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Author Topic: the home PC network enigma  (Read 2215 times)
Steven Avery
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« on: April 03, 2012, 06:08:03 PM »

Hi,

Supposedly, Windows theoretically, possibly, maybe is all set up for networking out of the box.  The prenamed MSHOME in an XP network section, the Homegroup function ... if you have all Window 7, the "Workgroup" name given to the Windows 7 network that can be the name you apply to all the puters, as suggested by one article.   Yada and a yada and a yada.

However, in my experience, it never works well. Things don't want to connect, or they don't want to stay connected.

=============

Everything here is behind a router.

The goal in my system is 3 PC's , 1 on Windows 7, 2 on XP.  One of those I plan to dual boot Linux (really, this time). Also maybe a laptop occasionally saying hi by cable or wireless.

Only two systems are really fundamental a Windows 7 and my super-clean reinstall XP.  The laptop and an old XP are sort of auxiliary.  I am working with a KVM switch attempt as well. (Which has its own tricky aspects, whether hardware or software.)

Here is the rub.  I either am quite bumbling, or the Windows network is a bubblegum and scotch tape method. 

===================

Remember "Lantastic" ?  Well, what do we do today ?  Set up a VPN ?  Set up a real network with a server or with "Active Directory" to pretend to be skilled in that realm ?  (oops, might cost $$).  I would not mind dedicating a PC largely to traffic cop and working with Spiceworks, but that would be more play than need.  And it still does not tell me HOW to go.

What are my major options ? What do you suggest ?  Am I really supposed to use MS ? My gut says there is some other way that is simply better, but I want to hear from the experts.

Since I prefer XP to Windows 7, I want to keep my mixed Windows hybrid group for now.

Steven
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techidave
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« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2012, 06:13:59 PM »

I am with you Steven.  Its harder than it needs to be.   cheesy  I have tried it a few years ago... ok... probably 4 or 5 years.  I had trouble getting it setup then, so I haven't really tried it since then but I need to.  I have 2 W7 pro, 3 XP pro, Mac 10.6, and a couple of iPads (which i know cannot network to them).

I would appreciate some down to earth, easy to read and do instructions.
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wraith808
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« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2012, 06:39:22 PM »

It is quite a bit harder than it needs to be.  I've found that it works... sometimes.  More reliably if you're going to static IPs.  Other than that, I'm not much help... I have a hard time at times connecting from one computer to the other.  Thankfully my printer and NAS being on static IPs means it doesn't matter as much... but still, every time I try to connect to other computers (or use software that does), it's hit and miss.  I've even profiled the connection, and I see what's wrong.  But I just don't know how to fix it/don't want to invest the time.

The only step that I've found means anything (at least most of the time) is if you can ping the other computers.  If you can do that, then you're at least on the right path.
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skwire
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« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2012, 07:40:29 PM »

I've always used shared drives (Samba) between Windows and Linux boxes and can't recall ever having a problem.  In other words, I don't ever use Network Neighborhood or its ilk, just mapped drives.
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4wd
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« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2012, 07:43:46 PM »

I have two Win7HP, an XP Pro computer, FreeNAS based computer and an XP Pro netbook all happily communicating with each other behind a router.  The XP Pro computer is accessed exclusively via the network, (RDP, FTP, etc), as it's headless.

The computers are all in WORKGROUP, (ie. standard for XP Pro and Win7), I don't use passwords on the accounts, (all single user machines), except for where it's required for Task Scheduling in which case those computers AutoLogon to the main user account at boot.

Static IPs, as wraith mentioned, but this is mainly so I can readily access them by typing in an IP without having the system try and lookup a name/IP relationship or having to edit host files on multiple machines.
The following settings applied to the Win7 machines:



The main one being the 40/56 bit encryption, I've found it makes the connection to XP computers more reliable, (but it does work with 128bit also - just seems hit and miss for some reason).  The rest is personal preference, (username/account, public folders, etc).

On the XP side I use a few registry tweaks to make connecting to the machines a little bit more reliable/faster.

I can reliably just share a folder on a machine and expect to access from another whether it's 7->XP or vice versa.

And to follow up on what skwire just mentioned, I don't use mapped drives, network neighbourhood - just FTP or SAMBA.
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Steven Avery
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« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2012, 10:33:45 PM »

Hi,

4wd, I had run into some of the points you are making (e.g. the naming, the encryption) in this article.

