Network Basics

Basic wiring and networking is described below. For recommendations when setting up network users in Windows, see Network Users.

Basic Physical Wiring for a Small Office

To setup a LAN (Local Area Network):

See Wireless if you are interested in using any wireless connections.

Basic Networking - Peer to Peer

Small offices with less than 5 computers are generally set up as a peer-to-peer network. In a larger office, one of the computers will need to run server software, (e.g. Microsoft Server 2008). In a peer-to-peer network, you still designate one of the computers to be the server, but it just runs a version of Windows that allows simultaneous connections (e.g. Windows 7 which has a built in 20 computer limit). See Computer Requirements under Operating Systems.

If you are not using a server, after the computers are connected, set up your network as follows.

  1. Right click on Computer and select Properties.

    Computer description: Optional (it is easier to not fill it in).

    Full computer name: Take note of this name. Every computer on a network has a unique name.

    Workgroup: All your computers should have the same Workgroup name.

  2. To change the Full computer name or Workgroup, click Change.
  3. Enter a descriptive Computer Name (e.g. SERVER, RECEPTION, DROFFICE, BACKOFFICE, BUSOFF, OP1, OP2, a person's name, etc.) typically ALL CAPS.
  4. Enter the Workgroup. All computers on the network should have their workgroup set to this value. If you were using a server, then you would be part of a domain instead of a workgroup.
  5. If desired, share files on a computer so that other computers can access them:
    1. Locate a folder that you want to share, right click on it and select Sharing and Security, or Properties. Just share important folders. You should NEVER share your entire C: drive, since that gives viruses easy access to your system files and allows them to infect your computer. You can share as many folders as you want.
    2. Under Network sharing and security:
      • Check both boxes or just the first.
      • Enter the Share name (typically the same name as the folder).
      • Click OK.

After the network has a few moments to recognize the newly shared folder, you should be able to access it using the network path. For instance \\SERVER\OpenDentImages\.

To view your network computers and shared folders, click on the file explorer and select Network. You may have to be a little bit patient while waiting for a folder you just shared to show here.