC for its new use.
Remove Unneeded Programs. If you don’t intend to run any applications from your “new server”, remove every application you don’t intend to use. Simply go to the Control Panel, select Add/Remove Programs and delete everything you don’t need.
Clean Up The Hard Drive. Get rid of temporary files, browser cache, and anything else you don’t need that will free up disk space. PC World has a great article on how to Reclaim Hard-Drive Space.
Install a Network Card. If the machine doesn’t have a network adapter, you will need to install one. You can get one at almost any computer accessory retailer for about $15. To install the card, you must take precautions. First, turn the PC off and unplug the machine. You will need to remove the cover to find an empty PCI slot so avoid static damage by wearing an antistatic wrist strap while working inside your PC. Find a free PCI slot and remove the cover. Carefully insert the network card and use a screw to fasten it down.
When you start up the machine, Windows should detect the card. To install the drivers, follow the directions that come with your network card.
Put It To Use
Now that you have your PC set up for networking, you can use it as a file server, print server or to share an Internet connection. No one likes to fight over the only computer with Internet access, or being kicked off so someone else can use the printer. Not to mention the hassle of running back and forth to transfer files. Use the steps below to implement your own file server, print server, and shared Internet access.
To use that old PC as a simple file server, all you really need is hard drive space. If you have 20GB or more, that should be enough to use it for simple file sharing and backup. However, if you want to store a lot of files or share and store digital media, you may want to consider adding a second, larger capacity hard drive.
Enable File Sharing. Depending on your Operating System, right click the icon Network Neighbourhood or My Network Places on your desktop, then choose Properties. Then, for Windows 2000 or XP, right click the Local Area Connection, select Properties, and check File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks. For Windows 98 or ME, click the File and Print Sharing button and select I want to be able to give others access to my files and click OK. Then restart your PC.
Share The Drive(s). Now you just need to enable sharing on the drive you want to share, so, double click the My Computer icon on your desktop. Then, right click the icon for the drive or folder you wish to share and select Sharing. Then just follow the instructions on your screen to set up sharing. you can select to share full access, read-only access, or password protected access. Do the same thing for any other drive you wish to share.
Enabling printer sharing is very similar to the setup for file sharing.
First, install the printer. Simply follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installing your printer and be sure all drivers have been installed.
Enable Print Sharing. In the steps above, you have already enabled File Sharing. For those of you with Windows 98 or ME, follow the directions in Step 1 above and also check I want to be able to allow others to print to my printer in the dialog box. Restart your PC.
Share The Printer. Again, depending on what Operating System you are using, go to your printer folder. For Windows XP, select Start > Printers and Faxes. For Windows 98, ME, or 2000, select Start > Settings > Printers. Right click the printer icon you wish to share and choose Sharing. Then just follow the instructions from there.
Share That Internet Connection
Now that you have your server set up, you can also use it to share an Internet connection.
Install a Modem and/or Additional Network Card. If you are using a dial-up connection, you will need to install a modem if one is not already installed on the server PC. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installing the modem. If you use a broadband connection, the network card you installed when setting up your network will work fine. You will need a second network card for the cable or DSL modem, unless you have a USB broadband modem.
Setup Internet Connection Sharing.
For Windows 98 or ME users, go to Add/Remove Programs in the Control Panel and select the Windows Setup tab. For 98, double click Internet Tools or for ME, double click Communications. Select Internet Connection Sharing, click OK and run the Internet Connection Sharing Wizard or Home Networking Wizard. For Windows 2000 and XP users, right click the My Network Places icon on your desktop and select Properties. Right click the broadband modem connection and select Properties. For Windows 2000, click the Sharing tab and check Enable Internet Connection Sharing for this connection. For XP users, click the Advanced tab and select Allow other network users to connect through this computer’s Internet connection.
Voila! You now have your own home network. Congratulations!
Manage Your Home Network
Now that you have your own home network, we can help you make it a little easier to manage. Micro 2000 has made available a 5-seat version of RemoteScope for home users who want to manage their networks of up to 5 PC’s from a remote location. It can be a hassle, not to mention time consuming, making sure each PC has been defragged, backed up, or had the latest virus updates installed. If you’d like to be able to manage each of your PC’s from one machine, you can. Remotely control each PC, deploy applications and patches, set up back ups and defrag tasks, or help keep your kids protected online with the monitoring feature. To find out more about RemoteScope’s features visit RemoteScope Network Management.
Disclaimer – The Micro 2000 Tech Tip is a free service providing information only. While we use reasonable care to see that this information is correct, we do not guarantee it for accuracy, completeness or fitness for a particular purpose. Micro 2000, Inc. shall not be liable for damages of any kind in connection with the use or misuse of this information.
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