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How to set up a direct Wi-Fi connection in Windows XP? (Page 1 of 6)

Ad hoc setup on the first computer (1)
Ad hoc setup on the first computer (2)
Ad hoc setup on the second computer
Internet Connection Sharing (ICS) setup
Disconnecting and reconnecting, and troubleshooting
Ad hoc setup in Windows Vista and Windows 7 (coming ...)


Wi-Fi or wireless fidelity refers to a wireless LAN technology that is developed based on IEEE 802.11a/b/g or the recently ratified IEEE 802.11n. Wi-Fi is commonly used in a star configuration with a wireless access point or wireless router as a central connection point that connects all computers (palmtop, laptop, desktop) or other Wi-Fi enabled devices together, connects the wireless network to a wired network, and connects the wireless network to the Internet. A wireless network that connects via a wireless access point or a wireless router works in infrastructure mode.

On the other hand, a wireless network in which computers link directly to one another without an access point works in ad hoc mode. A Wi-Fi ad hoc network typically consists of two Wi-Fi-enabled computers. However, some Wi-Fi network adapters allow more than two computers to be connected in an ad hoc network. 

A Wi-Fi ad hoc network functions just like Wi-Fi network in infrastructure mode. It can be used to share files, folders, drives, printer, etc. It can also be used for sharing an Internet connection or play a networked game.

What should I prepare?

1. Check your Wi-Fi network adapter standards: 802.11a adapter can only work with another 802.11a adapter, while 802.11b adapter is compatible with 802.11g adapter and 802.11n is backward compatible with all previous versions. When connecting two computers with different adapter version, the connection speed will fall to the slowest of both.
2. If your computer uses an external Wi-Fi adapter (USB dongle or PC Card), plug or insert the adapter into each computer. Before you plug or insert a new adapter/dongle for the first time, you'll have to install your wireless network adapter driver, usually came in a CD or stored in the dongle (since today USB dongle also functions as a flash drive). If your computer has a built-in Wi-Fi radio, you must activate it by switching an on/off button or via the software utility that came with it.
3. Depending on whether you'll connect at a private room or in a public space and the confidentiality of your communication, determine a suitable encryption scheme: no encryption at all (not recommended), WEP, WPA, or WPA2. Both network adapters must support the same encryption system and be configured with the same encryption key accordingly for this ad hoc connection.
4. Place your computers within range of the wireless signal. Typically, less than 50 meters indoor. Check your network adapter documentation to find your wireless adapter coverage or view the signal strength of a detected wireless signal during setup.
5. For maximum transmission, avoid placing your computers near metal barriers or other possible sources of interference (e.g. cordless phone, microwave oven, active Bluetooth devices).
6. You must make sure that both wireless network adapters support ad hoc (peer-to-peer) networking and Windows XP's Wireless Zero Configuration (WZC) service. If WZC is not allowed on your adapters, you can't do the step-by-step instructions in the following pages. But you have to use the utility (software) that came with your adapters to create an ad-hoc network.
7. To allow file/folder/drive and printer sharing, you must allow file/printer sharing in Windows Firewall or open the relevant ports in other firewall software. Also name each computer with a unique name and give both the same workgroup name. To do this, right-click on My Computer icon, click Properties to open System Properties. On Computer name tab, click Change. You will be asked to restart your computer after making the change.

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