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Q.  Do you have any tips for solving problems when Networking in Windows XP?

A.  This list has evolved and will continue to be expanded as I answer more questions regarding Networking for XP(8/04/09).

1. Even if it tells you to do it, don't run Windows XP's Network Setup Wizard on the other networked computers. You want to make the Windows XP computer conform to the existing network. The Wizard wants to make the rest of the network conform to XP.

2. You must disable Windows XP's Internet Connection Firewall (ICF) on a local area network connection to other computers. If it's enabled on a LAN, ICF will block File and Printer Sharing.

3. To make most network settings, you must be logged on as a user that is a member of the Administrators group.

4. Use the same protocol for File and Printer Sharing on all computers.

5. Remove all network protocols that aren't required for a specific purpose.

6. If you have multiple protocols, un-bind File and Printer Sharing from all but one. Using more than one protocol, even on just one networked computer, can make networking with XP unreliable.

7. TCP/IP, by itself, works for all Windows networking functions.

8. If you assign IP addresses manually, use the same IP subnet on all computers.

9. NetBEUI isn't necessary. [I think I would make it blunter than that: "If NetBEUI is installed, the network won't work." At least that has been my experience so far.]

10. Use the same workgroup name on all computers.

11. For peer-to-peer networks, be sure NetBIOS over TCP/IP is enabled: Start, Control Panel, Network and Dial-up Connection. Right-click Local Area Connection, Properties, Internet Protocol (TCP/IP), Properties, Advanced, WINS tab, Enable NetBIOS over TCP/IP, OK, OK, Close. If you have a broadband router with a DHCP server or other DHCP server on your network (not the ISP DHSP server), try enabling Use NetBIOS setting from the DHCP server instead.

12. Be sure the Computer Browser Service is running... Right click My Computer, Manage, System Tools, Services, Double Click the Computer Browser service, set to Automatic, OK.

13. If you have Norton firewall installed you may run into problems.  Try completely uninstalling it to eliminate it as the problem.  If that fixes the problem, reinstall and try setting the security level to its lowest setting.

14. Assign share names other than the default names that have a $ in them. Share names with a $ in them are Administrative shares and cannot be seen on the network.

15. Enable the guest account or setup individual accounts for users on other PCs to access shared resources... Start, right-click My Computer, Manage, Tools, Local Users and Groups...

16. Individual Accounts in Windows XP Pro for remote users logging in from other computers on the local network, etc. cannot have blank password. These logins can be automated in the Control Panel, User Accounts, select the account, Manage my network passwords.

17. If you have a broadband router, set your TCP/IP Properties to obtain the IP address automatically from the router's built-in DHCP server. Setting DNS to auto should also work with most routers.

18. If you are using Windows ICS to share an Internet connection (you don't have a broadband router), set the client machines' TCP/IP properties to obtain their IP addresses automatically from the ICS host (the one with the Internet connection and two network adapters). ICS has a built in DHCP server. Do not install ICS on the clients. The ICS host is assigned a static, private IP address or for the local network adapter when ICS is installed. If static IP addresses are used for the client computers, there may be conflict with the IP address scoop of the ICS DHCP server and the network may not work.

19. Do not install Windows ICS if you are using a broadband router (yes, people have done that).

20. Verify that the Requirements for Browsing a Windows Network are satisfied.

Let me know if you need anything else.

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