Sharing your Internet Connection
By Joshua Erdman
Many people have multiple computers at their residence, however they typically have only one of the computers connected to the Internet if they are using high speed Internet access such as Cable Modem or DSL. The other computer is cursed to spend its days stuck on dial-up. Since I believe this is morally wrong, I wrote this article.
Despite what some Internet Companies (ISPs) would like you to think, you can (with the right equipment) connect all your computers over your single Internet connection. You do not have to pay any extra monthly fees and you will not loose any Internet functionality.
No matter how you decide to share your connection, it is going to require that you provide wiring or wireless to connect each computer. This can be done many different ways. Over your existing phone wires (slow but cheap), over network wires (very fast), or over wireless. After you get your network up and running then you can decide what method to share your Internet connection.
Clue: Sharing your Internet connection also provides a basic firewall to protect your PCs from intrusion or attack from the Internet.
Using a DSL/Cable Router
This is my recommended method for sharing an Internet connection. You have more flexibility and options with a router (such as port forwarding). To use a router there is one requirement, the DSL or Cable-modem connection must be an Ethernet connection, it cannot be a USB device that plugs into your computer. If you do have a USB DSL modem or Cable Modem your only choice is to make your computer the router (this is called Microsoft Internet Connection Sharing).
MS Internet Connection Sharing
Microsoft's ICS allows you to share any type of Internet connection, even if you want to share a Dial-Up. Using Internet Connection Sharing, which is built in to Windows XP/Me, is one way to get the job done. It basically requires one computer to have the Internet connection and a separate network card that is used to share to the rest of the network.
The downfalls are that this computer must be left on at all times because all the other computers rely on it for their Internet access, this computer must be equipped with 2 network connections (one to the Internet and one to the internal network) and ICS does not provide many features that come with using a router.
Article last reviewed: 06/27/2004