How to Create a Network Between Two Computers Without a Router

LockerGnome reader Frank asks, “I have 2 laptops and I want to share my DSL connection without a router. Laptop 1 has Windows 7 and the DSL connection and Laptop 2 has Windows XP. So, what do I need to do to share my DSL conection between the 2 laptops?”

To start, let’s get one thing out of the way. A router is the absolute best way for most home networks to share a connection to the internet. Yes, some advanced users have an old system set up as a home server and basic router, while others have a more complex network of systems and switches. For the majority of users, however, you really can’t go wrong with a router. These have become very inexpensive over the years.

That said, if you still want to accomplish this with two notebook computers and a DSL modem, you can. Each notebook will require a working Wi-Fi card and your Windows 7 machine will also need an open and working ethernet port.

  1. Connect the DSL modem to the Windows 7 machine’s ethernet port and check connection. If you have access to the web, continue to step 2.
  2. Open the Network and Sharing Center on your Windows 7 notebook and click on the icon called “”Set up a new connection or network.”
  3. At this point you’ll begin setting up what’s referred to as an “ad hoc” network. This is a network that is managed by the computer itself without the need of a router.
  4. Pick a name and enter a security code for your network. The name will be what you look for in the next step.
  5. In your Windows XP notebook, look for possible connections in the wireless manager. You should see the network you just named after a minute or two.
  6. Test your internet connection on the XP machine.

Once these steps are completed, you should have a successful network set up between two machines. Keep in mind that additional firewall protection and other features routers provide may not be available on an ad hoc network.

This is a similar setup to a home network established by putting two ethernet cards in a single machine and connecting another machine or a switch to it. It’s not a well managed network, but resources such as an internet connection can be shared across.

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