Computer Network: What it is?
Computer Network is a group of two or more computers connecting each other locally or globally. The local connection is called LAN or Local Area Network. On the other hand, connecting computers beyond the scope of LAN is known as a WAN or Wide Area Network. Basically, it is done, to enable computers communicate each other and exchange data or share files over the network.
Is computer networking hard to implement?
Well, if we dig deeper, it is a highly technical topic. But don’t worry, I won’t touch such technicalities here, as far as I could, or I will be expounding each if it’s inevitable.
By the way, before we start our step by step guide on how to network computers, you may read Network Devices and How to crimp RJ45. To give you an overview and fundamental knowledge of computer networking.
Computer Networking Notes
First thing first, to avoid wasting your time and efforts in computer networking, it is recommended to check first your network devices, if it works fine. Especially the network cable because it is the most common reason of network failure, but often overlook, check this crimping rj45.
What are the things you need in networking computers?
Aside from the network devices, we need the following:
- IP Address
- Computer Name
- Default Gateway
IP (Internet Protocol) Address
There are two types of IP Addresses, the dynamic and static. For this tutorial, I am referring to computer IP address, the address of each computer in your network. Normally it is dynamic or automatically assigned by default with the help of DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol). All windows operating systems are using DHCP, from Windows XP up to Windows 8. So, it simply means that if you are using Windows OS, you are having a Dynamic or Changing IP address, if you did not change it into static by yourself.
Which is better Dynamic or Static IP Address?
For me, I prefer the static because I want to know the address of each computer in the network. I want it to be constant so that I can easily share files and devices by just typing the IP address of certain computer that I want to connect without going through to the network places and looking for each name. It will save you time and effort.
How about dynamic? The reason that I don’t recommend Dynamic IP addressing because sometimes it creates conflicts between computers, especially if you are using it with static IP’s at the same time.
How to get your IP address if you are using the dynamic one?
Simply hit the “windows logo” + “r” in your keyboard, to open the “run”. Type, “cmd” to open the “command prompt”. Next, type “ipconfig” and press “enter”, now the IP address, Subnet Mask and Default Gateway is being displayed. You can take a note of it, just remember that after restarting your computer, it may change to another IP address.
How to change your Dynamic IP Address into Static IP Address?
In Windows XP, go to “start” —>>> “control panel” –>> “Network and Internet connections” –>> “Network connections” —>>right click “Local Area Connection” —>>>click “Properties” —>> select “Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) and click “Properties”.
- Now, from “Obtain an IP address automatically” change it to “Use the following IP address”. Then, use the information that you got from your “ipconfig” command. Normally, your default Gateway is your Router’s IP Address and it uses the first IP address. For example, your gateway is 192.168.1.1, as what you can see the last octet or number is 1. So, you can start IP Addressing your Computer Networks from 192.168.1.2 but I suggest to start from 3 or 101, if you don’t have a lot of computers in your network to give extra numbers in case you will add another Routers in your network.
- Please take note that you are only allowed to change the number at the 4th octet and it is limited up to 254. It means you are free to address your IP’s in your network from 2 – 254, it is the limit set for LAN or Local Area Network. Regarding the “Subnet mask” you don’t have to configure it, it’s automatic, after filling-in your IP Address just simply “TAB” and Subnet-mask is written automatically.
- By the way, in case that your ISP (Internet Service Provider) did not give you specific DNS Server, you can use your Default Gateway as DNS Server as well, for you to connect to the Internet (if you are us your ISP’s Modem router).
How to change your Dynamic IP Address in Windows 7 into Static?
As usual, click “Start” –>>> “Control Panel” —>> “Network and Internet” —>> “Network and Sharing Center” —>>> at the left-tab-sidebar choose “Change Adapter Settings” —>>> right click the “Local Area Connection” —>>> select “Properties” —>>> look for “Internet Protocol Version 4 TCP/IPv4” then hit “Properties”.
