5.1.1. Network Two Computers

THE ANNOYANCE: I want to set up a home network, but I can't figure out what I need to make it work. I thought Gosford Park was confusing, but this is ridiculous!

THE FIX: Well, to start with you need at least two computers, and a way to connect them. If you're assembling a wired Ethernet network, you're in luck: almost every PC manufactured after 1998 or so has a built-in Ethernet Network Interface Card (NIC). (Many newer PCsand nearly all laptops produced after 2003also include wireless cards.)

For the most part, network cables have gone the way of the dinosaur, because of the convenience offered by wireless networking. But cables still offer a fast, hassle-free connection that's susceptible to neither interference (see "Increase Range and Improve Reception") nor intruders (see "Surf Safely at the Coffee Shop"). If you decide to go the cable route, you'll need category-5 patch cables to connect each PC to your router. (If you're setting up a wireless network, you'll also need one of these cables to connect the wireless router to your DSL or cable modem, as discussed later in this chapter.) Or, for a quick-and-dirty two-PC network without a router, a single category-5 crossover cable will do in a pinch.

Of course, you'll also need a router, which serves as a hub for the aforementioned cables. (If you want to connect any computers wirelessly, you'll need to get a wireless router that includes a built-in access point.) Routers let you share an Internet connection among any number of computers, and even offer protection from the outside world by way of a built-in firewall (for more on firewalls, see "Set Up a Wireless Network").

After you've properly installed the drivers for your network adapters (wireless or otherwise), Windows should do the rest without much help from youbut unfortunately, it doesn't always work out that way. (If you run into trouble installing the network adapters or other hardware, turn to Chapter 6.)

You can fix most simple configuration problems by completing the cumbersome Network Setup Wizard on all PCs in your network. Open the Network Connections control panel, and click the "Set up a home or small office network" link on the left side. (Or, if you don't see the Network Tasks pane, double-click the Network Setup Wizard icon.) Click the Next button on the first few pages, and then answer the questions as follows:

  • If you're asked about disconnected network hardware, place a check-mark next to the "Ignore disconnected network hardware" option, and click the Next button.

  • On the "Select a connection method" page, choose Other, and click the Next button.

  • On the "Other Internet connection methods" page, choose the "This computer connects to the Internet directly…" option, and then click the Next button.

  • When asked for a computer name, choose a unique, one-word name for your PC (each computer must have a different name), leave the description field blank, and click the Next button.

  • On the "Name your network" page, Windows will automatically name your network "MSHOME," even if you've previously typed a different network name. Type a new name if you want, but make sure all the other PCs on your network share the same network name. Click the Next button.

  • On the "File and printer sharing" page, choose the "Turn on file and printer sharing" option if you want to exchange files over your network (see "Share Files with Other Computers"), and then click the Next button.

Proceed through the following (mostly pointless) screens by clicking the Next button, and when you arrive at the "You're almost done" page, choose "Just finish the wizard." Click the Next button, and then click the Finish button. Whew!

Back in the Network Connections window, select View Details to show the pertinent information. Right-click the "LAN or High-Speed Internet" connection you're using, and select Properties. Then, select Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) from the list and click the Properties button to show the Internet Protocol (TCP/ IP) Properties dialog box (see Figure 5-1).

Figure 5-1. You may have to manually configure TCP/IP properties to get your PC noticed on your network.

In most cases, selecting the "Obtain an IP address automatically" and "Obtain DNS server address automatically" options will suffice. If, however, you can't get your network to work with automatic addressing, try the following settings:

  1. Choose the "Use the following IP address" option.

  2. In the IP address field, type (When you configure the second PC on your network, type in the IP address box. For the third PC, type, and so on.)

    Note: Often, networks don't work because Windows and your router fail to negotiate the correct addresses automatically. The first three numbers in each PC's IP address (e.g., 192.168.1.) must exactly match the first three numbers in the IP address of your routerusually or you can get from your router's documentation. Only the last number (e.g., 100, 101, 102) must be different for each PC.
  3. In the Subnet mask field, type

  4. In the Default gateway field, type the IP address of your router (usually or

  5. In the "Preferred DNS server" and "Alternate DNS server" fields, type the IP addresses of your ISP's primary and secondary DNS servers, respectively. Contact your ISP or visit your ISP's web site for this information.

