My computers can’t understand each other

In an earlier post, I described a small network with three computers. One of the computers was running Win 2000 and the other two were running Windows ME. The network was set up to be a peer-to-peer network.

The owner was having trouble browsing Network Neighborhood (or My Network Places) to find files, folders, printers.

This is not uncommon — lots of networks don’t work the way they should. It’s not your fault — this stuff can be confusing even when (because?) Microsoft tries to make it easy for you.

What are some of the common mistakes you can make in this situation?

  1. One common mistake is to have different protocols on different computers.

  2. Another common mistake is for the different computers to belong to different workgroups.
  3. A third common mistake is to overlook common user names and passwords on all the PCs.

Let’s look at the first common mistake: protocols.

Right from the get-go, Microsoft has made your life somewhat difficult:

  • TCP/IP is the default network protocol in Windows 2000.

  • However, earlier versions of Windows (Win 95, 98, ME) made NetBEUI (and/or IPX/SPX-Compatible Transport — NWLink) protocols the default.

What this means is that you might have two machines that cannot talk to the third machine.

Here’s how to solve the problem:

  1. On the computers running Win 95, 98, ME, open Control Panel and double-click the Network icon.

  2. In Network properties, look for the protocols.
  3. Write down the property settings for protocols such as NetBEUI, IPX/SPX-compatible protocol, and TCP/IP.

    Many computers in a peer-to-peer workgroup use NetBEUI for local area networking (LAN) and TCP/IP for connecting to the Internet.

  4. When you’re done, click Cancel and exit the Network properties dialog.

Here’s what to do next: make sure your Windows 2000 PC is using the same protocols.

  1. Go to Control Panel and double-click Network and Dial-up Connections.

  2. Once you’re there, right-click Local Area Connection and on the pop-up menu, click Properties.

    The default protocol will be Internet Protocol (TCP/IP). However, the protocols in the Local Area Connection Properties dialog box must match the protocols that you noted earlier — the protocols on the client computers that are running Windows 95, 98, ME.

  3. To add a missing protocol (say, NetBEUI): Click Install, then click Protocol in the Select Network Component Type dialog box, and then click Add.
  4. Click the protocol that you want to add, and then click OK. You might be prompted for the Windows 2000 Professional CD-ROM to install the appropriate files.
  5. Click Close.

If you still have a problem after this, check for the possibility of the other two common problems I mentioned above:

  • Different computers to belong to more than one workgroup.

  • Lack of common user names and passwords on all the PCs.

We’ll cover that in another post.

Here's A Few More Related Posts:
  1. Router - Denial Of Service Attacks
  2. What is your computer’s address?
  3. One more time: Computer names and Workgroup names
  4. What people hate about IT pros

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