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8. How do I load up network protocols for my network and which should I choose?

For small networks by far the simplest (and also quickest) protocol is NetBEUI. The beauty of it compared with TCP/IP is that it is self configuring in that all you do is load it and it works without any settings at all. For networks up to 10 PC's without a windows 2000 server it also tends to be the quickest.
To load it right click on the Network Icon and choose "Properties" from the popup menu.

This should give you a dialog similar to the one below

Click the configuration tab and you will see a box underneath with installed components. The most important thing here is that you have installed "Client for Microsoft Networks", some form of ethenet adapter (such as the Realtek RTL8139 shown above - though of course it doesn't have to be Realtek, provided it is some form of PCI ethernet adapter then generally you shouldn't have any problems with connecting). By default on a new windows installation it will also show the TCP/IP protocol installed for all installed adapters. Personally for the small home network I tend to remove the TCP/IP for the ethernet adapter (though of course you must leave it for the dial up adapter or your internet won't work !!!). If you find any other protocols installed I would tend to remove them too so that your computer is in no doubt about which protocol it should use for which purpose. There are two major exceptions to this rule. The first is if you are using Internet Connection Sharing to share your internet / e-mail between computers - in which case leave the TCP/IP for the ethernet adapter as internet connection sharing will use it. The second is for network gaming which may use IPX/SPX protocol so you may require either to install that or to leave it installed if it already shows.
With all this decided it is time to load up the NetBEUI protocol by selecting the ADD button to give you the dialog below

Choose "Protocol" and select ADD to give you

Select "Microsoft" in the left pane and "NetBEUI" in the right pane and choose OK. Depending on how windows was originally loaded on your system the next screen may ask you for your windows95/98 cd so have it ready, and then the protocol will be loaded on. This will take you back to the Network dialog box.

Click on "File and Print Sharing" to bring the dialog below

Tick both options and click OK (be ready again with your windows CD in case it wants it) and when it has finished and it will take you back to the network dialog where you should choose the "Identification" tab as below

Give your computer a friendly name (making sure that it is different for every computer on your network) and decide on a workgroup name such as the unadventurous "WORKGROUP" one above or a stylish one of your own. Finally choose the "Access Control" tab as below

Make sure you are using "Share level access control" (unless you are using an NT4 Server or Windows 2000 Server) and you can finally click OK. Windows will tell you windows needs to be restarted. Select OK and when windows re-starts the protocol will be loaded and ready for use. Assuming you have protocols loaded on more than one PC then when you make the physical cable connections you should have a network.

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