|MICRO CENTER: COMPUTERS AND ELECTRONICS|
|In The Lab
Networking with Windows Vista
Networking under different operating systems has pretty much the same requirements both in hardware connections and in the network settings you need to communicate. Wired networking is generally easier to configure and troubleshoot, let's start there.
You will need a network cable to connect your computers together or to an appropriate network device such as a network switch or router. If you are just going to connect two computers together, you can use what is called a "crossover" cable that crosses the connections between one computer's transmit wires to the other computer's receive wires. If you have two or more computers to connect, you will require a network hub or switch, and use straight-through network patch cables. If you want all of your systems to be able to share a connection to a cable modem or DSL modem for access to the Internet, then you will also need a router. Many network routers also include a built-in switch feature to let you connect several computers to the local side of the device. If all of this sounds familiar, it could be because I covered it before. We have an Understanding Tech article on Wired LANs that is helpful for working through this portion of the process.
TCP/IP uses a logical address that is associated with the unique MAC address of the adapter. The IP address can either be manually configured in your network properties, or be assigned automatically by a DHCP server that is on the network. Windows adds a third method for the IP address assignment, and that is an "Automatic private IP address" that Windows creates if the properties are configured to obtain one, but fail after a specific time delay. If you are connecting two computers together with a crossover cable, you may want to manually assign two similar (but not identical) IP addresses rather than let Windows make them up. A standard feature of most routers is to provide DHCP services to assign a unique IP address to each device as it is detected on the network. This helps prevent conflicts from having two adapters using the exact same address.
As I mentioned before, we have several different articles, demos, and handouts that cover this aspect of networking. Check out Understanding Tech for these and other useful materials.
Windows Vista Networking Features:
When you double-click one of the systems in the discovery window, Vista should prompt you for a login. How the access to the remote system that is sharing resources on the network was made will determine what you need to enter. If access is restricted to specific users, your login name must be one that was created on the remote system, and you must use the password associated with it. If you enter a user name that does not exist on the remote computer, then access is limited to whatever is available to the "everyone" group.
Network access to resources can be restricted to specific names that have been added to the computer's list of users. Access can also be assigned to groups of users, or to standard system groups such as "everyone," "administrators," or "users." These names and groups must exist on the system sharing the folder, printer, or other resource. Under Windows XP, simple file sharing is active by default. This gives you just two choices: 1) Share the folder on the network (read-only) and 2) Allow network users to change your files (read-write). In this case, "network users" is the "everyone" group.
If the remote system has any unrestricted shares, you will be able to access it using the name of your local computer, your user name, or even generic words like "anonymous." One trick I mention in network security is creating shares with a dollar sign "$" at the end. This creates what is called a system share, which you can access if you know the name; it will not appear in the list of resources when browsing the system. You can access the hidden resources by typing the shared name in the address line or when you "map a drive."
To map a network folder to a local drive letter, right click on "Computer" or "Network" and select "Map network drive." Enter the server name followed by the share name using two backslash characters before the server name, and one backslash before the share. In the screenshots displayed here, the computer name is "HOPC0177," if I have a system share to the download folder called "download$" then the map drive path would be "\\HOPC0177\download$" Note: Vista and XP are generally not case sensitive when it comes to system and share names, but if you are trying to connect to a non-Windows system, the exact character case can make a difference.
If you cannot find the system name by browsing the network, do what I usually do and use the IP address. I find that the system names are not always available, either because of filters on the network, firewall settings or some other setting in network properties that supports that particular feature. If you know the IP of the remote system, use this instead of the friendly name.
Windows Vista expands on the simple file sharing options and the Sharing Wizard steps you through the process.
This opens the Network and Sharing Center window.
If there is a communication issue at any point, the image will reflect which connections are available. If I disconnect the local cable connection, the diagram changes to show that there is a problem. Clicking on the Diagnose and repair selection causes Vista to try some basic tests like resetting the local network adapter. If that fails, it may display some useful suggestions such as "Plug the cable in..."
Depending on the type of network environment you specified (work network, public network, etc.) Vista will make changes to the firewall settings when you create a shared resource. (If you are on a public network, you don't generally want file sharing enabled, or to allow everyone access to your files.) If others are having difficulty connecting to your shared folder on a home or trusted work network, one thing you can test is to temporarily disable the Vista Firewall. Be aware that the reason for doing this is to check if it is your firewall settings that are preventing access by others, and not some other cause.
Determine the IP address of your Vista computer:
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