  6. Click OK in both boxes when you're done.

Note: The addresses you type for the subnet mask, gateway, and DNS servers should be the same for all PCs on your network.

These "static IP" numbers will help ensure that all the PCs on your network can communicate reliably with each other. For best results, set static IP addresses on all the PCs on your network.

Return to the Network Connections window when you're done. The Status column shows whether or not a connection has been established (e.g., "Connected" or "Network cable unplugged").

If it says "Acquiring network address," it means Windows is in the process of establishing a connection; if you see this for more than, say, 10 seconds, it means your router isn't automatically assigning your PC a proper IP address. If you're connecting wirelessly, this error typically appears when you haven't supplied the necessary WPA or WEP security key (see "Connect to a Wireless Network"). For wired networks, this error could indicate a problem with the router, the cabling, or the NIC and its drivers. If the "Obtain an IP address automatically" option is selected in the TCP/IP Properties dialog box for your network connection, try specifying a static IP address, as described earlier, to fix this problem.

If the status column says "Limited or no connectivity," it usually means a connection has been established but your IP address is incorrect; make sure that the first three numbers in your PC's IP address match the first three numbers in your router's IP address, and that the fourth is different from any other PC on your network.

5.1.2. Share Files with Other Computers

THE ANNOYANCE: I need to access a bunch of documents on my office desktop PC from my laptop. I want to open the files over the network and avoid the whole CD/floppy/USB drive shuffle, but I can't get it to work.

THE FIX: There are a handful of steps you need to take to configure your PCs before you can exchange files between them on your network:

  1. Complete the Network Setup Wizard on each PC on your network (see "Network Two Computers"), and make sure you enable file sharing when prompted.

  2. If you're using Windows XP Professional or Windows XP Media Center Edition, open Windows Explorer, select Tools Folder Options, and choose the View tab. Remove the checkmark next to the "Use simple file sharing (Recommended)" option, and click OK. (This option is not available in Windows XP Home Edition.)

  3. The next step is to formally share the appropriate folder on the main PC. Open Windows Explorer and navigate to the folder containing the files you want to open remotely. Right-click the folder, select Properties, and choose the Sharing tab.

    In Windows XP Home, check the "Share this folder on the network" box. In Windows XP Professional and Media Center Edition, select the "Share this folder" option (see Figure 5-2). (If Windows asks whether you understand the "risks," confirm that you indeed wish to enable file sharing.)

    Enter a descriptive name in the "Share name" field. This is the name used for your folder when you view it over the network.

    Note: If you're using Windows XP Home Edition and the "Share this folder on the network" option is grayed out, remove the checkmark next to the "Make this folder private" option. If that option is grayed out as well, click the "another folder" link at the bottom of the window, remove the checkmark next to the "Make this folder private" option on the window that appears, and click OK. Then return to the folder you want to share and try again.

    Figure 5-2. To allow the exchange of files over a network, use the "Share this folder on the network" option in XP Home Edition (left) or the "Share this folder" option in XP Professional/MCE (right).

    Note: If you're using Windows XP Professional and you want to share the entire drive (not just the folder), see "Share an Entire Drive," later in this chapter.
  4. If you want to be able to remotely modify, delete, or create new files in this folder, you must set the permissions accordingly. In XP Home, just place a checkmark next to the "Allow network users to change my files" option. In XP Professional, click the Permissions button and follow the steps in "Protect Shared Files,"

  5. When you're done, click OK. A little hand icon will appear over the yellow folder icon to identify it as shared.

But you're not finished yet! For the sake of security, the desktop computer holding the files you want to share must have a password associated with the owner of the files, as described in "Protect Shared Files." (By default, user accounts don't have passwords in Windows XP.) What's more, users trying to access those files remotely must be able to provide the same user-name and password. This user validation may be transparent or may require a login, depending on who owns the files:

  • When you first connect to the PC with the shared files, Windows will check to see if the usernames of the owner of the shared files and the one using the remote PC are the same. If the usernames are different, Windows will ask for a username and password. For example, if "Jane" on one computer tries to read the files on a computer belonging to "Rutiger," Jane will be required to type Rutiger as well as Rutiger's password in order to access the shared files.

