Microsoft Windows XP - Configuring Windows XP For Sharing

At the time you install the networking hardware on your computer, Windows XP will automatically set up basic networking functionality behind the scenes, which allow the OS to access a network. It's then up to you to configure XP to share resources using the Network Setup Wizard.

To access the Network Setup Wizard, click Start, and then choose Control Panel. Click on the Network And Internet Connections link, and then click on the Network Connections link. In the Common Tasks panel, click on the Set Up A Home Or Small Office Network link, and the wizard will begin.

Note: If you've switched Windows XP to Classic View (that is, so the dialog boxes, icons, and taskbar look like previous versions of Windows), as we show you how to do in the article "Revert Windows XP to classic Windows," simply double click on the Network Connections icon in the Control Panel, and then, in the Common Tasks Panel, click n the Set Up A Home Or Small Office Network link to begin the wizard.

In the first window you'll see the four tasks for which this wizard is used. The two that we're concerned with for this article are sharing files and folders and sharing printers.

Click the Next button, and you'll see a screen that gives you a few instructions on ensuring that your printers, modems, and other necessary hardware are currently switched on. After you've completed these tasks, click the Next button. In the next window you'll have a few options and it's very important that you pick the correct one.

Select the first option if your computer is connected directly to the Internet (by being connected directly via a modem, cable modem, or through some other method) and you want the other computers on your network to connect to the Internet through this computer. This option is meant to replace hardware solutions such as cable routers (or, as Microsoft calls them, residential gateways).

Select the second option if another computer on the network has been set up to have computers connect to the Internet through it, or if you have a residential gateway. Select the third option, Other, if you're unsure of which option to select. Click Next and you'll see yet another screen with three more options. On this screen of the wizard, select the third option, which states that the computer is connected to a network but not to the Internet.

The option you chose in the previous step will determine which screen comes up after you click Next. In this window, the Computer Description field isn't very important (you can simply type your name followed by computer or laptop, as we have), but the Computer Name field is. This is the name that other computers on your network will need to know to connect to this machine. Make sure to use a name that's a good description of that computer.

Click Next, and you'll then be asked to name your network in the Workgroup Name text box. If you already have a small network set up, you'll want to use whatever workgroup name you already have in place. If not, you'll need to pick a workgroup name. The default is MSHOME, but for security reasons you should change it to something different. Once you've entered a name in the Workgroup Name field, click Next.

You'll then see a screen that summarizes the changes that the wizard is about to make. Simply click Next and the wizard will begin its magic. You'll then see a screen that informs you that "You're almost done..." and you'll be asked how you want to configure other machines on your network. At this point, your best bet is to select the Just Finish The Wizard option button, and cick Next. You'll then see the Completing The Network Setup Wizard screen Click Finish. You've just completed setting up your Windows XP PC for sharing files, folders, printers, and more.

Read the next tip Sharing files with other computers.

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