With cost of PC's dropping and number of home users increasing, it has become more and more reasonable to have a home network. Many families now have more than one PC to suit growing needs of home user, but many feel setting up a network is too daunting or overwhelming to attempt.
Fret not. You, too, can set up your own network fairly easily and inexpensively. Wired or wireless, it's easier than ever to get connected.
New Life for an Old PC
Let's start by discussing how you can use that old PC you may have lying around. Perhaps you just purchased most state-of-the art PC with fastest processor, tons of disk space, and enough memory to last you a lifetime. So now what do you do with old one?
Sure, you can donate it, but reusing that old PC can add a lot of functionality to your computing experience. Besides, it feels good to keep hard to recycle items out of our landfills.
There are a few things you need to do in order to prepare that PC for its new use.
Remove Unneeded Programs. If you don't intend to run any applications from your "new server", remove every application you don't intend to use. Simply go to Control Panel, select Add/Remove Programs and delete everything you don't need.
Clean Up The Hard Drive. Get rid of temporary files, browser cache, and anything else you don't need that will free up disk space. PC World has a great article on how to Reclaim Hard-Drive Space.
Install a Network Card. If machine doesn't have a network adapter, you will need to install one. You can get one at almost any computer accessory retailer for about $15. To install card, you must take precautions. First, turn PC off and unplug machine. You will need to remove cover to find an empty PCI slot so avoid static damage by wearing an antistatic wrist strap while working inside your PC. Find a free PCI slot and remove cover. Carefully insert network card and use a screw to fasten it down. When you start up machine, Windows should detect card. To install drivers, follow directions that come with your network card.
Put It To Use
Now that you have your PC set up for networking, you can use it as a file server, print server or to share an Internet connection. No one likes to fight over only computer with Internet access, or being kicked off so someone else can use printer. Not to mention hassle of running back and forth to transfer files. Use steps below to implement your own file server, print server, and shared Internet access.
To use that old PC as a simple file server, all you really need is hard drive space. If you have 20GB or more, that should be enough to use it for simple file sharing and backup. However, if you want to store a lot of files or share and store digital media, you may want to consider adding a second, larger capacity hard drive.
Enable File Sharing. Depending on your Operating System, right click icon Network Neighbourhood or My Network Places on your desktop, then choose Properties. Then, for Windows 2000 or XP, right click Local Area Connection, select Properties, and check File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks. For Windows 98 or ME, click File and Print Sharing button and select I want to be able to give others access to my files and click OK. Then restart your PC.
Share The Drive(s). Now you just need to enable sharing on drive you want to share, so, double click My Computer icon on your desktop. Then, right click icon for drive or folder you wish to share and select Sharing. Then just follow instructions on your screen to set up sharing. you can select to share full access, read-only access, or password protected access. Do same thing for any other drive you wish to share.