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SOHO Sharing
February 2003

Shane Hicks is an independent consultant and technical trainer, providing support to individuals and small businesses. He's been in the industry for over 10 years.

Email your questions, it will be answered as space permits.

Iíve got a small home office with four computers. The computers are Windows XP Professional, Windows 2K Professional, Windows ME, and Windows 98. I use a cable modem for Internet access. The modem is connected to a Linksys router, and the router is connected to an 8-port switch. The computers are all connected to the switch.

Iíd like all computers to have Internet access.

Iíd like to share files on all computers. Presently, I have no problems with Windows 2000 seeing Windows XP, or Windows 98 or ME seeing each other. However, I donít believe they see all the shares. Sometimes, Iím told I donít have permissions to a share. I havenít set passwords and donít want to since security isnít an issue.

Finally, I have an Epson printer on the Windows XP machine. I want all the other computers to use this printer. I used the Printer wizard to install a network printer on the remote machines, but the Epson doesnít show up. I called Epson and they told me the printer is not designed as a network printer.



Wow! Thereís a lot going on in your SMALL office. However, letís take one step at a time and make this all work.

Internet access: 
Each machine requires an IP address. Use your Linksys router to provide automatic IP addresses to your computers (it does so by default). Simply connect the components as you outlined: modem to router, router to switch, and switch to computers. Turn everything on and it should plug-and-play.

To get on the network, each computer requires three things: a network adapter, client software, and a protocol. Verify these settings in the Network Properties on each machine. By installing a network card with appropriate drivers, you install the adapter. Generally, Client for Microsoft Networks is then installed by default. Finally, configure TCP/IP as the ONLY protocol. Using additional protocols (like NetBEUI or IPX/SPX) will slow performance. TCP/IP is required for the Internet and provides all the other connections needed as well. By default, TCP/IP looks to obtain an IP address automatically (from your router, in this case).

File Shares: 
There are minor differences in how Win98/ME and Win2K/XP provide access to shares. The first time you run Win98/ME, assuming the Windows Family Logon is selected in Network Properties, you are asked for a password. By providing a password, the default user name (entered during installation) is associated with this password. These credentials are used to access network shares after each restart. (To change these credentials, log off as the default user and enter a new name and password.) Win2K/XP requires a user name to logon, though each can be set to use a blank password (or even no password for XP). If security is not an issue, a common user account can be set (like Administrator) with the same password on all machines. Give this account access to all shared resources. As long as the logged on user account matches an account with permissions on the remote machine, access will be granted.

Finally, letís fix the Epson printer problems. Having followed the steps above, the printer should now appear to be available to you in the Printer installation wizard. However, since the drivers for Windows 98 and ME are different than those for Windows 2000 or XP, you will need to install the drivers for all of these operating systems onto the machine where the printer is physically attached. You accomplish this by installing the printer on the local computer, and then going into the property settings of that printer. Click on sharing, then on additional drivers. Here you can see that you can add drivers for Windows 2000 or XP (when they are the same), Windows 95/98/ME, or Windows NT or 2000 (when they are different then drivers for XP). Provide the appropriate driver disk or set of installation files at the prompt, and the drivers will be installed on the serving computer. When you run the installation wizard from the other machines, the appropriate drivers will be downloaded from the Windows XP computer and installed on the remote machine. You will then be able to print across the network.

Hopefully, all of your computers are up and running as needed at this point. If not, this is what we do for a living, so give me a call ó and Iíll get someone right out to you! Until next month, I wish you safe and healthy computing. . .

By the way, Iíd like to give a nod to fellow Alamo PC contributor and long-time advertiser, B. J. and Associates. I had a notebook computer problem over the last week and went to several local computer shops to get assistance. After being treated poorly by several (with one trying to get me to pay for non-functional parts), I found my way to B. J. and Associates. Not only did they help me identify the proper parts that I needed to bring the laptop back to life, but they were exceptionally civil and professional ó an excellent example of fine customer service. I wish to give special recognition to Lydia McCloskey, for her help and support, and hope to be able to do business with her in the near future.

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