  • If the username is the same on both PCs, the passwords must match. For example, if "Rutiger," while logged into one computer, tries to access files belonging to "Rutiger" on another computer, and each Rutiger account has precisely the same password, Windows will grant access to the files without any prompt at all. But if the passwords on both accounts don't match exactly, Windows may not let you in, even if you type the correct username/password combination into the login box. The solution: just change one of the passwords so they match.

Note: Once you choose a password, Windows will ask you for it every time you power up your PC. To skip this step, see "Log in Automatically."

Once you have the user accounts and passwords straightened out on all your PCs, open Windows Explorer on the remote computerthe one accessing the files on that desktop PCand navigate to the My Network Places folder, shown in Figure 5-3.

Figure 5-3. Use the My Network Places folder to access shared folders on other PCs.

You may see several familiar-looking folders in My Network Places, such as My Documents on Laptop or C on Desktop. Windows Explorer automatically creates these folder shortcuts to provide easy access to frequently accessed shares. If you don't see the folder you want here, don't panic; just open the Entire Network folder, then Microsoft Windows Network, then the name of your workgroup (e.g., MSHOME), and finally the name of the PC with the files you want (e.g., Desktop).

Note: Want to share bits of data without hassling with files? The Copycat utility, free from, automatically transfers the contents of your clipboard (used to hold data that you cut or copy) to all the PCs on your network. Just highlight some text on one machine, and press Ctrl-C; then, on another PC, press Ctrl-V to paste it anywhere you like!

Note: If you don't see the other PC in your workgroup, see "Find Missing Computers in My Network Places." If you get an "Access is denied" error at any point, it means the owner of the files on the other computer has set permissions to keep you from messing with his data. If you have control over the other PC, see "Protect Shared Files" for help.

Inside the folder, you'll find a listing of the folders, printers, and (for some reason) scheduled tasks shared on that PC. Open any shared folder to access the files therein as though they were stored on your own hard disk: copy or move via drag and drop, rename, delete, or just double-click to open the files in place.

5.1.3. Find Missing Computers in My Network Places

THE ANNOYANCE: I'm trying to open a file on another PC on my network, but it doesn't show up in My Network Places. This is driving me crazy!

THE FIX: This is a really common problem, and one that is not always easily solved.

First, a remote computer may not appear in My Network Places if it doesn't have any files or printers shared. See "Share Files with Other Computers" to set up file sharing or "List All Your Shared Folders" to see what's being shared on any PC.

Shared folders on remote PCs can show up in two places in the My Network Places folder: shortcuts to previously accessed folders sometimes appear right in the My Network Places folder itself, but for a complete list, navigate to \Entire Network\Microsoft Windows Network, open your network (e.g., MSHOME), and then open any PC to show its shared folders and printers.

Also, you may or may not see a PC that is in another workgroup in the Microsoft Windows Network folder in My Network Places. If you don't see the other workgroup, and you have control over the other PC, change its workgroup name to match the rest of the PCs on your network. Open the System control panel (or right-click My Computer and select Properties), and then choose the Computer Name tab. The name of your PC, as well as the workgroup to which it belongs, is shown here (see Figure 5-4); click the Change button to rename the PC or join a different workgroup. All the PCs on your network should belong to the same workgroup, but no two PCs should share the same computer name.

Figure 5-4. Use System Properties to change your PC's computer name and workgroup.

