Work and play together
Linking computers to create a network greatly expands their capacity and can even save you money! Does your home contain two or more computers? By networking them, you can:
- Share a single Internet connection. Microsoft® Windows® XP has a feature called Internet Connection Sharing (ICS). Using ICS, one computer, called the ICS host, shares its Internet connection with the rest of the computers on the network. By sharing one Internet connection, you can simultaneously surf the Web on your computer while another family member checks e-mail on a different computer.
- Share a printer, scanner, and other hardware. You may have a printer that is connected to a computer in another room. With home networking, you can print to this printer from your computer. You no longer have to copy a file onto a floppy disk and take it to the computer that has the printer.
- Share files and folders. Suppose your child asks you to look at a school report that is located on the computer in his or her bedroom. When computers are networked together you can, for instance, open the file from your computer, make changes, and then save the file on your child's computer.
- Play multi-computer games. By networking and sharing an Internet connection, family members can play games on separate computers with each other or on the Internet. And while they're playing, you can be surfing the Web, too — for example, visiting your favorite financial or sports sites.
And there's more: Microsoft Windows XP makes home networking easier than ever. But first you must link your computers together, by installing appropriate hardware in each and by joining the computers with wires or by means of wireless technology. This article explains the process from start to finish. You'll learn how to choose the right network technology for your home, the right components to obtain, and how to install and connect them properly. There's also a section on protecting your home network from outside hackers by creating a secure barrier called a firewall, the same as that used by businesses.
A network is more than the sum of its parts. Networked computers can share an Internet connection, printer and other hardware, and view files in common. You can even use a network to play multi-user computer games.