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Use FireWire to Create a Temporary Connection Between Two PCs

written by: Joli Ballew•edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 8/28/2009

Windows XP and Me contain built-in, plug and play support for networking over a FireWire cable.

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    There was a time (not so long ago) when connecting two or more PCs to share files was so difficult that most people didn’t bother and just did “the floppy shuffle,” even when this involved shuffling 15 or 20 floppies. One of the great marvels of the late 1990s was cheap networking, which is now so cheap that virtually all PCs—even the super-bargain bottom-feeder PCs—contain a 100-Mbps Ethernet port. Some versions of Windows are masters at hooking up with one another and can do it in a number of different ways.

    Use a FireWire Cable to Connect Two PCs

    The Windows XP and ME contain built-in support for networking over a FireWire cable. This support is called IP over 1394 because IEEE 1394 is the standards document defining the FireWire technology. Unfortunately, earlier support for FireWire is marginal, and neither Windows 2000 nor Windows 9x has the drivers for IP over 1394. Furthermore, Windows Me support for IP over 1394 is buggy and doesn’t always work.

    Unless you’re connecting two Windows XP machines, your best bet then is to use the Internet crossover cable method described here: How to Connect Two PCs with an Ethernet Crossover Cable or create the connection using a more traditional wired or wireless network.

    Windows XP's support for IP over 1394 is Plug and Play, so if you plug a FireWire cable into both PCs and power up or reboot, Windows will recognize the connection and establish an IP-based connection between the two PCs. Some potential issues:

    · If you have one or both of the PCs already networked over Ethernet, Windows may get confused and not establish the link. IP over 1394 works best when there are no other active IP-based connections to either PC.

    · Windows Me does not always trigger APIPA when you plug the FireWire cable into the Windows Me PC. If this happens, you may have to assign a local IP address manually to the Windows Me PC. Try

    · FireWire cables are necessarily short. Both PCs just about have to be in the same room.

    · FireWire cables tend to be stiff, and if you bend them sharply or kink them they will not pass data as quickly as they will unbent and unkinked. Handle them carefully.

    · If you can’t establish the connection, make sure that TCP/IP is enabled on both ends and that both FireWire ports are enabled.

    Still, if you can get the link to work, it will be very fast, faster than anything else you can inexpensively and easily run between two PCs, including a 100Base-T Ethernet crossover cable.