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Networking your ATTBI connection for an in-home network is not that difficult. Following the instructions below will have you sharing the broadband connection, files, and printers in no time.
The first step is to configure all the hardware. This includes the PCs and the router or router/hub and CAT5 cable connections. The set-up should look as follows for a multi-port router (i.e. a NetGear RT314) configuration
Figure 1 - Hardware Set Up with Multiport Router
or this for a single port router (i.e. a NetGear RT311) and hub configuration
Figure 2 - Hardware Set Up with Single Port Router and Hub
PC Network Settings Configuration
The next step is to configure the PCs. Below are steps to configure Windows 98/Windows ME and Windows XP PCs. Chose the one(s) appropriate for the PCs in your set-up. The first step is to select unique names for each PC. In the following examples, the Windows 98 PC is names BAKER, the Windows ME PC is named EPSILON, and the Windows XP machine is named ALPHA.
The names may be any alphanumeric combination, but it helps if you seek it simple. Common practices include naming the machines after Greek letters, the planets, or states. If you want, you can call them PC1, PC2, etc or Y837Ik, 234IopLi, and Friui4098 its up to you. You must also pick a common Workgroup name for the PCs. In the example below, the Workgroup name is ATTBI. It could just as easily be FRED or R3489Iuj. The important thing to remember is that for the PCs to share files and printers, they must share a common Workgroup name.
Windows 98/ME PC Configuration
To configure the Windows 98 or ME PC, right click on the Network Neighborhood icon on the desktop, and select Properties. In the pop-up window, select the Identification tab. The following examples show the screens that you can expect to see for each type of machine.
Set the desired Workgroup name and computer name in the appropriate boxes as shown below
Figure 3 Win98 PC Identification
Figure 4 - WinME PC Identification
Next, select the Configuration tab. You have the choice of either using DHCP or setting your IP to a static value. I choose to use static values in my home network because it makes it very straight forward if it becomes necessary to map a port through the router to a particular machine. Set the IP to a static value as follows
On the IP Address tab, click the Specify an IP Address radio button, and then set a unique, local IP value in a range that is recognizable by your router. The following is an example of PCs connected to a router (such as the NetGear RT314) with the NetGear default router IP address of 192.168.0.1. To be able to see the router, the IP selected must fit within the subnet of the router (in this case, and in most cases 255.255.255.0 will do for a subnet mask). As such, I have selected IPs of 192.168.0.3 and 192.168.0.5 for these PCs, and set the subnets to be the same as the routers subnet. Note that if you are using a LinkSys router, the default IP for the router is 192.168.100.1; therefore, if these PCs were to be connected to a LinkSys router, then IPs of 192.168.100.3 and 192.168.100.5 would be more appropriate. Note that you typically can set the private IP of your router to any of the private IPs that are standard, but I see no real benefit to changing it from the manufacturers default value, unless you are building a more complex network, which is beyond the scope of this writing.
Figure 5 Win98 PC Static IP Address
Figure 6 - WinME PC Static IP Address
If you chose to use DHCP, instead of specifying an IP in the above box, select the Obtain an IP address automatically radio button, and leave the lower boxes blank. This will allow your router to specify an IP for the PC (assuming the router is set-up to perform the DHCP function, as is the default for most home-use routers).
Setting the DNS settings is similar. In the following example, I have chosen to set the DNS addresses statically as well, and have used a known good ATTBI DNS address (for the WinME machine, two known good ATTBI DNS addresses), and, as a final backup, a DNS from a local university. I could just have easily specified only the router, but in doing so, it adds additional work for the router, and when I have done in the past, it has led to DNS delays that result in slower loading of web pages. To add an address to the list, enter the address in the box immediately under DNS Server Search Order, then click the Add button. Note that the Host name and Domain name are filed in. This information is the same as is set in the router. This information can be set in your router, and does not have any default values. I choose to name the router RT314A, but could have called if Charlie if I wanted to. Consult your router set-up instructions for the method of doing this. The domain name that I set is the domain name that the router receives from the ISP. Again, consult the router instructions for how to determine and/or set this name. There seems to be some confusion as to whether or not it is necessary to set the domain name when using static DNS information. I am not an expert in this area, but I know that the performance seems more reliable with it set (in my case to attbi.com), so I leave it the way it is.
