Steve has written several articles, with step-by-step, illustrated instructions, that are available on the PracticallyNetworked web site.
The ICS articles show how to use Microsoft's Internet Connection Sharing program, which enables one computer to share its Internet connection with other computers on a network:
Installation [Windows 98 Second Edition] (revision of article by Tim
ICS Installation [Windows Me]
ICS Client Setup [Windows 95, 98, Me] (revision of article by Tim Higgins)
ICS for Windows 2000 - Broadband WAN Connection
ICS for Windows 2000 - Dial-Up WAN Connection
ICS for Windows 2000 - Client Setup
The Windows XP articles show how to network with the newest version of Windows:
Adding Windows XP to an Existing Network
Windows XP Internet Connection Sharing
Windows XP Professional File Sharing (with Ron Lowe)
Windows XP Network Troubleshooting
There's a lot of misinformation about Windows networking on web sites and in news groups and support forums. Don't let it sidetrack you when you set up and troubleshoot your network! Steve's article Windows Networking Myths clears up several of the most common myths.
Some web sites claim to have all the answers and to be able to fix any and all problems with Windows networking. Don't believe them! Networking is too complicated for anyone to have all the answers. Anyone who makes such a claim is clearly not a reliable source of help or accurate information.
Please keep these points in mind while reading the questions and answers below:
1. Windows 95 and 98 show networked computers in Network Neighborhood. Double click a computer to see its shared disks and folders.
2. Windows Me, 2000, and XP show shared disks and folders in My Network Places.
3. An essential step in network troubleshooting is to disable all firewall programs, such as ZoneAlarm, BlackICE Defender, and Norton Internet Security. If they're improperly configured, they can prevent the network from working correctly.
4. Several of the answers say to use Tweak UI, a tool written by the Microsoft Windows Shell Development Team. Tweak UI Version 1.33, which runs on Windows 95, 98, 98SE, Me, and 2000, is available from this Microsoft download site. You can install Tweak UI 1.33 over earlier versions.
Q: Why won't Dial-Up Networking save my password?
A: Go to Control Panel | Network and see if Client for Microsoft Networks is installed. If it isn't, install it (click Add | Client | Add | Microsoft | Client for Microsoft Networks | OK) and then set the Primary Network Logon to Windows Logon.
Do you get a login box when Windows starts? If so, don't bypass it by clicking Cancel or pressing Escape.
Please see these Microsoft Knowledge Base articles for more information:
Dial-Up Networking Password Is Not Saved
Save Password Check Box Is Unavailable
Damaged Password List File Does Not Save Passwords
No Windows or Network Logon Dialog Box at Startup
Q: When Windows starts, I don't get a logon prompt, and no computers are visible in Network Neighborhood. If I log out, a logon prompt appears, and everything works. How can I get the logon prompt to appear the first time?
A: This is common problem in Windows 95/98/Me. It can happen even when you've done everything right. The most likely fix is to run the registry editor, open this registry key:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\ Network\Real Mode Net
and delete the value named "AutoLogon".
Please see this Microsoft Knowledge Base article for more information:
No Windows or Network Logon Dialog Box at Startup
Q: Windows won't dial my ISP when I start my web browser or e-mail program. I have to manually start my Dial-Up Networking connection first. How can I make it dial automatically?
A: Go to Control Panel | Internet | Connections and make sure that it's configured to dial when necessary. If this doesn't help, see this Microsoft Knowledge Base article:
Internet-Based Programs Do Not Dial Automatically
Q: How can I get Network Neighborhood to appear on the desktop?
A: Run Tweak UI, go to the Desktop tab, put a check mark in the Network Neighborhood box, and click Apply and OK.
If this doesn't work, go to Control Panel | Network. Remove Client for Microsoft Networks if it's present. Then add Client for Microsoft Networks.
There might be a system policy hiding Network Neighborhood. Run the registry editor, open this key:
and delete the value named "NoNetHood".
Q: When Windows starts it always gives me a logon prompt. I cancel it, but it comes up again the next time. How can I get rid of it?
Set the primary network logon to Windows Logon and use an empty password, as described in this Microsoft Knowledge Base article:
How to Prevent a Windows 95, Windows 98, or Windows Me Logon Prompt at Startup
There are two situations in which this won't work:
All peer-to-peer networking functions are available when using Windows Logon as the primary network logon.
Q: Windows 98 takes forever to connect to my ISP. It says "Logging on to network..." and just sits there. What's happening?
A: Go to My Computer | Dial-Up Networking. Right click your connection and select Properties. On the Server Types tab, un-check the "Log on to network" box.
Q: I'm setting up a local area network and want to use TCP/IP and private IP addresses. What IP addresses should I use?
A: The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority has reserved the following ranges of IP addresses for use in private networks:
10.0.0.0 - 10.255.255.255
172.16.0.0 - 172.31.255.255
192.168.0.0 - 192.168.255.255
Examples of private network addresses are:
10.0.0.1, 10.0.0.2, 10.0.0.3, ..., subnet mask 255.0.0.0
192.168.0.1, 192.168.0.2, 192.168.0.3, ..., subnet mask 255.255.255.0.
