Networking 101: Sharing Resources on Your ICS Network

November 17, 2011, By George Lang

Over the past two weeks we’ve been discussing how you can share your broadband Internet connection with other computers nearby—for FREE! Our week-one Networking 101 article showed you how to use Microsoft Internet Connection Sharing (ICS) software to connect a desktop to the Internet through your laptop’s wireless (Wi-Fi) connection. The week-two topic illustrated the adding of even more computers to share the high-speed connection for free. This week we will demonstrate how to share resources such as printers, music and video libraries, and documents on all those computers; and, while this is definitely the big payoff in computer networking, it has also proven the most difficult for most novice users. So be prepared, harness your seat belt, and bring a lot of patience to the game.

ICS Network

FIRST and foremost, you must have “Administrative Privileges” for all the computers on the network. We are going to assume (as we have since the beginning of this weekly column) that each computer is using a Microsoft Windows operating system (OS), any version from Windows 95 or later; and that a hub or switch (we will cover router use in a  subsequent article) is being used if you are adding more than two computers to the ICS network. So you will need the passwords to log on to any account with administrative privileges for each computer. (If you don’t have the passwords, find someone who does.) Alternatively, if the computer is already logged in to administrator mode, you can set up another administrative “User” account and password in the “Control Panel”…

 

SECOND, each computer must be assigned to the same “WORKGROUP” and have a unique “COMPUTER NAME” (one that is different than any other computer within that WORKGROUP). Both of these tasks are accomplished at the same location: Right-Click on My Computer and select “Properties” (if this is the first time you’ve ever right-clicked anything, congratulations; you just learned one of the most valuable tricks to effectively using and controlling your computer).

 

Windows 7 "My Computer" Properties

 

Click on “Change Settings” Then click on “Change” to assign your WORKGROUP name (it must be the same for all computers) and the “Computer Name” (which must be unique for each computer). For the Windows 7 OS, it should look similar to this…

 

 

THIRD, “Sharing” must be set up for any printers, folders, and/or files that you want to share.

Windows XP and earlier: This is accomplished by right-clicking on the item that needs to be shared and selecting “Sharing…” and put a check mark in the “Share this folder on the network” box.

Window Vista and Windows 7: Go to the Control Panel and select “Network and Internet” then select “Network and Sharing Center” so that you are looking at something similar to this…

 

 

Click on “Change advanced sharing settings” in the upper left-hand corner. Select the settings and items you want to share…

 

FOURTH, in order to access the files and printers you’ve shared, we recommend placing a “Network Shortcut” icon on your desktop. Double-Click “My Computer” if it is on the Desktop; if not, click “Start” and select “My Computer” then scroll down in the left-side  navigation pane until you see “Network.” Left-Click on it and hold and drag it to the Desktop. Double-clicking this icon will always get you to your network resources, assuming all computers on the network are turned on.

LASTLY, you will need to add the network printer to your available printing devices on the remote machines. Click on “Start” and select “Devices and Printers” (in Windows XP and earlier it is called “Printers and Faxes”). Click on “Add Printer” and select “Network Printer.” The wizard will walk you through adding the printer to your available printing devices. If the printer is on an older machine, you may have to add printer drivers for your remote OS from within the printer’s sharing dialog box on the printer’s host computer.

That’s it! You may have to restart the computers a time or two, but that will get you up and running. Now your “bratty” little sister will be happy because she has free high-speed Internet access (refer to the week-two article), and you will have access to her pretty pink desktop and printer!

Next week we plan to show you how to use your cellphone to “tether” it’s 3G and/or 4G Internet access for your laptop and home network.

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