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Answer from our Guest Expert John Klinger of Call A Techie - page 2

A "normal" network is a client/server model where you have client computers, typically your Windows or NT workstations, and various servers. (NT stands for New Technology, which is the "real" name of Microsoft's operating system for networking.) The servers usually house shared applications, databases, files, printers and so on. The client computer must log onto the network to access these resources. This model is the preferred network model for networks of more than ten or so machines or networks where centralized security is a high priority. For small or home offices, however, a peer-to-peer network may be a better solution.

Okay, with that said, let's move on and discuss some of the features of peer-to-peer networks, plus some of the options you must enable in Windows to make them work well.

Make the Physical Connections

A peer-to-peer network is basically a network of equals. At the bare minimum, you need two machines and a way to physically connect them. Traditionally, the machines are connected via a LAN cable and Ethernet cards. However, Ethernet cards are not always necessary nowadays. Other methods to connect machines are dial-up connections through a modem, direct cable connect through serial ports and new networking kits that use the telephone lines in a house or office to act as a LAN cable. (LAN basically stands for Local Area Network, meaning a group of PCs in one location that are connected.) Windows really doesn't care how the connection happens, as long as data can get from machine A to machine B.

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