Windows 10

Installing (or Reinstalling) Your Network

If you're setting up a new network, you're in the right place. If you pulled out all your hair and still can't figure out how to get the %$#@! network working, tearing apart your network and reinstalling it from the ground up counts as a scorched-earth approach that may actually work.

So you have your PCs ready to go - network adapters installed and waiting. The hub's sitting in a box on the floor, or it has been attached to your cable TV or phone or satellite system by your friendly local DSL guy. All that cable makes quite a mess, and your spouse is starting to wonder, out loud, just what in the Sam Hill you expect to do with all of it. Yep. You're ready.

If you're going to set up a wireless network, you need to start with this procedure to get your router going - typically, by plugging just one computer into the router with a regular LAN cable. When the router's working and you can connect that hardwired computer to the Internet, you're ready to start adding wireless computers.

If all the computers you're trying to connect are running Windows 7, you're almost done - plug in the cables and turn on the computers, and Windows 7 establishes the network for you.

On the other hand, if you have a mixed bunch of motley computers, you may have to set up the network manually and bring each computer online, one by one.

Here's a simple, ten-step process for getting your new network up and running with a minimum of fuss and hassle:

  1. Set up each PC.
    Don't plug in the LAN cables yet. Connect the peripherals. Test each machine to make sure that it's working.
    If you're going to be sharing an Internet connection through one PC, using Internet Connection Sharing, get that PC connected to the Internet and make sure that everything is working fine.
  2. Turn off all PCs, unplug the router - from both the power outlet and the phone line/cable/satellite feed - and let everything sit for at least 30 seconds.
  3. With all the power off, put the router where it's going to go and connect all the LAN cables, at the hub and at each PC.
    If you have a cable, DSL, or satellite modem, make sure that it's connected to the phone line or cable TV line and that it's plugged into the broadband router.

    Broadband routers have only one specific place where you can plug in a cable or DSL modem. That location frequently sits next to the "normal" slots, so read the documentation (or at least squint at the back of the hub!) to make sure that you plug your cable or DSL modem into the right slot.

  4. If you have a cable/DSL/satellite router (sometimes called a modem), stick the router's power plug in the wall, turn on the router, and wait for the lights to stop flashing.
    This step establishes the DSL or cable or satellite modem as the mother of all mother hens. It also gives the modem a chance to run out to the Internet and gather anything it needs.
  5. If you have a wireless access point that's separate from your router, or if you have a second router, plug it in and wait for the lights to stop blinking.
    Some people use more than one router on a network to add ports or to cut down the number of long cables necessary to hook up a many-PC network. See your router manufacturer's instructions for details, but in many cases you can just "daisy chain" routers together by stringing cables from one to the next.
    If the wireless access point or additional router wants to be a mother hen, it should work out its differences with the broadband router at this point.
  6. Turn on one of the Windows 7 PCs.
    Setting up a network in Windows 7 is easier - much easier - than setting it up with Vista or XP or any of those unmentionable alternatives.
    If you're going to use Internet Connection Sharing, turn on the ICS computer and start with it.
    Verify that the light on the hub for that PC comes on - in other words, make sure that the network adapter and cable for that PC are working okay. Now is the time to sort out connection problems: If the light doesn't go on, a cable is probably loose or an adapter card isn't installed correctly. Fix the problem now.
    When the light comes on at the hub, your Windows 7 PC installs any drivers it needs in order to connect to the hub and then looks for an existing network, or at least a working connection to the Internet.
  7. If no connection to the Internet is found - Internet Explorer doesn't work or you see a notification - click the network icon in the notification area (the one that looks like a trident superimposed on a computer screen) and choose Open Network and Sharing Center.
  8. If you have an Internet connection and you want to set up this specific PC to share its Internet connection by way of Internet Connection Sharing, follow these substeps:
    You must have two adapters in the ICS system - one for connecting to the Internet and the other for connecting to the network.
    1. Open the Network and Sharing Center by clicking the network icon, in the notification area, and choosing Open Network and Sharing Center.
    2. In the Network and Sharing Center, on the left, click the Change Adapter Settings link.
    3. Right-click the Internet connection - the adapter that's connected to the Internet - and choose Properties. Then click the Sharing tab.
      Depending on whether you're sharing a wired or wireless Internet connection, you see the Network Connection Properties or Wireless Network Connection Properties.
    4. Select the check box marked Allow Other Network Users to Connect through This Computer's Internet Connection. Optionally, you can allow other users to disable the shared Internet connection. Click OK twice and then "X" out of the Manage Network Connections dialog box.
      The PC's Internet connection will be shared and accessible from other PCs connected to the network. If you already have other PCs attached to the network, you should reboot them so that they can find the new Internet connection.
  9. Continue to set up other computers on your network.
    By starting with a Windows 7 computer, at least in my experience, you greatly increase the chances of getting your Windows XP and Windows Vista computers to talk with each other.
If you're adding Windows XP computers to your network, make sure that you have installed Windows XP Service Pack 2 or Service Pack 3, and then run the Network Setup Wizard. To open the wizard on a Windows XP computer, choose Start → All Programs → Accessories → Communications➪Network Setup Wizard. Be prepared for some of the most confusing questions that any version of Windows has ever asked.

Attaching a Vista computer to the network is considerably simpler, but you need to make sure that your Sharing and Discovery settings reflect the way you want to run the network.

When you're done. The network should be networking. Try choosing Start → Network on any of the Windows 7 PCs and make yourself at home. Try printing on a networked printer.

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