Figure 7 Win98 PC Static DNS Configuration
Figure 8 - WinME PC Static DNS Configuration
If you are using DHCP to obtain an IP address, instead of specifying fixed DNS servers, it is better to select the Disable DNS radio button, and allow the router to perform the DNS function, as is the default. This will allow your router to use the dynamically specified DNS server addresses that it receives when if connects to the ISP to resolve domain names for any computers for which it serves IPs.
The last item to configure is the gateway information. For a PC which is using a static IP, it will be necessary to specify the routers IP as the gateway, as is shown in the following example. Again, this example is for a NetGear RT314 router, with a default LAN side IP of 192.168.0.1. If a LinkSys router is used, it will typically have a LAN side IP of 192.168.100.1. Consult your router documentation if in doubt. To add an address to the list, enter the address in the box immediately under New Gateway, then click the Add button.
Figure 9 Win98 PC Static Gateway Configuration
Figure 10 - WinME PC Static Gateway Configuration
If you are using DHCP to obtain an IP address, there should not be any need to specify a gateway IP, as this is also provided by the router when it performs its DHCP service. As such, the above can be left blank.
Configuring an XP machine is a little different.
To configure the WindowsXP identification, go to the control panel, and select the System Properties icon. A window similar to Figure 11 should appear. Select the Computer Name tab, and hit the Change button. A window similar to Figure 12 should appear. Set the desired computer name and Workgroup name, then click OK.
Figure 11 WinXP System Properties
Figure 12 WinXP Name Setting Window
IP and DNS Configuration
The next step is to set the IP and DNS addresses for the WindowsXP machine.
From the control panel, select Local Area Connections. The following window should appear.
Figure 13 WinXP Local Area Connections
Click the Properties button, and the following should appear.
Figure 14 WinXP Local Area Connection Properties
Scroll to the Internet Protocol item in the stack, then click on the Properties button. The following window should appear.
Figure 15 WinXP IP and DNS Static Settings
Click the Specify an IP Address radio button, and then set a unique, local IP value in a range that is recognizable by your router. The following is an example of a PC connected to a router (such as the NetGear RT314) with the NetGear default router IP address of 192.168.0.1. To be able to see the router, the IP selected must fit within the subnet of the router (in this case, and in most cases 255.255.255.0 will do for a subnet mask). As such, I have selected an IP of 192.168.0.4 for this PC, and set the subnet to be the same as the routers subnet. Note that if you are using a LinkSys router, the default IP for the router is 192.168.100.1; therefore, if this PC were to be connected to a LinkSys router, then an IP of 192.168.100.4 would be more appropriate. Note that you typically can set the private IP of your router to any of the private IPs that are standard, but I see no real benefit to changing it from the manufacturers default value, unless you are building a more complex network, which is beyond the scope of this writing.
Setting the DNS settings is similar. In the above example, I have chosen to set the DNS addresses statically as well, and have used a known good ATTBI DNS address (for the WinME machine, two known good ATTBI DNS addresses), and, as a final backup, a DNS from a local university. I could just have easily specified only the router, but in doing so, it adds additional work for the router, and when I have done in the past, it has led to DNS delays that result in slower loading of web pages.
If you chose to use DHCP, instead of specifying an IP in the above box, select the Obtain an IP address automatically radio button, and leave the lower boxes blank. This will allow your router to specify an IP for the PC (assuming the router is set-up to perform the DHCP function, as is the default for most home-use routers). Similarly, if the IP is obtained dynamically, the DNS servers should be set dynamically as well, and the Obtain DNS server address automatically radio button should be checked instead.
The last item to configure is the gateway information. By clicking the Advanced button in the TCP/IP Properties window, the following window should appear. Select the IP Settings tab, and click the Add button in the Default Gateways section of the window. Specify the router address and click OK (not shown).
Figure 16 WinXP Gateway Configuration
If DHCP is used to get an IP address, this step is not necessary.
Testing the Internet Connections
After having completed the above steps, all your PCs should be able to access the Internet via the cable modem and router.
