How to Link Two Computers

By Jennifer Claerr

There are several different ways to link two computers together. Depending on what type of computers you have, and what sort of link you're needing to create, at least one of these methods will work for you.

Step 1

Set up a wired network. This is the safest, most secure and fastest way to share files and an internet connection between two computers. When setting up a wired network, you will probably need a router or a hub to connect your two computers. While it is theoretically possible to connect two computers using an ethernet crossover cable, such connections are troublesome and often fail to link the two computers together. A wired network can be difficult to set up if the two computers are in separate rooms. It may require running cable through the walls or attic. As an alternative, you can purchase a network extender kit to turn your home's electrical wiring into network lines.

Step 2

Set up a wireless network if a wired network won't work for you. You will need a wireless router, a wireless access point for the second computer, and all necessary cables, including ethernet cables. When shopping for a wireless router and access point, it's a good idea to buy the best products regardless of price. It's also a good idea to buy ahead of the market. If you purchase Wireless B or G, you may be sorry in the long run if these quickly become obsolete. Purchasing Wireless N products will help to protect you against planned obsolescence and keep you on the cutting edge of the technology for a longer period of time. Set up the wireless network by rerouting your computer's connection to the DSL or cable modem through the wireless router.

Step 3

Connect the two computers together with a null modem cable if ethernet networking is not an option. Attach the null modem cable to the RS-232 serial ports of each computer. This option can only be used to connect two computers, and generally results in slower transfer speeds than ethernet networks. Alternatively, you could also use a USB networking cable which is specially bridged to allow two computers to communicate.

Step 4

Run the network setup wizard or use the software which came with your device. Be sure to turn on file and printer sharing or you will not be able to access the other computer's files from your computer. You may also need to disable your firewall or create an exception in order to access files.

Tips & Warnings

  • If installing a wireless network, be sure to change the default username and password. If you don't, your neighbors may soon be surfing on your account.
  • Do not attempt to use a regular USB cable to network your two computers, as this can potentially damage your computers.