XP Networking Tutorials

Sharing was a tough task before Windows XP. Windows XP includes several features that make sharing easier. Among these features, workgroup feature is specially developed for home network. Workgroup is a group of computers those are setup for easy sharing. In this tutorial we will setup a workgroup in home network.

To give you a clear idea of workgroup networking we will include 4 computers in our workgroup network. You may have less or more computers in your network but setup process will be same. We will use Windows XP in three computers and Windows vista in one computer.

How to configure workgroup in Windows XP

We need to configure following settings in Windows XP before it can create new workgroup or join existing one.

Computer Name: -
Computer name is a unique identity of system in workgroup network. This is how you find a computer in network. Having same name on two or more computers will make it hard to distinguish between them in network. It must be different on all member computers.

Workgroup Name: -
Workgroup name a group identity of computer. Computers having same workgroup name belong to same workgroup. It must be same on all member computers.

NIC Settings: -
Network Interface Card is a device that connects computer with network. It must be properly installed. You can use the Device Manager and My Network Place to check the NIC configuration.

Windows Firewall: -
Windows firewall protects system from unauthorized access. It must be properly configured to allow workgroup traffic. You may turn it off in workgroup network.

We have explained these settings with screen shots in our previous article.


For this article we assume that you have configured these setting in all three Windows XP systems of our network. In this article we will start from where we finished in last article.

Set up a home or small office network

As I stated in the starting of this tutorial Windows XP has several nice features that make sharing easier. Network setup wizard is another gem in this series. It will automatically setup workgroup based on information provided by us. It will also share attached printer and active internet connection.

Access My Network Place and click Set up a home or small office network from left pane.

Set up a home or small office network

Welcome window of wizard tells what exactly it does. Click Next

xp network setup wizard welcome

Wizard has a check list for you before it begin the setup process. We have already done necessary settings. Turn on attached printer and connect with internet. Click Next

xp network setup wizard before you start

Computer can access internet in two ways.
Direct access: - Computer is directly connected with the internet.

xp network setup wizard direct connect internet

Shared access:- Computer is connected with the internet via other computer of network

xp network setup wizard indirect internet connection

Select first option if computer has direct access. Select second option if computer has shared access. Select Other is unsure about connection or not connected with the internet.

xp network setup wizard internet connection type

Select Turn on file and printer sharing and click Next

xp network setup wizard turn on file sharing

If require update computer name and description and click Next

xp network setup wizard computer name

Default workgroup name is MSHOME. Change it with your workgroup name and click Next.

xp network setup wizard workgroup name

This is the summary of what you have selected so far. If you want to change something use back button. If everything is fine, click Next button to apply these settings

xp network setup wizard summary

Now just relax for few minutes

xp network setup wizard setting up

Wizard has done necessary settings on this computer. It will ask us how we want to run this wizard on other computers. We will run this wizard separately on other computers. Select last option and click Next.

xp network wizard just finish

Click Finish to close.

xp network setup wizard finish

Some system settings such as computer name and workgroup name require a reboot. If you have changed any system setting windows may prompt you to restart the system.

Click Yes to restart the system.

restart xp message

How to join workgroup in Windows XP

We have three Windows XP systems in our workgroup network. We have setup a new workgroup on one Windows XP system. Remaining two systems will join this workgroup. Use following steps on both computers

  • Do necessary workgroup settings such as computer name, workgroup name, NIC settings and window firewall.
  • Run Set up a home or small office network wizard
  • Select shared access for internet connection type
  • Restart system if prompt.

In next article we will join Windows Vista in this workgroup. Later we will explain how to use this workgroup for file and folder sharing.