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Connecting via LAN
Computer networking between laptops can be as simple as connecting each computer to a local area network (LAN). You will need the proper wired or wireless adapters to be configured on each laptop for this to work. If using a wired connection, an Ethernet patch cable needs to be connected from the network router or switch to each laptop. If the laptops have wireless network adapters, each will have to be configured for the host network’s network configuration and security settings. Once both computers are setup, they can be contacted by IP address or by another identifier (depending on what protocols are in use).
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Using an Ethernet Crossover Cable
If two laptops have working Ethernet ports, they can be networked together using a hardwired crossover connection. This setup eliminates the need for a router, switch, or hub and allows the computers to function as a network. Resources and Internet connections can be shared just as if the computers resided on a traditional network.
Ethernet crossover cables look like a regular patch cable at first glance but are not interchangeable, so it’s important that you mark the crossover cable so it is easily identifiable. Making a crossover cable is just like making a patch cable except that on one end the TX and RX are “crossed over." The connections for the crossover are as follows:
- Pin 1 (TX+)of the standard end to pin 3 (RX+) of the crossover end
- Pin 2 (TX-) of the standard end to pin 6 (RX-) of the crossover end
- Pin 3 (RX+) of the standard end to pin 1 (TX+) of the crossover end
- Pin 6 (RX-) of the standard end to pin 2 (TX-) of the crossover end
The other pins are connected straight through.
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Setting up an Ad Hoc Network
Ad hoc is another approach to computer networking between laptops. This approach can be a good option, especially if a wireless network router isn’t available. This technique works a lot like a wireless crossover to connect the computers together. An ad hoc connection is created by accessing the laptop’s wireless network connection properties box from Control Panel or by clicking on the wireless connection icon in the system tray.
Click the “Add" button to create a new network. In Windows 7, you will then see a button labeled “Create and ad hoc network" where you will see an informational window before being given the opportunity to enter the ad hoc network’s name, security type, and security key. When you click the "Next" button, your network will be created. You can now connect another laptop to this ad hoc network by selecting it from the list of available wireless networks. Keep in mind that the laptops being networked together need to be fairly close together (Microsoft recommends within 30 feet).
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Networking between laptops is convenient, allowing files, devices, and other resources on one computer to be shared with another. While this can be done using a LAN for connectivity, when such access is not available other alternatives such as crossover connections, ad hoc networking, and Bluetooth exist. Here you can review some of these techniques and utilize the one that is most appropriate for your situation.
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Connection Laptops via USB
Computer networking between laptops can also be done through a USB bridge connection. When doing this, a special cable adapter is required because USB ports are not made to be directly connected to each other. Doing this may damage the USB port on one or both laptops, resulting in an expensive repair bill.
USB bridge connection cables can be purchased from an array of local and Internet suppliers that allow networking between computers by connecting one USB port to the other. Some of these devices require software drivers to be installed, so be careful to follow the instructions that came with your device. Once the bridge is configured between the two laptops, files and resources can be shared between them. Be careful when you shop because some USB bridge devices create a link for file transfer only (good for backups or transferring files to a new computer), while others allow full network emulation that provide for file and printer sharing and other features.
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Although Bluetooth is a wireless technology, it really isn’t a suitable replacement for standard wireless networks primarily because of slower speed and reduced range. Still, networking between laptops can be done by connecting them via Bluetooth. This requires both computers to be equipped with either built-in or external Bluetooth personal area network adapter. When the adapters are configured, they are visible in the network connections section of Windows. To connect a laptop to another this way, one will have to be discoverable so that the other can find it and connect to it. This is done under the Bluetooth Service Properties dialog by enabling the PAN Networking Service option. On the first computer, right click the Bluetooth icon in the taskbar and select the “Join a Personal Area Network" option. Next, click the “View Bluetooth network devices" option, click “Add" and use the “Add Bluetooth Device" wizard to set up the connection. Once this process is completed successfully, the laptops will be networked, allowing files and other resources to be shared.
If you travel around with your laptop, it's a good idea to disable Bluetooth when you're not using it to prevent other devices coming into its proximity from connecting to it unwittingly.