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How to Network Two Windows 95/98 Computers
Last updated: 1/17/2000


  Step 1... Purchase two network interface cards.  If you have a computer with a PCI bus, I recommend that you purchase PCI, Plug 'n Play, 100 Mhz Fast Ethernet adapters.  The AOpen ALN-320 and ALN-315, and the D-Link DFE-530TX are good examples.

Network Interface Cards are also known as network adapter cards and Ethernet adapters.

  Measure for, and make or buy a CAT 5 crossover cable.  Detailed instructions and installation tips are available in How To Make Your Own Network Cables. 

I recommend using solid-core CAT 5 cable.  It can be up to 100 Meters long, about the length of a football field.  If you use stranded-wire, the maximum allowed length is 3 meters or about 10 feet. Stranded wire cables are handy for carrying around with notebook computers with PCMCIA Ethernet cards installed.

When buying a cable...  if the sequence of the color of the wires is identical, when holding the two RJ-45 plugs alongside each other, with the clips away from you, it is a straight-through cable, not a crossover cable, and it won't work.

  • A straight-thru cable has identical ends.

  • A crossover cable has different ends.

Do not run your network cable above ground outside of a building.  It presents a very dangerous lightning hazard.

  (Please) read the instructions that came with your network adapters.

  Install the network adapters.  Network adapters install pretty much the same way; however, installation steps do vary from adapter to adapter.  See my article on Installing the AOpen ALN-320 and my review of the DFE-530TX for examples.  In general, you would follow these steps:

  • Shut-down Windows and turn-off the computer.
  • Unplug the power cord.
  • Remove the cover.
  • Locate a free PCI expansion-board slot (they are usually white).
  • Unscrew and remove an expansion board dust cover in back of the slot.
  • Insert the network adapter into the slot and secure with the screw.
  • Push down on the top front of the network adapter to make sure it is fully seated in its socket.
  • Plug-in the power cord and boot-up the computer.
  • Windows should detect the adapter and install one of it's drivers or ask for the floppy disk or CD-ROM that came with the adapter.  It should find a configuration or .inf file on the floppy or CD if it is located in the root directory.  If not you will have to point Windows to the appropriate directory; i.e., specify a location and browse to it.  Do not skip files.  They should be somewhere on the media that came with the adapter or on the Windows CD/floppies.
  • Repeat for the other computer.

  Firmly plug the crossover cable into the RJ-45 jacks on back of the adapters in each PC.

Do not bend the cable tighter than four times it's diameter.


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Copyright, Disclaimer, and Trademark Information Copyright © 1996-2006 Larry F. Byard.  All rights reserved. This material or parts thereof may not be copied, published, put on the Internet, rewritten, or redistributed without explicit, written permission from the author.