If the workgroup matches but the PC still doesn't show up, one trick that often works is to type the name of the PC directly into Windows Explorer's address bar. (If you don't see the address bar, select View Toolbars Address Bar.) Erase the text in the address bar, and type two backslashes followed by the missing PC's name, like this:


where misterx is the name of the remote PC. Press Enter, and with luck and about 510 seconds of patienceWindows should list the shared folders on the remote computer.

If you still can't see the PC, make sure the network is functioning on both the remote computer and the local PC (the one you're sitting in front of). If they're both connected to a router that provides a shared Internet connection, for instance, open a web browser on each PC to test the connection. If you can load a web site, the network is working.

Often, you can force stubborn computers to show up by setting a static IP address for each PC on your network, as described in "Network Two Computers." Then use the ping command to test connectivity. Select Start Run, type cmd, and click OK to open a Command Prompt window, and then type:


In this example, is the IP address of the remote PC; replace this with the appropriate address. If you get a reply like the following from the remote machine, it means your computer can see and successfully communicate with that machine on your network:

	Reply from bytes=32 time=3ms TTL=64

If, on the other hand, you see a timeout message like this, the connection is broken:

	Request timed out.

File sharing will not work as long as ping returns this error, so your best bet is to check your hardware and IP address settings instead of toiling with the My Network Places folder.

If the network checks out but you still can't see the remote PC, try restarting both computers and resetting your router (refer to your router's instructions for the reset procedure).

If one of the PCs is running an older operating system (particularly Windows 95 or 98), see "Connect to a Windows 9X/Me PC."

If all else fails, it's likely a problem with the hardware. Try replacing the cables if you have a wired network, or see "Increase Range and Improve Reception," later in this chapter, if you have a wireless network. For help with updating drivers, replacing network adapters, and resolving hardware conflicts, see Chapter 6.

5.1.4. Protect Shared Files

THE ANNOYANCE: I want to share a bunch of files with other PCs on my network, but I'm worried that doing so will allow anyone to see them. How do I protect my data?

THE FIX: Any computer connected to your PC over a networkincluding the several billion machines on the Internetmay be able to access the files in your shared folders. Thus, the best way to protect your data is to not share it in the first place. If you need to share files, exclude folders that contain particularly sensitive data. See "List All Your Shared Folders" for a comprehensive list of shared folders on your PC, and then take advantage of XP's security features, such as they are, to protect the rest of your files.

The first thing you need to do is set a password for your user account. Open the User Accounts control panel, select your account from the list, and then click "Create a password." Type your password twice, followed by a clue to act as a reminder down the road (you may well need it), and then click the Create Password button when you're done. Thereafter, anyone wanting to access your files from another computer on your network will have to supply the password (with some exceptions for Windows XP Professional).

Now, unless you employ some sort of firewall anyone outside your local networknamely, everyone on the Internetcan access your data (and yes, no matter how uninteresting you may think the contents of your PC are, this can happen to you). Windows XP comes with the "Windows Firewall," a feeble software-based solution, but nothing beats a hardware firewall placed between you and the rest of the world. If you don't have one already, get yourself a router for this purpose, as described in "Set Up a Wireless Network."

What About Encryption?

Windows XP Professional also has some built-in data encryption features, but encryption offers no more protection than restrictive permissions when using shared folders. Rather, encryption is designed to protect your data from those who use your PC directly, either by sitting in front of it or by remote control using Terminal Services (a.k.a. Remote Desktop). For more information about the ins and outs of encryption, as well as Remote Desktop, see O'Reilly's Windows XP Annoyances for Geeks, Second Edition, by David A. Karp.

Warning: If you're using a wireless network, anyone within range may be able to join your network and access your files, unless you follow the steps in "Surf Safely at the Coffee Shop."

For any more protection, you'll need to use permissions, which are special settings that control precisely who can do what to your files. Permissions are available only in Windows XP Professional (and Media Center Edition); if you're using Windows XP Home, your ability to protect your data effectively stops here.

On an XP Pro system, every file, folder, and drive has two sets of permissions you can set: permissions for local users (other people sitting at your PC), and permissions for anyone accessing your files through a shared folder. To set the permissions for a shared folder, right-click the folder, select Properties, choose the Sharing tab, and then click the Permissions button.

