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Creating a Wired Local Area Network (Windows 7)

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This document pertains to HP and Compaq computers and workstations with Windows 7.
Windows 7 supports connection of multiple computers in a home network. Connecting multiple computers in a network can be a convenient way to share files in the home. This document provides instructions for setting up and sharing folders and files on a wired home network.
For more information on a given step, click the heading or the accompanying plus (+) sign to expand the information.

Setting up a local network and file sharing in Windows 7

Use the steps in this section to set up a home network using standard RJ-45 hardware and cables.
NOTE:When using steps involving Windows, log in using the main administrative account. Normally this is the first account that was created when the computer was first turned on.

Before you begin setting up a local network in Windows 7

Confirm that you have the following hardware and follow these steps:
  • Network interface card (NIC) or an on-the-motherboard network port for each computer. HP and Compaq computers are network ready with NICs installed. Confirm the computer has a RJ-45 network port on the back.
    Figure 1: Shape of RJ-45 connector
  • Network hub (or router). A separate network hub may not be necessary if your home is already equipped with RJ-45 jacks in the walls or if your DSL or cable modem provides RJ-45 ports (select models). If you need a network hub, consult with a network specialist at your local computer store to determine a hub that meets your needs.
    NOTE:A crossover cable can be used to connect two computers without a hub. However, it only allows two computers to connect and is not expandable.
  • Network cables for each computer.
  • Disconnect the Internet. If you have a DSL or cable modem, disconnect it.
  • Disable any firewall software. Firewall software may interfere with network setup. You can enable the firewall after network setup is complete.

Step 1: Connecting the network hardware and cables to set up a local network

Do the following to set up the network hardware and connect the networking cables.
  1. Set up and turn on the power for the network hub or other networking device. (Follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer).
  2. Connect the computers to the networking device. If a crossover cable is used, connect the cable to the RJ45 network ports on each computer.
    Figure 2: Example of one possible setup configuration
  3. Connect the computer power cords and turn the computers on.

Step 2: Turning on Network discovery and file sharing in Windows 7

Turn on Network discovery and file sharing on each computer that you want to access on the network. Follow these steps to begin setting up the network:
  1. Click Start , and then click Control Panel .
  2. Under Network and Internet, click Choose Homegroup and sharing options .
    Figure 3: Network and Internet
    Network and Internet section of Control Panel
  3. In the Homegroup settings window, click Change advanced sharing settings .
    Figure 4: Homegroup settings
    Homegroup settings window
  4. Turn on network discovery and file and printer sharing. Review the other settings and turn them on or off.
    Figure 5: Advanced sharing settings
    Advanced sharing settings
  5. Click Save changes .

Step 3: Sharing drives, folders, and files in a Windows 7 network

To share non-public folders with other computers on a local network, follow these steps:
  1. Click Start , and then click Computer .
  2. Browse to the folder you want to share.
  3. Right-click the folder, select Share with , and then click Homegroup (Read) , Homegroup (Read/Write) , or Specific people .
    Figure 6: Share with menu options
    Image of Share with menu options
  4. If you chose Specific people , the File Sharing window displays.
  5. Click the down arrow and select the account you want to share with, and then click Add .
    NOTE:A User Account Control might open. You must accept this Window to make the necessary changes.
    Figure 7: File Sharing window
    File Sharing window
  6. Click an arrow under Permission Level to set the permission level for each account or group.
  7. Click Share .

Step 4: Testing a local network in Windows 7

Open the Windows 7 network window and browse through the shared folders in each computer on the network. If the computer is able to read and access files from a remote computer, the remote computer is set up correctly. Browse to every available computer from each computer on the network. If there are any issues, go back through these steps and verify that the settings are correct.
For more information, refer to the section Accessing shared files and directories in Windows 7 .
When all computers are able to network to each other on the network, continue with the next step to enable Internet access and the firewall.

Step 5: Enabling Internet access and firewall for a local network

Once you have verified that your home network is capable of transferring files, connect and enable Internet connections for computers with Internet access.
CAUTION:Make sure that each computer with Internet access is well protected from security threats. At the minimum, each computer should have its Internet connection protected with a firewall and Windows should be updated with the latest critical updates from Microsoft Windows Update. If malicious activity comes though one computer, the activity can quickly spread through the entire network.

Accessing shared files and directories in Windows 7

Do the following to access shared files and directories in a local network:
  1. Click Start , click Control Panel , click Network and Internet , and then click Network and Sharing Center .
  2. Double-click Network .
    Figure 8: Network and Sharing Center
    Network and Sharing Center
  3. The Network window opens and displays computers with shared folders that are detected on local networks.
    Figure 9: Computers on the network with shared folders
    Network window
  4. Double-click the computer you want to access.
NOTE:When accessing shared files or directories the following error message window may display:
Figure 10: Cannot access PC
Windows cannot access PCThis error can be caused by the following:
  • Password Protection is On and the Guest account is On .
  • The account does not have permission to access the share. This typically occurs when specific permissions are set up on systems with multiple share folders.
    NOTE:Windows 7 file sharing displays all the shared folders, even those you do not have permission to access.
    To resolve the error, verify the following:
    • The account has the proper permissions to access the computer.
    • The computer name and account name are spelled correctly.
    • Make sure that Firewall software on any connected computer is set to allow access.
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