Connecting your computers together

There are several different ways to connect your computers together. The configuration you choose depends on the type of network adapters, modems, and Internet connections you are using. The following tables provide a brief description of each connection method and illustrations to show how to connect your computers together.

Using Internet Connection Sharing

This table shows how to connect your computers using a host computer with Internet Connection Sharing (ICS). The different configurations show the type of modem and corresponding hardware used in each computer.

Internet connection typeRequired hardwareView computer configuration

Internal modems or broadband modem

Each computer on your network needs one network adapter.

Configure a home phoneline network using an internal modem, DSL, or cable modem 
Configure an Ethernet network using an internal modem, DSL, or cable modem.
Configure a wireless network using an internal modem, DSL, or cable modem.

External broadband modem

Requires two network adapters. Connect the DSL or cable modem to an Ethernet adapter installed on the ICS host computer. The second network adapter installed on the ICS host computer is connected to the home or small office network. All the other computers on your network need one network adapter.

Configure a home phoneline network using an external DSL or cable modem.
Configure a wireless network using an external DSL or cable modem.
Configure an Ethernet network using an external DSL or cable modem.

External modem

Connect the external modem to the serial or USB port. All computers on the network need one network adapter.

Configure a home phoneline network using an external modem.
Configure an Ethernet network using an external modem.
Configure a wireless network using an external modem.

Connecting the computers together

This table shows how to connect your computers together using an Ethernet, home phoneline network adapter (HPNA), or wireless network adapter. It displays basic network configuration without Internet Connection Sharing.

Connection typeRequired hardwareView computer configuration

Ethernet

A network adapter is installed into each computer and then connected to a network hub

Configure an Ethernet network using a network hub.

Home phoneline network adapter (HPNA)

A network adapter is installed into each computer and then they are plugged into phone jacks using telephone cables.

Configure a phoneline network.

Wireless network adapter

A wireless network adapter is installed into each computer.

Configure a wireless network.

 Note

Most external DSL and cable modems are designed to connect to an Ethernet network adapter. Check the manufacturer's specifications to determine the type of network adapter you need to connect to your external DSL or cable modem.

Install the modem on the computer that is the Internet Connection Sharing host.

For a comprehensive list of hardware supported by Windows operating systems, see Compatible Hardware and Software in Help and Support Center. 

Hardware requirements overview

Modems overview

Network adapters overview

Choosing your Internet Connection Sharing host computer

Steps for creating a home or small office network

Using a mixed network environment



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