The Share Permissions window, shown in Figure 5-5, shows a list of configured users in the top list, and the specific things the selected user is allowed to do down below.

Figure 5-5. Set sharing permissions to protect your data from intruders (or just to keep the kids from accidentally messing up your stuff).

First, make sure your own username appears in the upper list; if it doesn't, or if it merely shows "Everyone" (like the one in Figure 5-5), click the Add button. Type your usernameor the username of the person you want to be able to access your stuffin the "Enter the object names to select" field, and then click the Check Names button. If Windows underlines what you've typed, the username is okay; otherwise, you'll get a "Name not Found" message. Click OK when you're done adding names.

Next, highlight your username in the "Group or user names" list, and place checkmarks in the boxes in the Allow column below as you see fit. Want others to be able to read the files in this folder but not change any of them? Put a checkmark in the Read box, but not in the Full Control or Change boxes.

Note: In most cases, you won't have to bother with the checkboxes in the Deny column unless you start messing with "groups" of users. Permission to carry out a given action is implicitly denied as long as there's no checkmark in the corresponding Allow box.

If you want to deny any user access to your filesparticularly the self-explanatory "Everyone"highlight the username, and click the Remove button. Now, any user who is not expressly listed here (or included in any groups listed here) will not have access to your shared files.

When you're done, click OK. The changes take effect immediately and apply to the selected folder share, as well as to all subfolders and files contained therein.

Note: By adding someone else's username to the Permissions window, you can protect your data without handing over your username and password. If your PC is part of an NT domain (typical in a corporate environment), you can add users from your domain or even another domain by clicking the Locations button to change the scope of the user validation. But on a home network, you'll need to create a new user account on your PC (using the User Accounts control panel) before you can type it into the Permissions window.

5.1.5. Share an Entire Drive

THE ANNOYANCE: I looked at the Sharing tab for my C: drive, and the "Share this folder" option is selected, meaning the drive is currently being shared. However, I don't see it in My Network Places. What's going on?

THE FIX: In Windows XP Professional (and Media Center Edition), all drives are shared automatically. For instance, the Sharing tab for drive C: on your PC probably looks like the one shown in Figure 5-6. (None of this applies to Windows XP Home.)

Figure 5-6. Each hard disk on your PC may already be shared.

Microsoft calls this an administrative share, and it's enabled by default so that tools such as the Computer Management utility (accessed by going to Start Run and typing compmgmt.msc) running on a remote computer can operate on your PC. The dollar sign at the end of the share name (e.g., C$) identifies it as a hidden share, which means it won't ever show up in My Network Places. All it takes to view a hidden share is to type the share name into Windows Explorer's address bar, like this:


In this example, mycomp is the name of your computer. Provided there aren't any password or permission restrictions (see "Protect Shared Files"), anyone can access the files in this shared folder as readily as any non-hidden share. (For more on hidden shares, see "List All Your Shared Folders.")

Warning: Yes, administrative shares indeed constitute a potential security risk, as they allow access to any files on your hard disk, whether they're in folders you've specifically shared or not. If you want to remove administrative shares for good, see "Turn Off Administrative Shares."

Now, you can use these administrative shares to access your drives remotely, as explained earlier, but if you want to share your drive so that it shows up in My Network Places, just click the New Share button at the bottom of the window. In the New Share dialog box, type a share name (e.g., C), set any permissions, and click OK.

Note: Concerned about security? Instead of sharing the entire drive, just share the individual folders you need to access across your network.

5.1.6. List All Your Shared Folders

THE ANNOYANCE: I know a folder is being shared when I see that little hand icon on top of the yellow folder icon. But all it takes is one forgotten share to leave my private files open to prying eyes. Can I get a comprehensive, reliable list of everything being shared on my PC?

THE FIX: You can simply open the My Network Places folder in Windows Explorer and navigate through Entire Network to find your PC and a list of all its shared resources, but this listing doesn't necessarily show everything that's being shared. Specifically, any hidden shares are, well, hidden.

