Using The Network Setup Wizard in Windows XP

There are a lot of network settings in any Windows operating system. The many settings can affect how your computers connect to each other, and to the Internet. The Network Setup Wizard is provided as a part of Windows, to make the more common settings, for you.

The Network Setup Wizard is most useful when run on a properly designed, setup, and prepared network.

  • Please start by reviewing Networking Your Computers, if you haven’t already.
  • Make sure the following network components are installed, in the network items list in (Name of connection) Connection – Properties.
    • Client for Microsoft Networks.
    • File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks.
    • Internet Protocol (TCP/IP)
  • Make sure that the Internet Connection Firewall / Internet Connection Sharing (ICS) (pre-SP2), or Windows Firewall / Internet Connection Sharing (ICS) (SP2) service is running – Started and Automatic.
  • Configure your firewall setup, including installing any third party firewalls, after you run the wizard.

I know of two ways to start the wizard.

  • From Windows Explorer, with Common tasks enabled.
    • In Network Connections, look under Network Tasks.
    • Select

      Setup a home or small office network.

  • From the Help and Support Center.
    • Start Help and Support.
    • Search on “Network Setup Wizard”.
    • Under “Pick a task”, select “Start the Network Setup Wizard”.
      To start the Network Setup Wizard
      You must be logged on to this computer as an administrator to complete this procedure.

      1. Start the Network Setup Wizard.
      2. Follow the instructions on your screen.
    • Select the shortcut in “Network Setup Wizard”.

The Network Setup Wizard will run on your computer only if

  1. You are logged in with administrative authority.
  2. Your computer is not joined to a domain.

When you run the Network Setup Wizard, you are given a total of five choices, on two screens, which identify how you connect your home or small office network to each other, and / or to the Internet. See Practicallynetworked XP ICS – Starting the Network Setup Wizard for more graphical instructions.

The Network Setup Wizard is a Windows XP component. If you have a computer running another version of Windows, like Windows 98 or ME, you can run NetSetup. Copy NetSetup.exe from “C:\Windows\System32” to a CD or a USB flash drive, carry the CD or flash drive to the target computer, and run it from there. You are under no obligation to copy anything to any device or drive; any settings that you make on this computer, using the Network Setup Wizard, you can make on another computer, manually. The Network Setup Wizard is simply a convenience tool.

You can do just what NetSetup.exe does, on any computer running Windows 98 or ME, quite easily.

  • Install any missing network components, from Network Neighbourhood – Properties – Configuration.
    • Client for Microsoft Networks.
    • File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks.
    • TCP/IP.
  • Set the Computer Name, and Network Name, from Network Neighbourhood – Properties – Identification.
  • Set TCP/IP to obtain IP and DNS server addresses automatically, from Network Neighbourhood – Properties – Configuration – TCP/IP Properties.

Note that the Network Setup Wizard only makes very basic system settings, and doesn’t check for the presence and configuration of other computers on the network. If you run the Wizard, and you don’t get the results that you expect, you’ll need to read either Troubleshooting Network Neighborhood Problems (for local access problems), or Troubleshooting Internet Service Problems (for Internet access problems). You may also benefit from reading Solving Network Problems. Be persistent.

ICS Host

This computer connects directly to the Internet. The other computers on my network connect to the Internet through this computer.

This network configuration uses Internet Connection Sharing (ICS) to share this computer’s Internet connection with the rest of the computers on your network. Communication to and from the Internet to all the computers on your network are sent through this computer, called the ICS host computer.

If you’re going to use an ICS host to provide Internet service for your network, please use Internet Connection Firewall (Windows pre-SP2), Windows Firewall (Windows SP2), or a third party personal firewall at all times. Please don’t ever connect an unprotected computer to the Internet.

As an ICS Host, the wizard will perform steps 1 – 11, from the list of Actions below.

Gateway (ICS or NAT Router) Client

This computer connects to the Internet through another computer on my network or through a residential gateway.

This computer is part of a home or small office network that connects to the Internet through another computer on the network or using a residential gateway (i.e., a NAT router). If you have another computer on your network that shares its Internet connection, called the ICS host computer, this computer will be able to send and receive e-mail and access the Web, as if it were connected directly to the Internet.

A residential gateway is a hardware device that works similarly to a host computer. Typically, a DSL or cable modem connects to the Internet service, and the residential gateway connects to the modem. Internet communication is shared by the residential gateway to all of the computers on your network.

As a NAT Client, the wizard will perform steps 1-5, then 10-11, from the list of Actions below.

Multiple Direct Internet Connections

This computer connects to the Internet directly or through a network hub. Other computers on my network also connect to the Internet directly or through a hub.

This network configuration typically has an external DSL or cable modem connected to an Ethernet network hub. The other computers on your network are also connected to the network hub. Each computer on the network has a direct connection to the Internet by means of the network hub and DSL or cable modem.

If you are using this configuration for your home or small office network, I highly recommend that you disable file and print sharing on the TCP/IP protocol and enable it on the IPX/SPX protocol. If you share files and folders on your computers using the TCP/IP protocol, they could be seen on the Internet. Only enable IPX/SPX for file and printer sharing if you are using this network configuration for your home or small office.

I do not recommend this network configuration. It exposes all computers on the network directly to the Internet, creating potential security problems. I highly recommend that you use a secure host device, such as a computer running Windows XP with ICS and Windows Firewall enabled, or using a residential gateway.

As a Directly Connected Client, the wizard will perform steps 1-5, then 10, from the list of Actions below.

Single Direct Connection To The Internet

This computer connects directly to the Internet. I do not have a network yet.

Select this option if you only have one computer and it has an Internet connection. The Network Setup Wizard configures this computer to use Windows Firewall, to protect your computer from intrusions from the Internet.

Networked Locally But Not To The Internet

This computer belongs to a network that does not have an Internet connection.

Select this option if you have two or more computers networked together, but don’t have an Internet connection. You can have a home or small office network, using Ethernet, a home phoneline network adapter (HPNA), or wireless adapters. If you have different network adapter types, such as Ethernet, HPNA, or wireless devices, installed in your Windows XP computer, the Network Setup Wizard can create a network bridge to allow all of the computers in your network to communicate.

If you’re lucky and have Ethernet on both computers, you can use a hub and Ethernet cables to connect your computers. This is, by far, the best choice in your case. If you’re connecting just 2 computers, you can even use a cross-over cable, instead of a hub.

Actions Taken By The Wizard

Depending upon the Option selected, the wizard will do any of the following:

  1. Set the computer name, computer description, and workgroup name that you specify.
  2. Install these network components if they’re not already present:
    • Client for Microsoft Networks.
    • File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks.
    • TCP/IP.
  3. Share any printers connected to the computer.
  4. Create the “Shared Documents” folder, if it doesn’t exist.
  5. Share the “Shared Documents” folder.
  6. Enable Internet Connection Sharing, on the network connection that you specify.
  7. Enable the Internet Connection Firewall (pre-SP2) / Windows Firewall (SP2), on the shared network connection.
  8. Create a Network Bridge, if more than one local area network connection exists.
  9. Configure the local area network connection (or Network Bridge), using IP address 192.168.0.1/24.
  10. Configure the local area network connection, to obtain an IP address automatically.
  11. Install software, to allow the client to control the host’s Internet connection.
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