ARCHIVED: Directly connecting computers and sharing files

If you want to share files between two computers that are not connected to a network, and prefer not to use removable media, you can establish a direct connection between the computers.

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Direct connection using a crossover cable

If one or both computers use Windows 8, 7, or Vista

If one or both computers use Windows 8, 7, or Vista, to use a crossover cable to connect them:

  1. Connect the two computers using the Ethernet crossover cable.
  2. On a computer running Windows 8, press Win-x to open the Power User menu, and then select Control Panel. In the upper right-hand corner of the window, next to "View by:", select either Large icons or Small icons. Click Network and Sharing Center.
    Note:
    For help navigating, see Getting around in Windows.

    On a computer running Windows 7 or Vista, in Classic View, from the Start menu, click Control Panel. Then, double-click Network and Sharing Center.

    Note: If this doesn't match what you see, refer to Getting around in Windows.

  3. At the top of the main portion of the Network and Sharing Center window, double-click the Unidentified Network (or Multiple Networks) icon.
  4. If network discovery and file sharing are disabled, the following message will appear:
    "Network discovery and file sharing are turned off. Network computers and devices are not visible. Click to change..."
    Click the message to enable network discovery and file sharing; you may be prompted for an administrator username and/or password.

    Note:
    At Indiana University, the University Information Security Office (UISO) recommends that you normally refrain from running your Windows computer as an administrator. For more, see What is the principle of least privilege?
  5. In the dialog box that opens, select No, make the network that I am connected to a private network. This allows you to initiate file sharing on the two computers without affecting the settings for any other networks.
  6. Icons for both computers should now be visible in the Network window. Double-click a computer icon to share printers and other resources.

    Note: If one of the computers is running Windows XP, it can take some time for that computer to appear in the Network window. You may also need to configure the Windows XP computer according to the following section.

If both computers use Windows XP

If both computers use Windows XP, to use a crossover cable to connect them:

  1. On each computer, from the Start menu, select Control Panel, or Settings and then Control Panel.
  2. Double-click System, and then select the Computer Name tab. Enter the name of each computer and the name of the workgroup; the name of each computer should be unique, but the workgroup name must be identical for both.
  3. From the Control Panel, double-click Network Connections on both machines, and then connect the computers using the crossover cable. If either machine's status is shown as "Disconnected", the cable is either not firmly seated or bad.
  4. After the connection is made, enable file sharing for each computer. Right-click the icon for the network connection, and then select Properties. Click the Advanced tab, and then click Windows Firewall Settings.
  5. In the Windows Firewall Settings window, click the Exceptions tab, and make sure that Printer and File Sharing is selected on both machines.

It may take some time for both machines to obtain IP addresses and appear in the Network Connections window.

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Direct connection using a null-modem cable

In Windows XP, if you do not have an Ethernet card, you can also make a direct cable connection using a serial or parallel null-modem cable:

  1. From the Start menu, select Control Panel, or Settings and then Control Panel.
  2. Double-click Network Connections.
  3. In the "Network Tasks" portion of the window, select Create a new connection, and then click Next.
  4. Click Set up an advanced connection, and then click Next.
  5. Select Connect directly to another computer, click Next, and then select a role for each machine. One will be the host, and the other the guest. In general, the host should be the machine with the files to be transferred, and the guest should be the machine to which the files will be copied.
  6. On the host computer, select the port (serial, parallel, or infrared) you will use for the connection, and then click Next.
  7. You will be prompted to grant access to users connecting to the computer. Choose the appropriate options, click Next, and then click Finish.
  8. On the guest computer, type a name for the connection, and then click Next.
  9. Select the port (serial, parallel, or infrared) you are using for the connection, and then click Next.
  10. Select Anyone's use or My use only as appropriate.
  11. Click Next, and then click Finish.

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USB networking

To connect two computers using Windows with USB networking, purchase a USB networking cable from a commercial vendor. Connect the computers using the purchased cable, and then follow the manufacturer's instructions.

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Some of the instructions in this document were adapted from Microsoft's Connect two computers using a crossover cable.

This is document axtm in the Knowledge Base.
Last modified on 2013-11-07 00:00:00.

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