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Windows 7 And Networking Questions

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Never tried a network before but now we need to. The office computer is a laptop running 64 bit Vista and the second computer is getting a new hard drive, I've been told Windows 7 is the easiest to network with and is better than Vista so I'm thinking that's the way for us to go. I hate Vista. Here's the questions:

How difficult is it to set up a network?

Wired or wireless?

Can we do it with a 64 bit PC and a 32 bit PC or should I install the 64 bit version on the 2nd PC? Can that even be done?

We use a tethered cell phone for internet, once we get this running can we have PC 1 tethered and have internet access with PC 2 or will it need a separate connection?

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With the current hardware, setting up a network is a relatively painless affair as long as you pick up a "router" or "router/modem" instead of a "switch". Most "router"s will have a service called DHCP running on them that assigns IP addresses to the machines when they connect to the network. This saves you from the step of having to assign IP addresses to each machine. It's just a matter of plugging in the wires into the "router" or finding the WiFi hotspot with your wireless device.

The ease of use you are hearing about Windows 7 networking over Vista networking is the "Home Group" feature that Windows 7 has. It makes it easier to share out files, music, videos, and printers between machines as long as they join the same "Home Group". The traditional way of doing this was painful because you had to setup network shares on the machines one at a time and ensure the correct permissions were setup so that they could read data from all the others. If you have no plans on sharing files between the machines, then picking Win 7 over Vista shouldn't factor into your choice of OS.

[On the other hand, for the sake of your sanity, I recommend upgrading from Vista to Windows 7 as soon as you can. Life's too short to be running Vista when you can be running something better.]

As for the 64-bit PC talking to a 32-bit PC, you should not run into any problems in general. The only time this will become an issue is if you are trying to share out a printer that is connected to one machine, and have the other machine also access the same printer. By default Windows machines, when sharing out a printer will also try to share out the printer driver. Obviously, a 32-bit print driver will not work on 64-bit machine, and vice versa. This is usually masked by the fact that under the covers, if a suitable printer driver isn't found, Windows then searches it's out of the box cache of drivers. In Windows 7, it additionally will also check Windows Update to see if it can find a driver. If you have an old printer, there may not be a 64-bit version of the printer driver that can be found.

As for sharing an internet connection through a tethered phone, look for the acronym "ICS" on Google (or Bing). It stands for Internet Connection Sharing. There should be how-to articles about how to enable and use it.

Edited by Skydiver

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It's just a matter of plugging in the wires into the "router" or finding the WiFi hotspot with your wireless device.

So I just need a router? Got no WiFi here....

If you have no plans on sharing files between the machines, then picking Win 7 over Vista shouldn't factor into your choice of OS.

We will need to access the files on the main pc, problem?

As for the 64-bit PC talking to a 32-bit PC, you should not run into any problems in general. The only time this will become an issue is if you are trying to share out a printer that is connected to one machine, and have the other machine also access the same printer.

We would need to do this as well, will we need to connect a second printer to the second pc? Thanks for the help.

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It's just a matter of plugging in the wires into the "router" or finding the WiFi hotspot with your wireless device.

So I just need a router? Got no WiFi here....

...

If you got a router that included wireless capability, then you'd have wi-fi. In fact, I think you're going to be hard-pressed to get a router that DOESN'T have wi-fi. And I've never seen a router that didn't have a DHCP server built in. Look at Linksys/Cisco or Netgear for a router.

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If you have no plans on sharing files between the machines, then picking Win 7 over Vista shouldn't factor into your choice of OS.

We will need to access the files on the main pc, problem?

It would be simpler if you used Windows 7 and setup a Home Group. If choose to no, you can always right click on a folder and choose to "Share" the folder and it's contents. If you go with the right-click route, you choosing to use the sharing Wizard will more often than not lead to a successful sharing experience. Just always remember than "Ken" on "Machine A" is not the same user as "Ken" on "Machine B", keeping this in mind will help save you some headaches when you try to figure out why you can't access the files on Machine B while using Machine A.

As for the 64-bit PC talking to a 32-bit PC, you should not run into any problems in general. The only time this will become an issue is if you are trying to share out a printer that is connected to one machine, and have the other machine also access the same printer.

We would need to do this as well, will we need to connect a second printer to the second pc? Thanks for the help.

If you have a printer made sometime in the last 3-4 years you can simply share the printer. (Right click on the printer properties, and choose to share.) Then on the second PC, you can choose to add a printer and point it to the shared printer.

Edited by Skydiver

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