Now simply follow the instruction in the Bullet list above. After assigning each computer with unique IP Addresses, you can now network each computer in your network by just typing (Double Backslash) + the IP Address. Example, 126.96.36.199, 192.168.1.23 and so on….
The Computer Name is one of the factors that sometimes creates problems in your Computer Networks. Though it is not really vital as the IP address, but it is worth to care about. The common errors it creates in your network is a conflict between computers that may lead to “no internet connection” and “networking inaccessibility”. That’s how important you Computer Name is.
To make your Computer Networks seamless, your computers should have a unique computer name. Having two computers with the same name in your network will result errors for both computers despite they have different IP Address.
How to change your computer name?
In Windows XP, right click the “My Computer” icon —>> select “Properties” –>> select the “Computer Name” tab –>> hit the “change” and type your desired computer name. A reboot is needed for the changes to take effect. That’s it.
In Windows 7, go to “start”, right click “computer” —>> click “Advance system settings” –>> select the “Computer Name” tab and click the “change” now you are free to replace your “Computer Name”.
How to network your computer using the computer name? Type (Double-backslash) + Computer Name in the run command. STATION9.
Workgroup is designed to group each computer in your network to ease the sharing process. The common Workgroup name is the “Workgroup” itself, but you can change it according to your taste.
What if your computers are having different Workgroup? You will experience difficulty in sharing and networking your computers. Each computer will not see each other. So, you better have a one Workgroup for all computers in your network.
You can change it, in the same way as you change your computer name. But this time instead of changing the computer name, edit the Workgroup section via “Member of”.
How to network your computers using the Workgroup? In Windows XP, simply double-click the “Network Places” Then click the “View Workgroup computers.
In Windows 7, just click the “Network” and it will display all the computers in your Workgroup.
Note: Domain may be used for larger Computer Network instead of Workgroup.
From the word “Gateway”, what would you expect? Well, it is like a bridge, there is no way that you can go to the other side without passing through it. Each computers in your network needs the Gateway to exchange data or to communicate each other.
As what we’ve discussed earlier, your default gateway is usually your router’s IP Address from where all your computers are connected. Therefore, see to it that all your computers are having the same Default Gateway to avoid network problems.
Computer Networks Summary
Just a few words, to avoid unnecessary problems in your network of computers, keep this in mind.
- Your computers, each must have a unique IP Address.
- Your computers, each must have a unique computer name.
- Your computers must be in one Workgroup.
- Your computers must have one Default Gateway.
- You can use your Default Gateway as DNS Server, to enable Internet connection.
Now that you have known all the basic things you need to know in Computer Networks. You can now easily share your printers, documents and any devices you want share in your network.
How to share a printer in your network of computers?
To share a printer in Windows XP, just right click the printer —>>> Properties —>>Sharing —>>then press the “if you understand the security risk but want to share files without running the wizard, click here” —“just enable file sharing” —->>> check the box “Share this folder on the Network”—>> click apply and ok. Actually, it’s like sharing your folder.
In Windows 7, sharing a printer is the same as sharing a folder. Please see this How to share a folder in Windows 7.
Now that your printer is shared, you want other computers in your network to print through it, not just the host computer from where the printer is attached. What should you do?
Let me put it this way, for example, you installed the printer in Computer 1, you shared it and you want Computer 2 to use that printer too. Right? All you have to do is to network Computer 1 from Computer 2 using back-slash + IP address, computer name or via Workgroup. Since the printer is shared, it will appear as what you can see in the sample image below.
Double click the printer icon, to install it in Computer 2. Wait for a few seconds until the install wizard finished installing. Once done, the computer 2, can now print using the computer 1’s printer.
Can I do this to all computers in my network? Of course you can, just repeat the process for each of your remaining computers in your network. Aside from a printer, you can also share any devices that you want, the process is almost the same in sharing a printer in your computer networks.
Do you think I missed something? Feel free to start a discussion below.