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2,862 Tutorials

How to enjoy faster, safer networking

Wireless networking made easy

The importance of names

Network filesharing problems often stem from improper workgroup and PC naming. Ensure each PC has a unique name to avoid mix-ups, don't use spaces in names and restrict yourself to 15 characters or less.

All PCs should use the same workgroup name. In XP Home the default is MSHome; in other versions of Windows, including Vista, it's Workgroup. To change either the workgroup or the computer name in XP, click Start, Control Panel, System and choose the Computer Name tab.

The Vista difference

If you're working in XP and have unresolved sharing issues, consider upgrading to Windows Vista. Its Networking and Sharing Center states which sharing features are enabled and makes configuring them easy. Vista's Link Layer Topology Discovery automatically detects network devices and shows their locations on a Network Map.

Vista's firewall is clever enough to permit sharing within a workgroup. If you're having a problem with XP's firewall, try a third-party utility. ZoneAlarm's Trusted Zone feature (zonelabs.com) allows workgroup computers to communicate.

To sidestep XP's file- and printer-sharing complexities altogether, try Network Magic. Network Magic puts all sharing and networking functions in one place. A special mode protects shared folders when your laptop is connected at a Wi-Fi hotspot, which can be a major security concern.

Quick links:

Wi-Fi: nail the basics

Wi-Fi: disappearing printers

Wi-Fi: the importance of names, and the difference Vista makes

Wi-Fi: how to beef up security

Wi-Fi: cover the airwaves and avoid hotspot hijacks

Wi-Fi: speed up transfers

Wi-Fi: preventing interference, and what to expect from draft-n networking

Wi-Fi: better backups and cross-platform networking

For more information on network security, our sister site Techworld has a comprehensive network security resource page.

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