Setup a wireless network
Step-by-step guide to networking without wires
Without resources to create an elaborate network infrastructure, many small offices choose wireless networking because it's flexible, inexpensive - and easy to install and maintain.
1. Getting started
Networking your small business so you can easily share internet connections, files and printers doesn't require a major commitment of time or expense. A wireless network requires two main components:
In a wireless network, radio waves are used to communicate between each networked computer's wireless adapter and the wireless base station. The base stations and adapters follow one of the 802.11 radio transmission standards developed by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). The most popular versions of these standards are often referred to as Wi-Fi.
You can purchase base stations and network adapters from major computer retailers and simply follow the instructions to set them up. Once you've done so, you can start configuring your network. The steps that follow describe setting up workgroups and file and print sharing, and apply to both wireless and wired networking.
2. Establishing workgroups
One benefit of networking computers in your small office is that everyone can use certain files, folders and a printer. This happens when the owner of a computer makes files, folders or a connected printer available to others on the network through a process called "sharing." Once files, folders or a printer are shared, others on the network can then access them.
To facilitate this multi-user access, all of the computers that are sharing or accessing shared resources must first be members of the same workgroup.
Once a workgroup has been created, it is visible when you open My Network Places. (Click the My Network Places icon on your desktop.) The ability to see a whole workgroup simplifies the viewing and accessing of shared resources.
To specify a computer's workgroup in Windows XP operating system:
Naming conventions are important to keep in mind when you set up or add computers to workgroups. A workgroup name must be:
Computer names, meanwhile, must be unique:
3. Sharing files, folders or drives
Sharing resources is configured from the computer that contains the files and folders you want to share. You can share an entire drive so that all the files and folders on that drive become available to the other computers, or you can share just specific folders.
To share a file, folder or drive using Windows XP:
For shared files to be available to others, the computer with the files must be turned on and logged on to the network. Use My Network Places (Microsoft Windows XP) or Network Neighborhood (Windows 2000 and Windows 98) to navigate to and access shared files and folders on your network.
You can avoid having to navigate to a shared resource using My Network Places when you "map" your computer to the resource. When you map to a shared folder or drive to a drive letter on your computer, you can use My Computer or Windows Explorer to view it.
To map a shared folder or drive to a drive letter:
4. Sharing a printer or scanner
There are two types of shared printers:
After you have added a computer to a workgroup, you can share any printers that are connected to it. To share a printer, open the Printers control panel by clicking Start, pointing to Settings (or Control Panel) and then clicking Printers (or Printers and Faxes). Select the printer you want to share and on the File menu, click Sharing, or click Properties and then click the Sharing tab. In the Sharing dialog box, choose to share or not to share the printer.
You can also share new printers that you install on any of your networked computers. If the Add Printer Wizard detects that your computer is on a network, the wizard will give you the option to share the printer when you install it.
If you cannot access the Sharing option, or if you see a message stating that file and printer sharing is not turned on, you must enable the File and Printer Sharing component in Windows. In Windows XP you can do that through the Properties page for your network connection. In other Windows operating systems, you can use the network control panel.
Here are some other things to know about sharing printers and scanners:
On computers running Windows XP and Windows 2000, you can also install the drivers for other operating systems when you first share the printer. To do so, click Additional Drivers in the Sharing dialog box. You do not need to install the drivers in the other computers.
After the shared printer is set up, you can send print jobs from any of the computers in the workgroup exactly as you would print to a local printer.
5. Setting rules and security
If you are sharing files over a wireless network or with computers that are connected to the internet, security is an important consideration. If you don't take steps to help protect your network, it is possible for internet intruders or wireless eavesdroppers to access your shared files.
You can help protect computers on your wireless network from unauthorised access in several ways: