Network Two Computers Running Windows XP

Previously, I wrote an article about a cool software called WiPeer that lets you connect two computers over a wireless network. This program works great for quickly sharing files between two laptops, but it requires you to install proprietary software, which is more pain for IT administrators.

If you want to share files between two desktop computers, then a better way would be to use the built-in features of Windows. In this way, if you add another computer to your network, you can easily share files with that computer too without having to install any additional software. It’s also better for corporate environments.

In this tutorial, I will walk through the simple process of setting up file sharing between two computers in Windows XP. Windows Vista has a completely different way of doing file sharing, so that is for another article.

The first step in networking two computers is to make sure that they are in the same domain or workgroup. You cannot network two Windows computer unless they have one of these in common.

To do this, right-click on My Computer and choose Properties, and click on the Computer Name tab.

network two computers

As you can see, my computer is joined to a workgroup called WORKGROUP. If I want to make sure another computer can communicate with this computer, I have to make sure it is also in the workgroup called WORKGROUP. Just click the Change button in order to do this.

change workgroup


Once both computers are in the same domain or workgroup, you can now setup file sharing. Go to the folder that you want to share in Explorer, right-click on it and choose Properties. Now click on the Sharing tab.

share files two computers

Now you need to click on “If you understand the security risks but want to share files without running the wizard, click here”. Now just choose Just enable file sharing when given the two options.

enable file sharing


The wizard will jut enable the firewall, but all SP2 and SP3 XP installs automatically have the firewall activated, so you don’t need to worry about that. Now you should see a check box called Share this folder on the network. Go ahead and check that and check the box below if you want others to be able to edit it.

share this folder on network

Now go to another computer on the network, open My Computer, and click on My Network Places.

my network places

Now click on View workgroup computers to get a list of all the computers in the workgroup. If you can’t see any other computers in My Network Places, read my previous post for solutions.

view workgroup computers

You should see the name of the computer you setup the shared folder on. Go ahead and double-click on it and you should see the shared folder!

workgroup computers


That’s about it! If you have any issues like “Access is denied” or “You do not have permission”, make sure that File and Printer Sharing is added as an exception in the Windows Firewall.

file and printer sharing

If you have any issues networking two computers, feel free to a post a comment and I will try to help! Enjoy!

Comments [12]

  1. I have 2 xp machines both with sp3 and my problem is that I can't connect them to each other. I can't share files no matter what I do. Before I would map my drive no problem with winxp sp2 but now I can't do it. I really don't know what the problem is, but I suspect that sp3 had something to do with it. Need help.

  2. Great post. Thanks.
    Just one question – I will be using my two laptops on a large university LAN. I want to be the only one who will be able to access the shared drivers between my two computers. How can I do this? (I only want to be able to transfer files between my two machines and no others)

  3. 1. how can I put password for these folders that I am sharing?

    2. why i am able to see next door neighbors workgroup folders ? are they also able to see my workgroup folders which I hope not?

    my company is using windows xp.

  4. I had the same problem as Van33. I was using WinXP Pro SP3 and the other PC was using WinXP Home SP3. Both PCs were using the ZoneAlarm Free firewall. I followed all the right steps but couldn't get the PCs to recognize each other. Then I found an article that treated firewalls, specifically ZoneAlarm, preventing computers connecting or talking to one another. Following the article, in ZA I went to Firewall > Zones > Add > IP Address and entered the IP addresses of each PC. It was amazing! Instantly there was recognition, file sharing and printer sharing.

    Frank D

  5. Thanks for this guide to connecting two computers together over a LAN network, I really needed it!

  6. Ok, so I'm trying to connect both of my computers so that I don't have to constantly go back and forth between the two just to copy files to my new one. My new computer is running Windows 7, and my old one has XP on it. How can I do this?

  7. Thanks, you help me a lot! the problem is fixed.

  8. I am having problems with my LAN. I connected four computers together without internet, my class of IP is I can only see all the systems from one system that I used as the gateway The other systems can not see themselves and can not even see the gateway system that is seeing the other systems. It is now difficult for me to share resources.

    Kindly help me out.


  9. I tried WiPeer on several XP machines, but the wireless options are all disabled (grayed out) in Network Configuration. I have installed .Net Framework 2.0 and above, I have turned on the wireless radio. I have tried to reboot.. but all attempts have failed.

    BTW, I tried in Win7 machine, it works fine.

    Could someone can help me out ? Thanks!

  10. I have 2 xp machines both with sp3 and my problem is that I can’t connect them to each other. I can’t share files no matter what I do. Before I would map my drive no problem with winxp sp2 but now I can’t do it. I really don’t know what the problem is, but I suspect that sp3 had something to do with it. Need help.

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