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Home Networking FAQ

How do I test if my server is visible to the outside world?

A useful site to test whether your webserver or POP3/SMTP server is visible to the outside world is http://www.netmonitor.org/tools/.

If you are on your own local network you cannot test port forwarding, because most routers will only port forward traffic that arrives over the Internet. Therefore use a site like netmonitor, or get a friend to access the service you are using.

Using XP Remote Assistance with a NAT device

TechRepublic.com have a useful guide for getting XPs Remote Assistance to work when using a NAT device.

How do I share files between PCs on a home network?

File sharing is possible between the various Windows operating systems, how it is set up can vary though. There are many online guides dedicated to how to do this, some are listed below:

How do I get Netmeeting to work?

Microsoft has an article about getting Netmeeting to work through a NAT device or firewall it can be read here

How do I know which ports to forward to my application?

The best thing to do is visit the software manufacturer's website and look for information about NAT router or firewalls.

A good online list for popular applications is here.

What other software routers are there?

A number of other solutions other than Windows ICS are available, most come with a free 30 day trial period. This allows you to pick the package that you are most comfortable with.

WinRoute - Router and Firewall
WinGate - Proxy server and firewall
SolidShare - Firewall and connection sharing

Can ICS do Port Mapping?

Yes. Windows2000 supports it inherently. Visit Practically Networked ICS Page for a handy configuration utility that works on Windows ICS.

How much will it cost to share my connection?

The cheapest solution for 2 computers is if you are running Windows 98SE/2000/XP and therefore already have Internet Connection Sharing software.

The only other things you need are two Ethernet network cards (10Mbps or 100Mbps or dual speed ones will do) costing about £15 each and a £5 cross-over patch cable.

If you expand the network to include 3 or more computers then you will need to add an Ethernet hub/switch to the setup.

Can I share my connection with a router?

Yes. but you must ensure that the router has an inbuilt ASDL modem. Some do not, and are designed to purely route data around your network. A list of a few unsuitable devices is as follows:

SMC 7004 Barricade
Linksys BEFSR41
ADSL-R4000 from Stak Trading
Netgear RP114 Internet Gateway

The general rule is that if it is described as a cable/DSL router, it will not connect directly to an ADSL line. Some will work happily with the ADSLNation X-Modem and D-Link 300G+, but check compatibility with the appropriate supplier. A third option is an ADSL Modem such as the Westell 2100/2400/2410 that has a 'pass-through' that is thought to be compatible with a wide range of cable/dsl routers.

Visit our ADSL Hardware FAQ for a selection of routers with inbuilt ADSL modems designed for connection sharing.

I have a number of PC's can I use ICS to connect wirelessly?

Windows ICS will work with wireless network card's and you do not need to have a wireless router. In effect the computer with the ADSL modem and a wireless network card become your wireless router.

To create a wireless network using just wireless network cards, you need to run the cards in what is called AD-HOC mode, how to do this and setting on ICS for a wireless system is described on Microsoft's site here.

Are there any online guides to setting up ICS?

There are plenty of sites providing step by step guides. Here are a couple:

Practically Networked ICS How To Center
Annoyances.org - Setting up Internet Connection Sharing

Does ICS work with a Mac?

Yes. Internet Connection Sharing does not require a client side program to operate. Mac users, just like PC users, will require a network card. Practically any system which supports TCP/IP will work with ICS.

I keep hearing of ICS?

ICS is Internet Connection Sharing. It comes as standard with Windows 98SE/2000/XP.

How do I share my connection?

If you are running Windows 98SE, Windows 2000 or XP, the simplest method is as follows:

  1. Install a network card in the machine with the USB modem.
  2. Enable Internet Connection Sharing for the USB modem.
  3. Install a network card in the computers you wish to share with.
  4. Set each computer to obtain it's IP configuration via Dynamic allocation (DHCP).

Thats it - a very simple sharing system should be running.

How can I extend the cable from my ADSL socket?

An RJ11 extension lead is what you need. If a BT engineer visits your premesis (some products are engineer assisted), it is possible to request up to 30m of cable to be installed from the master socket.

If your DSL is wires only, Clarity sell an RJ11 extension kit (the same kind as used by BT). Dixons / PCWorld should also stock RJ11 extension cables.

Is it possible to share my USB modem with other PCs?

Yes. A USB modem can be shared between two or more computers.

The process of sharing a DSL connection is identical to what you do to share a dialup modem connection between two or more computers.