Solution For LAN Connection Between Windows XP And Windows 7
http://hackspc.com/soluti...windows-xp-and-windows-7/

And I didn't realize, but I may have more of the network up than I thought, after following that.  I see my Windows 7 is showing one other computer in the network and sharing center.  A big plus.

More laters.  Keep sharing.  (I may have a couple of other article tidbits, and I'll give a progress report of how it is going on my basic 3 attempt).

Steven
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4wd
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« Reply #6 on: April 04, 2012, 02:40:27 AM »

Yes, I think that's where I got the encryption thing from.

There's a few more things you could look at if you're experiencing slow response from the XP side, (don't know how relevant they still are):

Mapped drive - slow response at first
Slow network browsing in XP
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Steven Avery
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« Reply #7 on: April 07, 2012, 04:16:12 PM »

Hi,

I was reading up on the VPN (virtual private network) situation as an alternative, or supplementary. There are a few things that confuse the semi-novice.  Especially, VPN is used for two entirely different things, proxy and network, and the reviews don't always make the distinction clear.  

And when used as a network, I wonder if there is a distinction between "all behind the same router" and "general".  And I gather there are hardware-based router things like QuickVPN.

On the network level, LogMeIn's Hamichi seems to be the ease-of-use favorite.  Comodo's Unite may be interesting, along with Gbridge (google), although I tend to avoid those companies on some things. OpenVPN and Remobo are two more that look interesting, and there are a few more goodies.

And what is the relationship between VNC and VPN. I remember once I connected to a mini-computer through a router using a special protocol program and, I think, both of the above.  However, VNC may not apply to my discussion here.

Note: I am not concerned about remote access and remote control, TeamViewer and many others do that fine, the interest is network (back-door minicomputer).  Such as using one master file as the direct source for bookmark and notes programs without going to Dropbox, etc.  

Teamviewer does have a VPN option, which I have not researched, and since their program is very, very good, that should be in the mix.  In that case you are using the same setup for both.

Here is the big question:

functionally and set-up-wise and stability and response and all .. how does your VPN compare to your local Windows network peer-to-peer attempt. Are they generally complementary or exclusive attempts ? And do people like having their work computer on VPN.  Watching out, of course, for the security issues.  (e.g. on how many password requests does Teamviewer time out ?  Why isn't that easy to find.).

And 1 major big issue is whether you succeed in getting full, fairly easy, direct mapping of drives.  With any alternative.

Steven
« Last Edit: April 07, 2012, 04:26:02 PM by Steven Avery » Logged
Cloq
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« Reply #8 on: April 07, 2012, 05:04:28 PM »

I've always used shared drives (Samba) between Windows and Linux boxes and can't recall ever having a problem.  In other words, I don't ever use Network Neighborhood or its ilk, just mapped drives.

Same here. Mapped drives seems be more stable and much easier to setup.
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Steven Avery
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« Reply #9 on: April 07, 2012, 09:40:39 PM »

Hi,

So what is the recommended de minimis method, with mixed Windows puters (Linux / Samba later) of reliably mapping drives:

a) behind a router
b) one extra PC away at work

Steven
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Steven Avery
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« Reply #10 on: April 15, 2012, 11:01:34 PM »

Hi,

For actually mapping and unmapping, I switched to Softperfect Network Scanner (freeware, and recommended by 4Sysops,
Softperfect is a very neat company). Seems to make it much simpler, almost as an afterthought.  So my network is going ok now,
I think. Well I am noticing that to share a full drive they want to go through "Shared Docs' which is a little strange.  Maybe I will simply
do it by two distinct folders.  (The way I have it, one does not work.) - Correction - now the drive shows up as its own drive.

Addition: even Eudora came up just fine. With a warning about the dual instances.  True multi-access.  Vue-Minder calendar I did
right away, excellent.  I would like to do Stickies but he makes that a registry entry to share so it has to be done carefully.

Softperfect shows you the shares and has a very simple and crisp mapping (right-click) option, with persistency included.
They have a disconnect menu item that unmaps. All fine.

 However, I don't think this will help me with DriveHQ and remote places,
it is just simplifying home network functioning.

My other project is a Linux boot attempt.

Soft

Steven
« Last Edit: April 16, 2012, 12:09:21 AM by Steven Avery » Logged
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