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Lisa, I have another "sharing printers" question, but a bit different than the one I read on site.

Lisa, I have another "sharing printers" question, but a bit different than I one I read on site. Originally we were set up at home with two laptops and a Netgear wireless router that was in turn hooked to our Comcast cable modem. Shared a printer, shared files, worked wonderfully.

Then, both laptops died within a couple of weeks of each other. Both were replaced by PCs from within our extended high tech family. One PC has Win 98 and the other Win 2000 Pro. Both have lots of memory and fast chips.

They are now both hard-wired to the wireless router via Ethernet cables, but can't get the network to share the printer. What's wrong?

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Microsoft file and printer sharing can be frustratingly difficult when multiple operating system versions are involved. Here are some tips on how to go about debugging your problem:
  1. Start by verifying network connectivity between your PCs by using "ping" (accessible from a DOS/Command window on both W98 and W2K). Once your PCs can ping each other, move on to sharing.
  2. Using the Network Connections control panel, enable the Microsoft Client for Windows Networks, File/Printer Sharing, and NetBIOS protocol on both PCs. You'll know you have this configured correctly when each PC can browse Windows Network Neighborhood and see itself and its own shared files and printers.
  3. To share file and printers between W98 and W2K, you'll need to put both PCs in the same workgroup (not domain). When choosing a workgroup name, don't use spaces or special characters.
  4. You'll also need matching logins and access rights on both PCs – especially to access shared files and printers on the W2K PC. If you log into your W98 and W2K PCs with different usernames, use W2K Administrative Tools to add your W98 username/password to the W2K PC's Users list. If you aren't prompted for a username at all on your W98 PC, use the W98 Control Panel to create a local User account that matches your W2K PC username/password. (If you don't want to (or don't have permission to) create a new user, you can access a shared resource with a different username by invoking the "net use" command line utility.)
  5. At this point, you should be able to browse the Windows Network Neighborhood on one PC and see your workgroup, the other PC, and its shared files or printers. If not, try explicitly searching for the other PC by name or IP address, using the Search (for computers) tool from the Start menu. Or try using the "net" command line utility to diagnose Network Neighborhood problems –- see "net help" for more information.

This was first published in December 2004

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