How To: Connect Two Windows Vista Computers with an Ethernet Crossover Cable
There are four reasonable ways to connect two PCs (both running Windows operating system) by a single cable:
- Connect an Ethernet crossover cable between the Ethernet network ports on the two PCs. (Easy)
- Connect a FireWire cable between the FireWire ports on the two PCs. (Easy)
- Connect a special USB link cable between the two PCs, along with some software. (Requires some fussing, some software, and a special cable.)
- Connect a serial-port crossover cable (sometimes called a null modem cable) between the serial ports on the two PCs. (Requires a fair amount of fussing, works slowly, and sometimes won’t work at all for reasons that never come clear.)
Use an Ethernet Crossover Cable to Connect Two PCs
By far, the simplest, easiest, and cheapest connection between two PCs is through a Category 5 Ethernet crossover cable. If you’re using Windows 2000, Windows XP, or Windows Vista, it’s virtually automatic. In summary: You turn both Windows PCs off, connect the crossover cable between the Ethernet port on one PC and the Ethernet port on the other, and then turn them on and boot up. In a couple of minutes, you should be connected. That’s all it takes!
An Ethernet crossover cable is a special variety of the familiar Category 5 Ethernet patch cable. It looks almost exactly like an ordinary Ethernet patch cable, but it will be labeled somehow so that you know it’s a crossover cable. Look for the abbreviation CRS embossed in the plug on each end or for a label of some other kind.
TIP: If you have a crossover cable that isn’t labeled, label it right now. If you mix them up later on and try to use a crossover cable instead of a regular Ethernet patch cable (or vise versa), you will not be able to make a connection!
About Crossover Cable Used in Networking of Windows Vista PCs
What makes the cable a crossover cable? It doesn’t look any different physically, and it’s only different electrically. Old-timers may remember something called a null modem, which was used to connect PCs through their serial ports in ancient times. A crossover cable is a null modem for Ethernet ports rather than serial ports. It connects the output pins of one Ethernet port to the input pins of another and vice versa. No communication can happen between two PCs on a straight-through patch cable because with a straight-through cable, the two PCs’ input pins are connected together, as are the output pins. Inputs can’t talk to inputs, nor outputs to outputs. The crossover cable makes sure that inputs talk to outputs and outputs to inputs.
How to Create the Connection between Windows Vista PCs
Here’s your step-by-step for direct connection via Ethernet crossover cable:
- Make sure the network ports on both Windows Vista PCs are enabled. To do this, click on Windows Vista Start, then Settings, and then Network and Dial Up Connections. Look for a line labeled “Local Area Connection” and be sure that it’s marked as “Enabled.”
- Make sure the cable in your hand is indeed a crossover cable, and connect it between the two Ethernet ports.
- Power up or reboot both Windows Vista PCs.
Once both Windows Vista PCs are past bootup, give them a few minutes to self-assign an IP address with APIPA and locate one another.
- For Windows XP PCs, in Windows Explorer, expand My Network Places and click on Computers Near Me. Look and see if the name of the opposite PC is displayed. For Windows Vista, open Network. If you don’t see the new PC, click Network and Sharing Center and enable “discovery“.