Set up an ad hoc WiFi network

What if you wanted to do pretty much everything you can do on a network, but didn't have a router? You can set up an ad hoc network, in which you can connect on a peer-to-peer basis with other computers and PDAs. You don't need any extra software; the capability to do this is built right in XP.

This tip originally appeared on SearchWinComputing.com.

What if you wanted to share a single Internet connection, but want to share files, use the printer of another PC, send and receive instant messages, in other words -- in short, do pretty much everything you can do on a network -- but didn't have a router?

You could set up an ad hoc network, in which you can connect on a peer-to-peer basis with other computers and PDAs. You don't need any extra software; the capability is built right in XP.

All you need are WiFi-equipped PCs. To establish an ad hoc network, first one PC does the basic set-up and then the rest of the PCs connect to that ad hoc network.

  1. On the PC that's setting up the network, double-click the Wireless Network icon in the system tray.
  2. Click the Properties button, then click the Wireless Networks tab.
  3. Click the Add button and make sure you're on the Association tab.
  4. Type a name for your network in the SSID box.
  5. At the bottom of the screen, check the box next to "This is a computer-to-computer (ad hoc) network; wireless access points are not used."
  6. If you're not using encryption to protect the ad hoc network, choose Disabled from the "Data encryption" drop-down box.
  7. Click OK and then OK again. Your network is now set up.

About the author: Rahul Shah currently works at a software firm in India, where he is a systems administrator maintaining Windows servers. He has also worked for various software firms in testing and analytics, and also has experience deploying client/server applications in different Windows configurations.

This was last published in September 2006

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