To view all your network sharesincluding the hidden onesselect Start Run, type compmgmt.msc, and click OK to open the Computer Management tool. In the System Tools branch on the left, click the [+] icon next to Shared Folders to expand it, and then highlight the Shares folder, as shown in Figure 5-7.

Figure 5-7. The Computer Management tool lists all the shared folders on your PC, including hidden ones you probably didn't even know existed.

Any share with a dollar sign at the end of its name (e.g., C$) is hidden. While hidden shares don't show up in My Network Places, you can access them just as readily as non-hidden shares, as explained in "Share an Entire Drive."

From here, you can right-click any share and select Stop Sharing to turn it off, making this window a very convenient place to quickly tighten up security on your system. If you add or remove any shares in Windows Explorer, press the F5 key or click the Refresh button on the toolbar to update the list.

Although you can stop sharing any hidden share (such as C$) in this window, Windows will recreate all administrative shares the next time you start your computer, in effect sharing every file on your PC whether you want it to or not. To stop this from happening, see "Turn Off Administrative Shares."

5.1.7. Turn Off Administrative Shares

THE ANNOYANCE: Windows insists on sharing my entire hard disk, despite the fact that I've only elected to share specific folders. What are administrative shares, and why can't I turn them off?

THE FIX: Hmm… it's almost as though Microsoft cares more about corporate strategy than the personal security of their customers. Funny, that.

If you're using Windows XP Professional (or Media Center Edition), your entire hard disk is indeed being shared on your network whether you like it or not (see "Share an Entire Drive" for details). If you open Windows Explorer, right-click drive C:, and select Sharing and Security, you'll see that the drive is already shared as C$. This is called an administrative share, and although the $ suffix makes it hidden in My Network Places, users on your network can still browse the sharethereby gaining access to all the files on your driveby typing the following path into Windows Explorer's address bar:


where mycomp is the name of your PC. Combine this with the fact that user accounts don't have passwords by default, and you'll see how insecure Windows XP can be. (See "Protect Shared Files" for further steps you should take to secure your system.)

Administrative shares allow network administrators to install software, run Disk Defragmenter, or perform other maintenance on your PC remotely. But unless you're in a corporate environment, you have nothing to gain by leaving this back door open… and everything to lose.

To patch this hole, open the Registry Editor (go to Start Run and type regedit), and navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\lanmanserver\parameters. In the right pane, double-click the AutoShareServer value, type 0 in the "Value data" field, and click OK. Then double-click the AutoShareWks value, type 0 in the "Value data" field, and click OK. Close the Registry Editor when you're done.

Next, go to Start Run, type compmgmt.msc, and click OK to open the Computer Management tool. In the System Tools branch on the left, click the [+] icon next to Shared Folders to expand it, and then highlight the Shares folder (see Figure 5-7 in "List All Your Shared Folders"). To manually remove the administrative shares, right-click each one (e.g., C$, D$, E$) and select Stop Sharing. Go ahead and remove any hidden share (anything with a dollar sign in the name), with the following three exceptions:

  • IPC$, which stands for Inter-Process Communication, is used for remote administration of your computer, something very few people need outside of a corporate environment. Although it has been proven that the IPC$ share can be exploited, the only way to disable it permanently is to turn off file sharing altogether. You can stop sharing IPC$ temporarily, but Windows will recreate the share the next time you restart.

  • print$ is used to exchange printer driver files when you share a printer. You should leave this share intact.

  • wwwroot$ will be present if Microsoft's Internet Information Server (IIS) software is installed. Leave this share intact if you want to use your computer as a web server or a web software development platform.

When you're done, restart your computer, and then reopen the Computer Management tool to check your work.

5.1.8. Speed Up Network Browsing

THE ANNOYANCE: It seems to take forever to browse the folders on the other PCs on my network. How can I speed things up?

