Networking 101: Sharing Your High Speed Internet Connection with ICS

November 4, 2011, By George Lang

Let’s say you are stuck upstairs in a corner bedroom with a wireless (Wi-Fi) Internet connection for your laptop. You have an old Windows XP desktop computer sitting there but you don’t use it because you have no way to connect it to the Internet (i.e., the router is in the basement two floors down); so it just sits there and rots. You could be using its hard drive for backup or as a networked media server for music and videos.

Fact is, you’ve had Internet access all along and didn’t even know it. Microsoft Internet Connection Sharing (ICS) has been an application included free with all Microsoft Windows operating systems (OSs) since Windows 98 (Second Edition).

To access the service, simply click on the “Sharing” tab of your ethernet adapter’s network “Properties” box and select “Allow other users to connect through this computer’s Internet connection.” I would recommend unchecking the “Allow other network users to control or disable the shared Internet connection,” unless you are the only user on the network and have a specific reason for wanting to remotely control the connection.

As an example, let’s set up the scenario outlined in paragraph one above: The laptop’s wireless network adapter would be the one set up as the ICS adapter according to the steps above; the ethernet adapter on the laptop can then be connected to the desktop computer’s network adapter via an ethernet crossover cable (e.g., Cat5 or Cat6 cable), and voila–you are connected to the Internet on both computers!  Alternately you can connect the computers together using a stand-alone hub or switch.

Next week we will cover the networking aspect of the connection and show you how to connect even more upstairs computers to that same shared ICS system.

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