Q: How can I get rid of the Network Neighborhood icon on the desktop?
A: Run Tweak UI, go to the Desktop tab, un-check the "Network Neighborhood" box, click Apply, exit with OK, and reboot.
Q: I want to copy files from one computer to another, but there are too many files to do it with floppy disks. Can I connect them using a cable?
A: There are many ways to connect two Windows computers:
1. Use the DOS programs Interlnk and Intersvr to make a serial or parallel port connection. File transfer is possible only from the Intersvr machine to the Interlnk machine.
2. Use Direct Cable Connection to make a serial or parallel port connection. File transfer is possible only from the "host" machine to the "guest" machine.
3. Create a peer-to-peer Ethernet network. You install an Ethernet adapter on each machine and connect them with networking cables. Most Ethernet adapters plug into PCI or ISA slots inside the machines. If you don't want to open the machines, use Ethernet adapters which connect to USB ports.
Ethernet connection has these advantages over the others listed above:
Here are some web sites for more information:
Direct Cable Connection
Q: Why can't my Windows 95 computer see my Windows 98 computer in Network Neighborhood?
A: There's a bug in the original version of Windows 98 which can prevent other computers from seeing it in Network Neighborhood.
To work around the problem, you can access the Windows 98 machine from Windows 95 through Start | Find | Computer or Start | Run | \\computer_name
To fix the problem, do any one of these:
1. Install the "Windows 98 Customer Service Pack" from Microsoft. To get it, go to the Windows Update site, click Product Updates, scroll down to the Recommended Updates section, check the appropriate box, and click Download.
2. Disable Browse Master on all Windows 98 machines and enable it on one Windows 95 machine. This setting is found in the File and Printer Sharing properties.
3. Remove the NetBEUI protocol and use IPX/SPX (with NetBIOS enabled) as the default protocol.
Please see this site for more information. This Microsoft Knowledge Base article describes the bug, which is fixed in Windows 98 Second Edition:
Computer with Plug and Play Network Adapter Is Not Found
Q: Some of my computers are not appearing in Network Neighborhood on other computers. What's wrong?
A: There are so many possible causes that people have created web sites devoted to this question:
Troubleshooting Browsing with Client for Microsoft Networks
Troubleshooting Windows 95/98/98 Second Edition Network Connection Problems
Trouble Shooting Center
Q: I have a computer running MS-DOS. How can I get it to share files on my network?
A: Download and install the DOS networking client and server files from Microsoft. J. Helmig has provided detailed instructions at his excellent networking web site:
Connecting from a DOS-system to an NT4 Server (also works with Windows 95/98/Me)
Connecting from a DOS-system using TCP/IP
DOS-based Microsoft Network Server
Q: I use my laptop computer to connect to the network at work. I want to bring it home and connect it to my LAN, but I don't want to have to change all the network settings by hand every time I switch. Is there an easier way?
A: NetSwitcher lets you define and store multiple network configurations and switch between them easily. Before you shut the computer down, run the program to set up the network for the next place you'll use it. Then it will come up with everything ready to go.
Q: My network is running very slowly. It takes several minutes to copy a small file from one computer to another. What could be wrong?
A: There are various possible causes, including incorrect TCP/IP registry settings. Please see this site for more information.
Q: I need to use the IPX/SPX protocol for multi-player games, so I'd like to use it for file and printer sharing, too. I've tried, but I can't get all the computers to see each other. What's wrong?
A: Problems with IPX/SPX can usually be resolved by tweaking some settings in the IPX/SPX->NIC properties on all of the networked computers:
Please see this site for more information.
Q: I have several computers and a high-speed Internet connection (cable or DSL). Can I have all of the computers share the connection and use the Internet at the same time?
A: This is one of the best reasons for setting up a local area network (LAN) connecting all of your computers. The cable or DSL connection is part of a wide area network (WAN) which connects you and other subscribers to your Internet service provider (ISP). Your cable modem or DSL "modem" (technically, it's a router, not a modem) provides the WAN connection.
With some ISPs, you can get an individual IP address for each of your computers, probably for an additional monthly charge. In this case, connect the cable or DSL modem to the uplink port of your network hub or switch to make it available to all of the computers.
If you only get one IP address, you need a router to move data between the LAN and WAN. Routing can be done by software or hardware. Software routing typically uses either network address translation (NAT) or a proxy server. Hardware routing uses a box with connections for the WAN and LAN.
Some DSL modems, such as the Cisco 675, have a built-in NAT capability. If yours does, you don't need any additional software or hardware. Enable NAT and connect the modem to the uplink port of your network hub or switch.
Software routing uses a program which runs on one of the networked computers. That computer must be running at all times that anyone using the other computers wants Internet access.
Hardware routers are becoming very popular because of their ease of use. Once set up, they need no further attention, and there's no need to leave any computer running at all times. There are single-port routers, which connect between the cable or DSL modem and the network's hub or switch. There are multi-port routers which have a built-in switch, minimizing the number of boxes and cables needed. There are reviews of many different hardware routers at the PracticallyNetworked and SmallNetBuilder web sites.