Peer to Peer Networking
Using Windows 95

Selecting The Network

Peer-to-peer networks aren't nearly as expensive to create compared to client-server-based networks. All the software you need comes with Windows 95. This affordability often makes peer-to-peer networks ideal for small businesses or home users.

However, the main disadvantage of using this type of network is that you sacrifice security by placing network control in the hands of end users. Therefore, this method strategy is obviously inappropriate for high-security environments.

Selecting Network Cabling
Your options range from very expensive fiber-optic cable to increasingly obsolete, but moderately priced Arcnet cable. Your choice should depend on how fast you want your data to travel and how much money you want to spend. Some types of cables are easier to install than others.

Let's select 10BaseT cable. This cable is moderately priced at less than $20 per machine, and it is easy to install - similar as a telephone - just plug th end connector into a jack. In fact, the RJ-45 connector on 10BaseT cables look very similar to a telephone connector. These cables can carry data ar speeds of up to 100 megabits (MB) per second.

Selecting Network Card

A "network card" is a circuit board that plugs into an expansion slot inside your PC. It provides the jack for connecting a network cable to your PC. As of August 1997, 10BaseT network cards costs on average $30.00.

Selecting Our Hub (Only if more than 2 PC's)
This is only necessary if you plan to network more than 2 computers. A "hub" is a device that directs network traffic. It has several ports into which you can plug your network cables.

Summary of Hardware
It costs very little to establish a 10BaseT network between 2 PC's because you don't need a hub. All you need is a network card for each machine and a special 10BaseT cable called a "crossover" cable. Plug one end of this cable into each machine's network card.

Software Settings in Windows 95

Straightening Up!!
Examine the Configuration Tab of the Network properties sheet to look for any componets that are installed more than once. If you find any components that are installed multiple times, you should simply select it or tem and click the Remove button, gracefully.

Verify that Primary Network Logon is set to Client for Microsoft Networks. If it is not chosen then select it from the dropdown list. Now, also click the File & Print Sharing button. Select both check boxes on the File and Print Sharing dialog box. Click OK to return to the Network properties sheet.

Setting Names & Access Control

The next phase is to assign a computer name and workgroup to your PC. To do so, click on the Network properties sheet's Identification tab and fill in the appropriate fields.

Enter a computer name. It should be different for each computer on the network. You should typically use a computer name that identifies who uses the computer or where it is located.

Choose a workgroup name. Use some workgroup name for each PC on your network. This is how Windows identifies your computer as a part of the network. Computer description field is an optional field allowing you to add additional information about the computer's location.

To set access control, click on the Access Control tab on the Network properties sheet. Now, select the Share-level access control radio button. Doing so allows you to establish a separate password for each share if you want. Once you have set up the passwords, click OK and then reboot the computer.

Setting Up A User Account
When your PC restarts, Windows 95 will prompt you to enter a user name and a password. You can enter any user name and password if you want. If you didn't use a password, simply press [ENTER] in the password field. Windows 95 will now ask you to confirm your password. To do so, either retype it or press [ENTER] again if you chose not to use a password. Repeat this process from each PC on your network.

Sharing Files & Directories

Open My Computer and right-click on the directory you want to share. Then select the Sharing command from the resulting context menu. In the directories name property sheets, click the Shared As radio button.

The next step is to decide the level of access you wish to assign the directory: read-only, full, or depends on password. Windows 95 will let you enter a separate password for each level of access. This feature is handy if you need to give some people higher access to a share than others. If security is not an issue for your network, then you don't need to enter and use passwords. Instead, simply select the desired access level, press [ENTER] in the appropriate password text box, and click OK.

Shared Directory Connecting
To connect to a shared directory, you need to map a network drive to it. Let's assign the letter G as our new drive letter for our directory name.

Let's map a drive now. Open Windows Explorer and select the Map Network Drive command from the Tools menu. When you do, you'll see the Map Network Drive dialog box. Select drive letter from drop down box. Next, enter shared directory's path in the Path text box in the format: \\computer name\directory name . Check the reconnect at logon to permanently map this drive letter when computer is restarted. To disconnect, select the Disconnect Network Drive command from Windows Explorer's Tools Menu.

Sharing A CD-ROM
To share a CD-ROM Drive - open My Computer and select your CD-ROM drive. Next, right-click on your CD-ROM drive's icon and select Sharing from the menu. Connection is the same as with directories located on your hard disk. Open Windows Explorer and use the Map network Drive command on the Tools Menu to map it to a drive letter as above.

Sharing A Printer

Open My Computer and then open the Printers folders. Next, right-click on your printer and select Sharing from the Menu. When you see the printer's properties sheet, click the sharing tab. Now, click the Shared As radio button and type a unique name for the printer in the Share Name text box. The share name should normally indicate the type of printer you're sharing. Do not duplicate this name with any other share names on your PC network.

Shared Printer Connection
The first thing you must do is tell Windows 95 to redirect printing from the LPT1 port to the network queue. To do so, doublie-click the Printer's icon in Control Panel and then double-click the Add Printers icon.

Windows 95 will open Add Printer Wizard, click the Next button, select the Network Printer radio button, and then click Next again. When you do, the Add Printer Wizard will ask you to provide the path to the network printer. Enter it in the format: \\computer name\share name where computername is the name of the computer to which the printer is physically attached, adn sharename is the share name that you've assigned to the printer.

The Add Printer Wizard also asks if you print from MS-DOS-based programs. Select YES radio button, then click the Next button. In the Add Printer Wizard's next dialog box, select the type of printer you're trying to capture by selecting the printer's manufacturer from the Manufacturer's list and choosing the printer model from the Printer's list. Click the Next button to continue.

At this point, the Add Printer Wizard will ask you to assign a name to the printer. This name isn't the same as the printer's share name. Instead, it's the name that your local PC will use, and it will appear under the printer's icon (title) and in any Select Printer windows.

When it finishes copying the printer drivers to your hard drive, it will create an icon for the printer. You can now print to the printer in exactly the same way that you would if it were physucally attached to your PC.

Peer-to-peer networks are cheap and easy to setup. They suffer from lack of security. They have their advantages in small situations where security is not essential. Give a try if you have a couple computers setting around running Windows95. The kids might enjoy playing games against one another each on their own PC !!!

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