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Chapter 6. Connecting to the Internet an... > Sharing Your Internet Connection

Sharing Your Internet Connection

If you have two or more computers in your home, it’s downright silly to expect each one to access the Internet independently. That would require potentially expensive hardware for each one, and you would find yourselves fighting constantly over who gets to use the phone line or the broadband connection. To preserve domestic tranquility, take your one Internet connection and share it with all the other computers on the local network. You’ll need a little extra hardware, but all the software you need is included in Windows XP. Use one of the following configurations:

  • Add a router or residential gateway to your network.

    This piece of hardware connects to your Internet access device, such as a modem or cable modem, on one side and to your network hub on the other end. (Some routers include a hub of their own so that you can connect the network card in your computers directly to the router.) To your ISP, the router looks like a single computer; it does all the work of communicating with the Internet on behalf of your other computers.


    As the name suggests, the job of a router is to gather packets of data as they come into a network and send (route) them to the correct destination, using the address on each packet for delivery details. A residential gateway is a router designed for use on a home network. It might or might not have any special features.

  • Use Internet Connection Sharing (ICS).

    In this configuration, you designate one of your computers as the ICS host. This computer needs to have a network card to connect to other computers and a separate Internet access device—either a modem or a second network card connected to a cable or DSL modem.



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