XP Networking Tutorials

Workgroup is a group of computers those are setup for easy sharing. Windows XP supports workgroup networking. We need to adjust some settings before it can create new workgroup or join an existing one. In this tutorial we will explain these settings in detail with screen shots.

Necessary settings for workgroup in windows XP

During the installation process computer name and workgroup name are automatically generated. You could use these names but it would be better to have a good and descriptive name.

To change computer name and workgroup name right click My Computer and select Properties

my computer properties

Move to Computer Name tab and click Change

my computer properties genral tab

Workgroup have following rules while selecting name for computer and workgroup:-

  • Workgroup name and computer name cannot be same. We need to choose separate name for both.
  • Both names have 15 characters limit. It means you can choose a name up to 15 characters long.
  • Both names may contain any alphanumeric characters.
  • Computer name should be unique in a workgroup.
  • Workgroup name should be same for all computers.

Enter a new computer name in the Computer Name field and new workgroup name in Workgroup field and click OK.

change computer name

Computer name and workgroup name are system settings that take place in startup.

To complete this action Window will prompt you to restart the computer. Click Yes to restart the computer.

restart computer

After restart windows will have new computer name and workgroup name.

Configure LAN card

LAN card or NIC card is an interface that connects system with network. Windows XP has inbuilt driver library for most common NICs. If match found, windows will automatically install necessary driver. If it does not found a matching driver, it will list that NIC in device manage as unknown device. So device manager is the first place where we should look for.

Right click My Computer and click Properties

my computer properties

Switch to Hardware tab and click Device Manager. From open window expand Network Adapters. If it is showing here that means NIC is installed properly.

device manager lan card working

If it is showing with yellow sign, that means NIC driver is corrupted. We need to reinstall NIC driver.

device manager lan card yellow sign

Windows put all unknown devices under the other devices tab. If network adapter is not showing, expand other devices tab. It should be list there with named Ethernet controller. If it is listed there that means driver is missing.

If is not even listed in other devices tab that means there is something wrong with NIC card. Check for physical installation.

device manager lan card not detected

Possible NIC conditions in device manage

State Description Action / Solution
Showing in Network Adapter tab NIC is detected and driver is working properly. NIC is ready to use. No action is required.
Showing with yellow sign in Network Adapter tab. NIC is detected. Generic driver is installed but not working properly. Install proper driver. You may use driver CD supplied with NIC or check manufacturer's website for latest driver.
Showing with red cross sign in Network Adapter tab. NIC is detected. Either network cable is unplugged or LAN card is disabled Check network cable. If LAN card is disable, use right click context menu of local area connection to enable it.
Show in other devices tab. NIC is detected but no supporting driver is found. Install proper driver.
Not showing even in other devices NIC is not detected. Check physical installation of NIC. Check on board LAN Option in BIOS. It should be enable

Make sure NIC remain in working condition before we move in next settings.

Network connection settings

By default Windows XP keeps all network connection in My network place. We can access My Network place from several location such as desktop, start menu, task bar or control panel.

Right click My Network place and click Properties

Depending on attached NICs you may see more than one network connections here. We need to check the NIC that is going to be used in workgroup setup.

Possible situations of Local area connection

Situation: - No Local Area Connection presents.

Description: - Windows unable to find NIC.

Solution: - Check Device manager for troubleshooting.

Situation: - Showing with disabled status

Description: - LAN is disabled

Solution: - Select Local Area Connection and do right click. Click Enable from right click context menu.

local area connection disabled

Situation: - Showing with Red Cross

Description: - cable is unplugged

Solution: - Check whether network cable is plugged or not

local area connection disconnected

Situation: - Showing with firewall

Description: - LAN is firewall protected

Solution: - Either turn it off or configure it to allow traffic from workgroup computers.

local area connection firewall

Firewall protects computer from unauthorized access. Improperly configured firewall may block all incoming traffic from workgroup computers. Firewall configuration needs technical knowledge. You have two choices either consult professional or turn off entire firewall. In a home network where we trust on all computers there is no need to configure the firewall. You can easily turn it off in workgroup network.

Select Local Area Connection and do right click. Click Properties from right click context menu. Switch to Advanced tab and click Settings

lan card properties advance tab

In General Tab we have on and off options for windows firewall. Select Off to turn off the windows firewall.

windows xp firewall

Situation: - Showing

Description: - Installed and working properly

network lan working

Workgroup needs four necessary configurations in Local Area Connection.

  • LAN cards drive
  • Client for Microsoft network
  • File and printer sharing services
  • Internet protocols (TCP/IP)

To check these items select Local Area Connection and do right click. From right click context menu click Properties. General tab contains all these items.

lan card properties

If any item is missing, use Install button to install it.

That all settings we need on Windows XP to create or join the workgroup. In Next article we will create a new workgroup on windows XP.