Test each to make sure that they are working properly. Assuming that you can access the Internet, I highly recommend that at this point you visit www.dslreports.com/tweaks and run a tweak test. This will let you know if there are any other changes that you can make to further improve your connection speed. The site provides excellent documentation and tools to help you maximize your broadband connection.
Sharing Files and Printers
To share files and printers across your home-network, it is necessary to ensure that file and print sharing are enabled on each PC. To determine if it is installed, perform the following.
For Win98/WinME machines, again right click on the Network Neighborhood icon, and select properties.
Figure 16 File and Printer Sharing Item in Stack
If File and printer sharing for Microsoft Networks is not included in the stack, it will be necessary to add it. This can be done by clicking on Add. The following will appear
Figure 18 Adding a Service
Next, double-clicking on Service, and the following will appear
Figure 19 Selecting the Service
Finally, select File and printer sharing for Microsoft Networks. Be sure that you have your Windows installation CD handy, as files from the CD may be needed.
For WinXP machines, from the Local Area Connections properties window, if File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks is not in the stack, click Install and follow the instructions as listed above for Win98/WinME machines.
Figure 20 File and Printer Sharing Item in Stack on XP
In order to be able to share files, it is necessary to name a directory or drive on the individual computers and grant sharing privileges to that drive or folder. To do so, from Windows Explorer, select the drive or directory that you wish to share, right click on it and select Sharing from the pull-down menu. The pop-up window that appears allows you to set read/write access and is pretty much self-explanatory. Remember to set a share name to the item you wish to share.
If you want to share a printer, do the same from the Printers directory on the machine to which the printer is connected.
Once the printer is shared, it can be installed on other machines on the network by clicking Add Printer from the Start Menu->Settings->Printers window on each remote machine. To select the shared printer, after clicking Add Printer, click Next, select Network Printer, and then browse to the shared printer via the Browse button. The rest of the set-up is self-explanatory.
Sharing and Security
When sharing files on a home network that is also connected to the Internet, there is a valid concern that some of the data on the PCs in the network may be accessible by someone from outside the network. There are two ways around this.
One is to only allow sharing via a non-routable protocol, such as NetBeui. NetBeui is a network protocol that works well for small networks, and can be installed from the Network Neighborhood -> Configuration Properties tab by clicking Add -> Protocol -> Microsoft -> NetBeui. NetBeui does not come with XP, but information on how to install NetBeui on an XP machine is available from the Microsoft Knowledge Base under this article: Q301041.
Once NetBeui is installed, on each machine, it is necessary to ensure that file and print sharing only occurs under NetBeui.
To do this, from the Network Neighborhood Properties, Configuration Tab, select the TCP/IP > Network card item from the stack, and then click Properties. Select the Bindings tab, and ensure that only the protocol is not allowed to be used for sharing. Next, select the NetBeui > Network card item from the stack, and then click Properties. Select the Bindings tab, and ensure that only the protocol is allowed to be used for sharing.
Using TCP/IP alone for sharing is possible, but it should not be performed unless additional firewall software is used, and the network is behind a router with a built in firewall. I recommend the use of ZoneAlarm, available from www.zonelabs.com. With ZoneAlarm installed on each machine, file sharing will still be possible, but each machine must be configured to allow access by other machines on either an IP by IP basis, or by use of a range of IPs. This can be done from the ZoneAlarm Security panel, by setting the Local setting to Medium, unchecking the Block Local Servers check box, and then clicking on the Advanced button and adding either the individual IPs of each machine in you home network to the list of allowed local machines under Other Computers, or by adding a range of IPs that covers all the machines in you home network to the list of allowed local machines under Other Computers. This must be done on all machines in order for protected access to be granted.
Additional Information Regarding File Sharing on XP Machines
Local area network access to an XP machine with a hard disk formatted in the NTFS format will limit the files on the XP machine such that users from other machines have access to; you may need to experiment with this a little to get the settings the way you like. There are certain files and directories on the XP machine that cannot be shared via the simplified method discussed herein, but for home networking purposes this should not be a concern. Generally, any files on the XP machine that you want to share should be placed in the "C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Documents" directory or one of its subdirectories.