How to Setup a LAN on Windows XP

By Jennifer Claerr

You can use the network capabilities of Windows XP to share a broadband Internet connection, files and printers. Setting up a local area network (LAN) is much simpler on Windows XP than on earlier Windows operating systems. You can set up either a wired or wireless LAN for your home or small office computers. Both setups will require a router for the main network computer and an access point or network interface card (NIC) for each additional work group computer.

Shut down your computer if it is turned on. Connect your DSL or cable modem, if any, to your network router using an Ethernet cable. Then connect the router directly to the back of the computer using another Ethernet cable. Install any software that came with your router.

Install access points on each computer that will be on your wireless network. Install the software for your access points. If you are installing a wired network, you will need to run Ethernet cable through your attic or walls from the primary computer to each other computer. Connect the Ethernet cable for your wired network directly to the network interface card of your work group computers.

Run the "Network Setup Wizard" if you will be connecting a wireless network. Click "Start," "My Network Places" and "Set up a home or small office network" on the computer that is connected to your router. Click "Next." In the next screen, click "Yes" if you already have an existing shared Internet connection. Click "No" if you would like to set up a new connection. In the next window, type in the name and description of your computer, if the fields are not already filled in. Type your work group name and select whether you would like to turn on file and printer sharing in the next windows.

Select "Just Finish the Wizard" if you have Windows XP installed on the other work group computers in your wireless network. However, if you have a different Windows operating system on the other computers, select "Create a network setup disk." Click "Next," then click "Finish."

Run the "Network Setup Wizard" on all your other work group computers. Use the network setup disk on any computer that is running Windows 95, 98 or Millennium Edition. Give each work group computer a different description, but type in the same work group name on each computer.

Click "Start," "Connect To" and "Show All Connections" on each work group computer. Select the connection that corresponds to your access point. In the left pane select "View Available Wireless Networks" if your connection is wireless. If you are on a wired network, open your browser to see if you have an Internet connection. Also click "Start " and "My Network Places" to view other work group computers on your network.