There are countless reasons to connect two computers together. Sharing files, printers, and other drives over the network are easier when the computers are connected using an Ethernet cable. You can easily transfer large files and share folders. Moreover, having computers on Ethernet connection means not having to connect to the Internet which can increase security.
Regardless of the reason, here's a quick guide on how to connect two computers using an Ethernet connection.
Crossover Ethernet Cable?
Before anything else, you have to note a few things about Ethernet cables. A lot of guides will tell you to use crossover Ethernet cables. It was true a few years ago. Crossover cables were used to connect two similar network devices. For example, connecting two computers will require a crossover cable as they have the identical network interface.
However, modern computers and network interface devices are smart enough to figure out the connection. You can use a typical Cat 5e or Cat 6 LAN cable. New machines can handle signals from each other without the crossover cable.
Connect the two computers using your Ethernet cable. Make sure that the cable has no damages and the cables are firmly connected. Some computers have light indicators in their Ethernet ports which shows network activity.
Connecting in the Homegroup
HomeGroup was introduced in Windows 7 to simplify file and printer sharing over a home network. It allows sharing of media files, documents, and printers without much set-up. HomeGroups can be password protected as well.
Check Internet Protocol
Before creating the HomeGroup, you have to check that the computers are using IPv6. First, press Win key + X. Select Network Connections.
On the Network Status window, choose Change adapter options.
On the Network Connections window, right-click on the Ethernet connection. Choose Properties.
On the Ethernet Properties window, both Internet Protocol Version 4 and Internet Protocol Version 6 should have checked.
Creating your HomeGroup
Open HomeGroup by typing homegroup in the search box on the Start menu. If you haven't created any homegroup in the past, you can see a Create a homegroup on the HomeGroup window.
Click Next and follow the wizard. On the Create a HomeGroup window, you can select which library or folder you want to create. Select accordingly in the drop down.
Click Next to see the HomeGroup password. Take note of this password as the HomeGroup may ask for it when a new computer joins.
Joining the HomeGroup
The HomeGroup is now created for the network. You can now add a computer to the homegroup. Go to the other computer. Type homegroup in the search box on the Start menu just as you did on the other computer.
On the HomeGroup window, you will see the created homegroup on the network. Click the Join now button.
Click Next. Just as above, select which libraries and folders you want to share using the drop-down menu. Click Next. On the next window, type in the homegroup password.
Enter the homegroup password then click Next. Click Finish.
To find the shared files from the other computer, open the File Explorer. Select Homegroup on the left-hand-side menu. Select the user account name of the other computer. The libraries and folders should be accessible like any other library or folder.
Note that the computers should be powered on to be able to access the files in them.
Leaving the HomeGroup
Leaving a homegroup is as easy as joining one. Open the HomeGroup window as you did above. Click the Leave the homegroup... link.
On the next window, choose Leave the homegroup. It should remove you from the current HomeGroup.
Future of HomeGroup
An announcement by Dona Sarkar, Software Engineer of the Windows and Devices Group, back in December 2017 revealed that support for HomeGroup functionality will stop. Beginning Windows 10 Build 17063, the operating system will discontinue the HomeGroup functionality sometime in March 2018.
"HomeGroup was terrific for the pre-cloud and pre-mobile era, but today this functionality is built right into Windows 10 and apps," Sarkar said. "Starting with this build, the HomeGroup service is no longer operational in Windows 10. The user profile used for sharing and the file/folder/printer shares will continue to work."
OneDrive, the Email app, and the cloud are some of the alternative suggestions instead of HomeGroup. If you want to use the network instead of the Internet, Windows 10 has a built-in Share functionality which uses the local network as well. For its set-up using Ethernet cable, see the next section.
Advanced Sharing Between Two Computers
It is still possible to connect and share files and folders between two computers using Ethernet cable without HomeGroup. There is a bit of set-up. But, it should work with the built-in Share functionality of Windows 10.
Open the Settings on the Start menu. Choose Network & Internet in Windows Settings.
On the Network Status window, select Sharing options.
On the Advanced sharing settings open All Networks. Choose Turn on sharing so anyone with network access can read and write files in the Public folders under Public folder sharing. Choose the first option under File sharing connections.
Under Password protected sharing choose whichever is appropriate for your set-up. For tight security, select Turn on password protected sharing. It will require the password of the other computer whenever you want to access any shared folder or library. Choose Turn off password protected sharing if you feel that your local network is secure enough
Click Save changes.
Bring the Computers on the Same Network
Now, you need to make the computers communicate with each other over the Ethernet connection. Follow the steps in the Check Internet Protocol section above. This time, select Internet Protocol Version 4, then click the Properties button.
On the Properties window, select Use the following IP address. Use the following information to fill-out IP address, Subnet mask, and Default gateway. Choose Use the following DNS server address and input the following Preferred DNS Server as well.
On the second computer, follow the same steps and type-in the following values.
You should see the two computers under Networks in the File Explorer if everything works correctly. You are now ready to share files between the two computers.
Sharing Folder or Drive
Sharing files and folders is quite easy once everything is set-up. As such, this is one of the alternatives that you can do when Windows 10 stops supporting HomeGroups.
Right-click on a file or folder that you want to share. Select Share with or Give access to. Choose Specific people....
On the Network access window, choose Everyone under Choose people to share with. Click Add.
Once added, choose the access type.
Click Share, then Done in the next window. Your folder or file should be accessible from the other computer.
Connecting two computers using Ethernet cable brings different advantages. It is essential to take note of the steps you've chosen to troubleshoot, in case there are issues. You can also consider using the cloud, OneDrive, over WiFi, or even email to share files quickly.