OK, you have a new computer and you’ve made the decision to keep your old computer, and you want your spouse and children to be able to do email and surf the web without demanding your computer.
Let’s assume you already have an existing home computer network — if you don’t, the first article in this week’s online newsletter is for you…
There are two basic ways that computers on home networks can get the IP addresses and other network data they need in order to communicate with each other: we can enter the data into the configuration screens, if we want to use static (unchanging) IP addresses, or we can set the router to assign IP addresses dynamically using DHCP.
DHCP is the default setting for home routers, it’s the way most Internet Service Providers assign IP addresses, and it’s the way Windows has networking set up by default. Let’s assume you’re using DHCP.
If you are going to place the newly networked computer close to the router, the best connection will be a wired connection. Using an Ethernet cable will give you a higher speed than you can get with wireless. Also, sometimes, wireless connections can be flakey — it may be a mobile phone, a microwave, or even a neighbor who turns on a wireless router using the same channel — anyway, sometimes wireless works easily, while other times it’s a battle.
Wireless networking seems to require a little voodoo — you have to sacrifice a chicken every now and then… Go to the grocery, get some chicken, dip it in milk, salt & pepper it, roll it in flour and then deep-fry it. Enjoy the chicken and then see if the wireless network works yet! <grin>
With a wired connection, with everything set at its defaults, all you have to do is to connect the new computer to the network. Plug an Ethernet cable (a straight-through, also called "patch," cable, not a cross-over cable) into the Ethernet port on the computer and into your router.
If you plugged in the cable after the computer was running, if you’ve got Windows XP or later, it should automatically ask for and receive an IP address, as well as DNS and Internet Gateway settings from the router. If you’ve got an earlier version of Windows, the easiest thing to do is to reboot. Sometimes, Windows XP will require this, too.
It will take 5-10 seconds to obtain the IP address. After that, you should be able to surf the web from that computer.
You won’t be able to talk to other computers on your home network without some other configuration changes, too.