The good news is that it's not that hard
to set up, as long as you do it properly.
How Internet Connection Sharing Works
When you set up Internet Connection
Sharing, you set up one of your computers as a 'gateway' to the
Internet, and then use this gateway to access the Internet with your
other computers. Essentially, requests for data from the Internet are
being sent out through the gateway, and the responses are being sent
back across the network ('routed') back to your computer. The gateway
computer is still the only one that's directly connected to the
If you have trouble visualising what's
happening, imagine for a second that the computers are people. Let's
call the computer-people Bob, Fred and Alice. They're all in a bar
together, but Bob is the only one with money for drinks (we could say he
has a 'connection' to the bar). Fred and Alice can ask Bob to buy them a
drink, and Bob can bring over the drinks, for them to have as they
usually would. At no point, however, can Fred or Alice go and order a
drink at the bar.
Setting It Up: The Gateway
Note: this guide assumes that you have
already set up your wireless network, but you have not connected it to
the Internet yet.
The computer with the modem connected
to it is the one you need to set up first -- as the gateway, it's going
to be providing Internet access to all your other computers. On this
computer, go to the Control Panel, then click Network Connections. From
here, you can run the Network Setup Wizard by clicking 'Set up a home or
small office network'.
Click next through the wizard until you
get to a screen called 'Select a connection method'. On this screen you
need to select 'This computer connects directly to the Internet. The
other computers on my network connect to the Internet through this
computer'. From here on, you should be able to click next again until
you get to the finish. Say 'yes' to turn on file and printer sharing
when you're prompted.
Your computer is now ready to be a
gateway to the Internet.
The next step is setting up the other
computers on your network to make use of the gateway you just created.
Run the Network Setup Wizard on each of these computers, but this time
through choose 'This computer connects to the Internet through another
computer on my network or through a residential gateway'.
If the computer that will now be using
a shared Internet connection was using a dial-up connection before, then
there are a few things left to do -- you need to change some settings in
the web browser Open Internet Explorer, then go to the Options screen
(in the Tools menu). Click the Connections tab. You should click 'never
dial a connection', and un-tick three boxes: 'automatically detect
settings', 'use automatic configuration script' and 'use a proxy
The Trouble With Internet Connection
To go back to our bar for a moment,
imagine Bob leaves. Oh dear. Looks like Fred and Alice can't get any
more drinks, doesn't it? The same thing applies to the computers on your
network -- if the gateway computer is switched off, they will lose all
their access to the Internet.
That's not the only problem, though.
While Internet Connection Sharing works fine for the web and email, it
can be more problematic when it comes to doing other things. Downloading
files from file sharing networks, for example, or using
videoconferencing, requires you to mess around with the gateway
computer's settings. After a while, it can get quite frustrating. If
you're in this position, you should really try a wireless router -- see
our article 'Create Always-On Networks with a Wireless Router'.