Articles :: How to Setup a Simple Network Part 1 - Hardware ::

Niso Levitas · 08-01-2002 · Category: Guides

Preparing Dial-up Connections for Windows XP

Requirements for Two or more PC's (Cost as low as $25)

  • Ethernet Card for each PC
  • A Hub or switch
  • A RJ45 CAT5 Network Cable For Each PC

Choosing and installing Ethernet Card

The cheapest 10/100 Mbps card I found online was $3. The quality and performance of an ethernet card depends on the network processor and integrated cache memory. Most of the time you will see that, the more performance and cache, the more expensive the card. For a small network, if you are not a bandwidth monster or a power user, it is not very important. It is possible to find Gigabit Desktop Ethernet cards for about $60, but Gigabit switches are still very expensive. If you would like to buy a quality 10/100 ethernet card as opposed to an inexpensive one, it will cost about $30 each.

To install a network card shut down your PC. Find a PCI slot in your system and install the card. I prefer to avoid the first PCI slot next to AGP Slot. In most of the systems, it shares the same interrupt with the AGP slot and you may experience problems. Before turning on your PC, be sure that the driver diskette or CD and your OS Setup CD is ready. When you turn on your system, it will find the new card and ask for the drivers.

Choosing and installing network cables

You may easily find CAT5 Network cables with RJ45 connectors at your nearby computer store. You can buy them in many different colors and lengths. The limit is 100 meters with quality CAT5 cables. When networking only two computers without a hub/switch/router, you have to by a crossover cable. It can be tricky to find. There are eight connections inside a CAT5 cable and it is wired differently for a crossover cable. CAT5 and crossover cables are cheap and they cost a couple of dollars each.

Installation of the cable is kid stuff. Just plug the cable to the ethernet and/or hub till it clicks.

Choosing your hub/switch

If you want to share your internet connection, see step #4 "Choosing Your IP Sharer/Router or Router/Switch Combo" for the BEST configuration for a small network.

Buy a Fast Ethernet (10/100 MBps) switch. You can find them as cheap as $20. You can buy an old 10MBps Hub for around $7. Even for slowest PC to PC connection, it is worth paying just $10-15 more. Of course you can also buy a more expensive and hopefully better quality unit. When you are buying think of how many computers you will want to connect and select a model that has enough ports(and perhaps a couple to spare).

Installing is easy. Just plug the CAT5 cables to ports. If you see a port marked "uplink" or "to hub/switch" that is not the port for you. That port is to connect switches to switches. Sometimes there are buttons to change one ports role to uplink port. Don't use it.

4) Choosing Your IP Sharer/Router or Router/Switch Combo.

** Important Note: You have to ask your Broadband Service Provider if it is possible to share the connection by Router. A few of the service providers do not support this(such as AOL Broadband Connection).

If you already have a switch and network connection, or you need a lot of switch ports and you need to buy a special switch you may choose to buy a router or an ip sharer. For small office or home users I say buy a combo. For $50 there are combo devices includes 4 Port Switch/Router, or for $70, you can buy 4 Port Switch/Router/Firewall/Printer sharer. For instance the Dlink D704P: In addition to Switch/Router/Firewall/Printer sharer there is a serial port. You can even connect a modem to it. In case of a Broadband problem you may configure a Dial-Up account. This is the best solution. You may share one printer and save the money for this device! For network sharing the computer to which you connected your printer, always has to be on. If you use this combo, in addition to the other functions you may turn on and off any PC without affecting the networking of any other PC. There is a simple firewall integrated in this box. So for an additional $40-50 on your switch you may have the best solution for small networks.

Installation is easy. Connect your Cable or DSL modem by the cable supplied to WAN port and plug CAT5 cables coming from your PCs to RJ45 ports. And watch the blinking lights.

Jump to: Basic Network Setup for Windows XP

Jump to: Basic Network Setup for Windows 98SE


  1. Basic Network Setup for Windows XP
  2. How to Find and Connect Shared Folders and Printer
  3. Preparing Dial-up Connections for Windows XP
  4. Preparing your Ethernet/Router Connection for Windows XP