How to Connect Two Windows Computers On LAN Using an Ethernet Crossover Cable

Do you have multiple computers at your home or workplace? It becomes extremely difficult to manage multiple computers and operating systems simultaneously. If you need to transfer files, folders, videos, music, documents from one computer to another frequently, you can use the following three options:

  • Using a USB stick or an external hard drive.
  • Using Internet and File sync services like Dropbox.
  • Connecting both the computers in a home network.

The first two options have certain disadvantages. Using a USB drive is way too slow and you can not move large files or directories among multiple computers easily. In that case, you have to use external hard drives which unfortunately are costlier. Using the Internet and file sync services like Dropbox seems like a good idea, but what if the internet connection fails? You can’t afford to wait for all files to get uploaded and then download them to the other computer.

The best option is connecting the computers in a home network. This procedure is fast, efficient, reliable and you need just an ethernet crossover cable to do the job.

Create a home network using an Ethernet cable

Things you will need:

1. A network card installed in both computers.

2. Supported and installed network drivers.

3. A crossover ethernet cable as shown below

Ethernet Crossover Cable

Following are the steps involved to configure both computers and connect them using a crossover ethernet cable:

1. Turn off both computers and connect one end of the ethernet cable to the network card slot of computer1. Then connect the other end of the ethernet cable to the network card slot of computer2. The network card slot is located at the back side of computer CPU and looks somewhat similar to the following screenshot:

Ethernet slot of computer
image credit

2. After both the ends of the ethernet cable is connected, turn on both the computers one by one. It doesn’t matter which one you start with.

3. Now you have to assign a unique Workgroup to each computer. The following step is applicable for Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7.

If your operating system is Windows XP: From the Start menu, right click on “My Computer” and select “Properties”.

Workgroup properties of Windows Xp Computer

Click the “Change” button and assign this computer to a unique Workgroup. As for example: my desktop computer runs on Windows XP and I have assigned it to a Workgroup called “Workgroup”.

Change the name of the Workgroup in Windows

If your operating system is Windows Vista / Windows 7: From the Start menu, right click on “Computer” and select “Properties”. This will open the system properties Control Panel window as shown below

Workgroup properties in Windows Vista

Click “Change settings” and assign the same Workgroup which you assigned to the earlier computer.

Change the Workgroup name in Windows Vista

Note: The computer name field can be given anything as your choice, but please keep in mind that both computers should be under the same Workgroup name or else this tutorial won’t work at all.

4. Restart both the computers one by one. It doesn’t matter which one you start first as Windows will automatically detect and apply the network settings. Now you are ready to share files and folders between the two computers, which are connected in a network.

5. On computer 1 which runs Windows XP, click “Start menu” and go to “My Network Places”. You will see a new icon of your second computer in the “My Network Places” folder. Any document which you share in computer 2, can be found on this folder in computer 1.

Shared folder in Windows Xp LAN network

6. On computer 2 which runs Windows Vista, click “Network” from the start menu and you will see a new icon of your first computer. Any file which is shared on computer 1, can be found from this folder in computer 2.

Networked shared folder in Windows Vista

If you don’t see the networked shared folders in both computers, you might get a prompt to turn on “Network sharing”. Click the security pop-up in “Network and Sharing center” and select “Turn on Network Discovery and File sharing”. Then select “Make the network a private network” and restart both the computers again.

Turn on Network sharing in Windows vista

Now both of your computers are connected in a network and you can simply copy/paste files, folders and documents in those shared folders. Hence you can move the files or folders between your computers instantly.

Have you set up a small home network using an ethernet crossover cable? Let us know your ideas in the comments section.

Image credit: RegNatarajan