Windows XP Tutorials

This tutorial explains essential Windows XP workgroup settings. These setting are compulsory before creating a new workgroup or joining an existing workgroup.

Workgroup is a group of computers those are setup for easy sharing. Before we create a new workgroup or join an existing one, we have to adjust some essential settings. In this tutorial we will learn these essential settings in detail with examples.

This tutorial is the first part of our article “Learn how to setup Windows XP workgroup network step by step”. You can read other part of this article here.

This tutorial is the second part of this article. It explains how to setup a workgroup network in Windows XP system.

How to setup and join Workgroup in Windows XP

This tutorial is the third part of this article. It explains how to connect a Windows Vista system with Windows XP workgroup network.

How to join workgroup in Windows Vista

Updating Computer Name and Workgroup Name

During Windows XP installation, computer name and workgroup name are automatically generated. We 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 we 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

Since Computer name and Workgroup name are updated only when system boots, wizard prompts us to restart the computer. Click Yes to restart the computer.

restart computer

Once computer name and workgroup name are updated, next step is to configure the LAN card.

Configuring LAN card

LAN card or NIC card is the device that connects system with network. Each device needs a software application known as driver to interact with system hardware and operating system. Windows XP has an inbuilt driver library for most common NICs. If match finds, windows will automatically install the necessary driver. If it does not find a matching driver for LAN card, it will list that LAN card in device manage as unknown device. A working LAN is the essential requirement of workgroup.

Let’s access Device Manager and check LAN card driver status.

Right click My Computer and click Properties

my computer properties

Switch to Hardware tab and click Device Manager. In opened window, expand Network Adapters tab. If driver is showing here, it means NIC is installed properly.

device manager lan card working

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

device manager lan card yellow sign

Windows puts 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 then it means driver is missing.

If it is not even listed in Other devices tab then it means that 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 disabled, use right click context menu of local area connection to enable it.
Showing 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

Local Area Connection state

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

Right click My Network place and click Properties

In opened window, depending on attached NICs, Local Area Connections will be listed. If no connection is listed here, check Device Manager again to figure out whether NIC card with driver is installed properly or not. If more than one Local Area Connection is listed here, select the connection which is going to connect this computer with workgroup and check its state. It must be connected as showing in following figure.

network lan working

Other possible conditions of Local Area Connection with their respective solution

Condition: - 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

Condition: - Showing with Red Cross

Description: - cable is unplugged

Solution: - Check whether network cable is plugged or not

local area connection disconnected

Condition: - Showing with firewall

Description: - LAN is protected with firewall

Solution: - Either turn it off or configure it to allow the 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. We have two choices here, either configure the firewall to allow the workgroup traffic or turn off the entire firewall. In a workgroup network where external computers are not allowed to connect, we may consider to disable the entire firewall.

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 two options for windows firewall; on and off. Select Off to turn off the windows firewall.

windows xp firewall

Local Area Connection Configuration

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. In opened window, check General tab. It should contain all these items.

network lan working

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 how to create a new workgroup on windows XP.