How to connect Windows XP and Windows Vista computers using Ethernet cable?

Troubleshooting tips - part 1

Windows Vista comes with Windows Network Diagnostics tool which is accessible from Network and Sharing Center and Network Connections. However, if you don't have a clue on what has caused a network problem, this tool won't help much. Because of that, we list some problems that often occur during/after the direct (Ethernet) cable connection and the ICS (Internet Connection Sharing) setup.

Windows Vista: Windows Network Diagnostics - Identifying the problem...

Picture: Windows Network Diagnostics identifying network problem...

In our demo, the first computer running Windows Vista  becomes the ICS host and the second computer running Windows XP becomes the ICS client. You can have it configured the other way around.

Both computers have been connected to each other - as indicated by their connected Ethernet cards' IP addresses (of 169.254.x.y address range) - but can't see each other (i.e. its name doesn't appear on Windows Explorer) or one computer can see the other but can't access it. If you choose the Network Diagnostics tool to fix this problem, Windows Vista on the host will ping the client computer but it will get no response. Try the following tips to fix such problem.
  • Check your Ethernet cable connectors to make sure they are plugged firmly into the Ethernet ports on both computers. If the RJ-45 connectors aren't plugged correctly to the RJ-45 jacks on the computers or loosened, the direct connection will not work and your computers lose the network connection.

  • In Windows Vista's Network and Sharing Center, check whether network discovery is turned on. Also check the corresponding network location. If it is Public, change it to Private which is equal with Home or Work setting that allows network discovery, file and printer sharing, and ICS.

  • Open your firewall software on both computers. Check whether it allows file and printer sharing within a subnet. In Windows Firewall, file and printer sharing within a local network is enabled by default but may have been changed by other network connection setups. For other firewall software, consult the help content on how to enable file and printer sharing.

  • View the connected LAN (Ethernet) adapters' IP addresses (in the host and the client). Before ICS is activated, both should have the same format, i.e. 169.254.x.y (APIPA IP address). If one of your adapter has IP address of different format, you have to fix it. Make sure the adapter's TCP/IP properties set to Obtain IP address automatically and Obtain DNS server address automatically (this is the default setting but may have been changed to a static IP address). In the Network Connections folder, right click the connection name and select Diagnose (in Windows Vista) or Repair (in Windows XP). On the computer running Windows XP, there is also a possibility that its network card is still acquiring IP address as indicated by its IP address. If this is the case, just wait for it to change to an APIPA IP address within a few seconds. The temporary IP address of is not found on Windows Vista since it goes directly to APIPA IP address of 169.254.x.y.

  • Ping the other computer manually from the Command Prompt using this command: ping LAPTOP or ping IP (replace LAPTOP and IP with your computer name or IP address). Sometimes ping is successful for waking up a slow starting connected network computer.

  • If the above tips don't work, unplug the Ethernet cable for a few seconds and plug again.

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