Tips and Tricks for Sharing Broadband Access
Having trouble sharing your broadband internet access with multiple computers? This week's Q&A looks at three scenarios that might prevent you from sharing your connection and describes how you can resolve the issues.
By Ron Pacchiano
Q. I'm having kind of a strange problem, and I'm hoping you can help me. I have a DSL broadband connection that I use for Internet access. It is connected to my PCs via a Linksys router with an integrated 8-port switch. The problem I'm having is that I can't seem to get my PC to browse the Internet with Internet Explorer. Every time I try to go to a site, I get an error message saying that IE could not detect my proxy settings.
The really peculiar thing is that I know that my Internet connection is working because I can log into my AOL account, which is configured to use a TCP/IP Connection. From within AOL, I can browse the web fine. Yet for some strange reason, I just can't seem to browse with Internet Explorer. Do you have any idea what might be causing this? I am at my wits' end and don't know what else to try. Thank you!
A. Since it is possible for you to log into AOL and browse the web, I think it's safe to assume that the problem has nothing to do with your ISP or Linksys router configuration. That being said, I think the problem lies within Internet Explorer itself.
It would appear to me that for some reason your browser was accidentally configured to use a proxy server for Internet access. If it is configured this way and there's no Proxy server present, you wouldn't be able to get to the Net via IE.
In case you're not familiar with it, a Proxy server is typically used by companies to limit a user's ability to access sites or materials that might be inappropriate. The proxy does this by intercepting and comparing all web requests to the contents of its Access Control List (ACL). The contents of the ACL can be in the form of domain names, specific keywords, or by categories such as sex and violence. If the web page requested is not in the ACL, the request is processed normally, and the retrieved web page is sent back to the user. If, however, the requested web page is on the ACL, then it will be blocked, and the user will receive a message indicating they have tried to reach a restricted site.
Since I doubt you're running proxy server, all you should need to do is reconfigure your web browser to not look for the proxy server when requesting web access. To do this all you have to do is launch Internet Explorer (IE) and then select Tools, Internet Options, and then the Connections tab. Click the LAN settings button toward the bottom of the window. You'll probably find a check mark in the box labeled "Use a Proxy Server for your LAN". Clear it, close IE, and then open IE again. You should now be able to gain access to the web. It's hard to say how this box got checked in the first place, but it was probably done inadvertently, and it should not recur the next time you reboot your machine.
Q. Not too long ago I ordered a DirecTV DSL broadband connection for my home office. When the Gateway arrived at my house, I used its USB port to connect it to my PC. Recently I purchased a new notebook computer that I would also like to configure to use my DSL connection. I noticed that in addition to the USB port, the gateway also came equipped with an Ethernet port. I thought this would allow me to leave my desktop connected to the USB port while also allowing me to connect my new notebook to the gateway's Ethernet port, thus allowing both PCs to access the DSL line. I tired configuring the computers and the gateway this way, but for some reason it doesn't seem to be working. So my question is, am I doing something wrong. or is it simply that both of these ports can't be used simultaneously?
A. I'm sorry to disappoint you, but I don't think this configuration is going to be possible. When a computer comes equipped with multiple types of connection interfaces (in this case Ethernet and USB), it's typically only to give the user the option of which interface they would prefer to use. So in most cases, you can use one or the other, but not both.
The easiest way around this problem would simply be for you to go out and purchase a DSL router. You would then use the Gateway's Ethernet port to connect to the router's WAN port. Your desktop and notebook computer would then be connected to the router's LAN ports by their Ethernet adapters, thus allowing you to share your DSL connection with both of these PCs. Most DSL routers these days are not very expensive and can be installed and configured within a matter of minutes. Visit the Practically Networked reviews section for prices and more information on the latest routers.
Q. I have a PC running Windows 98 Second Edition and would like to use it to share my cable modem connection with my brother's PC. I heard that I could use Microsoft's Internet Connection Sharing (ICS) program to accomplish this, but I can't seem figure out how to install it. Does it come with Windows 98 Second Edition, or do I need to download it from Microsoft's web site?
A. The good news is you don't need to download ICS, as it is included with Windows 98 Second Edition. The bad news is it isn't installed by default, which might explain why you're having difficulties installing it. Getting it installed on your system is simple enough, though; all you need to do is go to the Control Panel and select the Add/Remove Programs applet. Once it opens, go to Windows Setup tab, select Internet Tools, and click Details. Select Internet Connection Sharing and then click OK. Click OK again and the system will start installing the new software. At this point you might be prompted for your Windows 98SE CD, so make sure you have it handy. Once it finishes installing, just reboot your PC and configure the host and client computers to use ICS.
Complete instructions for configuring Internet Connection Sharing for both the host and clients can be found at http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;306126.
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