THE FIX: The Scheduled Tasks folder, which appears in My Network Places along with your shared folders and printers, is responsible for much of the slowdown. Since the shared Scheduled Tasks folder takes so long to load, and has very little value to most Windows users, you can just turn off the share to speed things up.

Open the Registry Editor (select Start Run and type regedit), and navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\RemoteComputer\NameSpace. Inside the NameSpace key, you may see one or several subkeys, each responsible for a special shared folder. To see what any one of these subkeys does, select it and look at the (Default) value in the right pane.

To stop sharing Scheduled Tasks, just delete the {D6277990-4C6A-11CF-8D87-00AA0060F5BF} key.

While you're here, you can further improve performance by turning off the Printers and Faxes share. If you don't plan on sharing any printers, delete the {2227A280-3AEA-1069-A2DE-08002B30309D} key.

Close the Registry Editor when you're done. The change should take effect immediately.

Note: If, for some reason, you want to re-enable the Scheduled Tasks share, just recreate the subkey. Select Edit New Key and type {D6277990-4C6A-11CF-8D87-00AA0060F5BF} for its name.

5.1.9. Connect to a Windows 9X/Me PC

THE ANNOYANCE: I have an old Windows 98 system I need to network with my Windows XP machine, but I can't seem to get the two PCs to communicate.

THE FIX: Getting XP to happily communicate with Windows 9x machines over a network can be a bit of a chore. Fortunately, there are two tactics that usually solve the problem.

First, assign a static IP address to each PC on your network, regardless of the Windows version being used; see "Network Two Computers" for instructions.

Second, Windows 95 and Windows 98 (and occasionally Windows Me) install a driver called NetBEUI by default. NetBEUI is not compatible with Windows NTbased systems (such as Windows XP and 2000), and it can cause problems if installed on any system on your network. To remove NetBEUI from a Windows 95/98/Me system, open the Network control panel and choose the Configuration tab. If you see NetBEUI in the list, highlight it, and click the Remove button. Remove all instances of NetBEUI from this window, and then click OK when you're done. You'll probably have to restart your PC.

5.1.10. Find Missing Remote Printers

THE ANNOYANCE: I need to print to a printer that's physically connected to another PC on my network, but when I browse for the printer in the Add Printer Wizard, it never shows up. I also tried typing the printer's network address into the wizard without any luck, and the printer manufacturer is absolutely no help.

THE FIX: The traditional way to use a printer installedand sharedon another PC is to open the Printers and Faxes control panel and then click Add Printer. On the "Local or Network Printer" page, choose "A network printer, or a printer attached to another computer," and on the next page, choose "Browse for a printer." Unfortunately, a variety of problems can cause the printer to be absent from this screen.

First, make sure the PC to which the printer is connected is turned on, the network is working for all PCs involved, and the printer is indeed shared. On the remote PC (the one with the printer), open the Printers and Faxes control panel. Right-click the printer you'd like to share, select Properties, and then choose the Sharing tab. Select the "Share this printer" option, and then click OK.

If the printer is shared, and you're sure its driver supports network sharing, there's a quick workaround that usually works (although it won't solve the underlying problem, whatever that might be). Open Windows Explorer on a PC not directly connected to the printer, and click the My Network Places folder. Open Entire Network, then Microsoft Windows Network, then your workgroup (e.g., MSHOME), and then the PC to which the printer is attached. Inside, you'll find a Printers and Faxes folder, and inside that, you'll see all the printers shared on that PC. Right-click the printer you want to use, and select Connect.

If all goes well, the printer will show up in the Printers and Faxes dialog in 1020 seconds, and you should be able to print to it immediately thereafter.

Note: Note that some printers can't be shared (this problem may come up if the manufacturer sells a more expensive "network-ready" printer that they'd rather have you buy). Review your printer's documentation and check the manufacturer's web site for driver updates if you can't get sharing to work. Typically, printers suffering from this limitation do show up in the "Browse for a printer" list but display an error when you try to install the drivers or print remotely.

