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How to connect Windows XP and Windows Vista computers using Ethernet cable?

- Introduction
- Checking network (Ethernet) adapters installation
- Disconnected computers
- Connecting both computers with Ethernet cable
- Dynamic IPv4 address assignment
- Activating file and printer sharing
- Viewing connected computers and opening shared folders/printers
- Internet Connection Sharing (ICS) setup
- Monitoring the connections
- Troubleshooting tips


Direct connection using Ethernet crossover cable is a simple and quick solution for Windows users to transfer/share large files between two computers. While the first tutorial on this topic focuses on connection between two computers running Windows XP or older Windows versions, this tutorial focuses on connection between Windows Vista and Windows XP computers.

Because both PCs used in our test have Gigabit Ethernet cards with auto-MDI/MDIX feature, a crossover cable was not required, so a standard Ethernet cable was used instead. If your network cards don't have auto-MDI/MDIX, you have to use an Ethernet crossover cable.

In the demo for this tutorial, we connected a laptop running Windows XP Professional to a desktop PC running Windows Vista Ultimate. The computer running Windows Vista was chosen as the ICS (Internet Connection Sharing) host and the one running Windows XP as the ICS client. The result is the same when Windows XP computer was chosen as the host. Either configuration can be used for sharing files/folders, printers, Internet connection, and doing popular LAN activities such as networked game and media streaming.

the ICS client computer (LAPTOP running Windows XP) connects to Internet via the ICS host (DESKTOP running Windows Vista) - connected to broadband (DSL) Internet connection via a wireless router.

Picture: The map of the direct connection using Ethernet cable
between two computers and the ICS in this tutorial.

For ICS we decided to share a home hotspot, i.e. wireless (Wi-Fi) connection to a broadband DSL Internet service. This was meant to clarify the ICS concept by using different types of network adapters, i.e. an Ethernet card for the direct connection and a Wi-Fi card for Internet connection. However, you can follow a typical configuration, that's the ICS host computer is connected to an Internet gateway device (broadband modem/router) using Ethernet/USB cable. In this case, if the computer that's going to become the ICS host connects to the Internet gateway using Ethernet cable, it must have two Ethernet ports. One for the direct connection to the client computer and the second adapter for connection to the Internet gateway.

Windows Vista introduces some important improvement to Windows XP in IPv6 support, network discovery, file/folder/printer/media sharing, and computer security. During the direct connection setup, Windows Vista was faster in recognizing a new network connection and setting up the new IP settings for that connection. Windows Vista also puts network map in Network and Sharing Center which shows this computer, Internet gateway device (modem/router/access point), and Internet globe in a connected or disconnected state.  But unlike Windows XP, Windows Vista doesn't provide a network setup wizard for setting up a direct cable connection.

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