With laptops and Netbooks becoming growingly affordable by the day, most homes would definitely have more than one computer. Data would also be scattered across these computers, be it music, videos or documents. In such a situation, transferring and synchronizing data between the computers is the need of the hour. This can be achieved with flash drives and external storage devices, but the transfer would be slower as it involves copying the data to the storage and then again to the other computer. Networking the two computers is the ideal solution, be it using Ethernet switches or routers, but the cost would be Rs 1,500 or higher, and it only makes sense if you need to network more than two computers. For connecting only two computers to each other, you can use a simple Ethernet cross-cable, which can be made in just Rs 100 or less. We show you how to network two computers in a simple two-section workshop.
Making the cross cable
Requirements: A minimum of two RJ45 connectors, CAT5 Ethernet cable (the length will depend on the distance required), and an RJ45 crimping tool. Cut the required length of the CAT5 cable you need. Peel off the insulating sleeve at both ends by approximately 2.5 cm. Separate the four colored and white wire pairs from each other. Keep the blue and the orange pair and chop off the remaining two pairs as we need any two pairs for a cross-cable. Now straighten all the wires in a neat line and align them in the following manner — White Orange -Orange – White Blue – Blue. Next, neatly cut the edges of the wire in a manner that all the wires are now of the exact same length. Make sure the length of the wires coming out of the sleeves is around 1.5 cm. Now separate the last wire (Blue) from the others, keeping a gap of around ½ cm. The first three wires will connect to pin numbers 1, 2, and 3, and the last wire will connect to pin number 6 of the RJ45 connector.
Now carefully insert the wires into the connector. Carefully match the colors with the pins and confirm they are in the exact order and groove. Push the wires all the way inside the connector using a little force. Finally, after ensuring that all wires are in place inside the connector, insert the connector into the crimping tool. Apply a little force on the cable to push the sleeve and the wires as far as they can go into the connector and immediately press the tool’s handle to crimp the connector. You should also hear a click sound when crimping to indicate the sleeve has been locked in position inside the connector. To crimp the other connector to the other end, follow the same procedure above, but the only difference now will be the order of the cable colors. This time, follow the order of the colours as follows — White Blue – Blue – White Orange – Orange. The rest of the procedure is the same. Your cable should now be ready for use. Connect the cable to each computer’s Ethernet port and you are ready for the next step.
Networking the computers
In order to network two computers together, a few settings need to be altered in each computer’s network card properties section. Firstly, each computer has to have a unique name and a similar workgroup name. To change the names of the computer and workgroup, do the following – right-click on the ‘My Computer’ icon on the desktop and click on ‘Properties’. Select the ‘Computer Name’ tab (in Windows 7: ‘Advanced system settings | Computer Name’) and then click on the ‘Change’ button. Enter a different computer name for each computer and a similar workgroup name for both. Apply the changes and the system will prompt you to restart the computer. Choose to restart later.
Now open the network section (For Windows XP: ‘Start | Settings | Network Connections’, and for Windows 7: ‘Start | Control Panel | Network and Internet | Network Connections’) and right-click on the Ethernet card, select ‘Properties’, and double-click on the ‘Internet Protocol TCP/IP’. Click on the radio button to enable ‘Use the following IP address’and enter unique IP addresses along with the Subnet Mask in each computer’s network card. For example, enter the IP address ‘192.168.0.1’ on one PC and ‘192.168.0.2’ on the other while keeping the subnet mask common as ‘255.255.255.0’. Keep the DNS and Gateway fields blank. Apply the settings by clicking on ‘OK’ twice. Your computers are now networked. Now all you need is to share some folders or drives on each computer in order to exchange data. This workshop can be carried further to share a single internet connection between the two computers by adding another Ethernet card on one computer and sharing the internet with the other.