5.1.11. PC Slows When Accessed over the Network

THE ANNOYANCE: My PC slows to a crawl when someone reads a shared file on my hard disk over the network. I need to keep those shared folders active, but the performance slowdown interferes with my work. What can I do?

THE FIX: Although heavy network traffic can bog down a PC, it may indeed be nothing more than a hardware problem. Specifically, your network adapter may conflict with another hardware device in your system.

If you're using a desktop PC, shut down Windows, unplug the power cable, and crack open the case. Locate your network adapterthe card into which you plug your network cableremove the screw, pull out the card, and pop it into a different slot. Reassemble and turn on your PC and see if the problem goes away.

If, on the other hand, your NIC is integrated on the motherboard, it probably shares an IRQ with one of the PCI slots, and thus the PCI card in that slot may be causing the problem. Remove all nonessential PCI cards from your system, and start up Windows. If the problem persists, you may have to shuffle the remaining, essential PCI cards until you resolve the problem. If, on the other hand, the problem vanishes after you remove the PCI cards, shut down your PC and reinsert the cards one by one, reassembling and restarting your system after each insertion, until you find the culprit. If the culprit is a troublesome PCI slot, cover it with a piece of masking tape to remind yourself to keep it unoccupied.

If you're still stuck, you may need to update your network drivers or even replace your network hardware (see Chapter 6 for other hardware annoyances).

5.1.12. Log in Automatically

THE ANNOYANCE: I added a password to my Windows user account to protect my shared data, but now I have to type it every time I turn on my PC. Isn't there a way to skip this step?

THE FIX: It may seem ironic to create a password for your PC and then immediately override it with an automatic logon, but it's a perfect solution for a single-user PC on a home network. As described in "Protect Shared Files," your user account needs a password if you want to share files with other PCs on your network, particularly if you want to protect your data from intruders. But unless those intruders routinely walk by your computer, you can forgo having to type that password every time you start Windows.

To do this, go to Start Run, type control userpasswords2, and then click OK to open the alternate User Accounts window shown in Figure 5-8. (The standard User Accounts window in the Control Panel isn't sufficient for this task.)

Figure 5-8. Use the alternate User Accounts window to do things you can't do with the standard User Accounts window.

Remove the checkmark next to the "Users must enter a user name and password to use this computer" option, and click OK. In the Automatically Log On dialog box, type your username, enter your password twice, and click OK. The next time Windows starts, you'll skip the Welcome screen and go straight to your desktop.

5.1.13. Use the Administrator Account

THE ANNOYANCE: When I installed Windows, I had to choose an Administrator password and then create a separate user account for myself. Can I delete the superfluous account and simply use the Administrator account as my primary login?

THE FIX: You can, but only in Windows XP Professional and Media Center Edition. (Note: in MCE, the Administrator account is named "Media Center" by default.) In Windows XP Home, the Administrator account is restricted and can be used only when you start your PC in Safe Mode.

To log in as the Administrator, go to Start Log Off, and click the Log Off button. Once you see the Welcome screen, press Ctrl-Alt-Del twice to show the old-fashioned "Log On to Windows" dialog box. Type Administrator for the username, enter the Administrator password below, and click OK.

Once you've logged on as the Administrator, you can delete the superfluous user account from the User Accounts control panel. Of course, you'll lose all the settings from that account, so it may not be worth it if you've been using the account for some time.

To show the Administrator account on the Welcome screen, open the Registry Editor (go to Start Run and type regedit), navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\WindowsNT\CurrentVersion\ Winlogon\SpecialAccounts\UserList, select Edit New DWORD Value, and type Administrator for the name of the new value. Double-click the new Administrator value in the right pane and type 1 in the "Value data" field. When you're done, close the Registry Editor and restart Windows for the change to take effect.

Note: Don't know the Administrator password? Provided you're logged in as a user with administrator privileges (not the same as the Administrator account), you can choose a new password for the Administrator account in the alternate User Accounts window (go to Start Run and type control userpasswords2). Just highlight any user in the list other than Administrator, and then click the Reset Password button.