Transferring Files between PCs

Sooner or later you will find yourself in a situation where you need to transfer files between two PCs. Maybe you bought a new PC and want to transfer your documents from the old PC to the new PC. Maybe you have a laptop and want to synchronize the files between your desktop and your laptop.

For this purpose, Windows comes equipped with a great tool called Direct Cable Connection. The following steps will explain how easy it is to use.

Windows 9x

You need:

  • both PCs up and running and within 6 or less feet from each other
  • your Windows 95/98 installation CD
  • a laplink cable

First, let’s designate the PC where you want to take the files FROM as the HOST PC. The PC you want to copy the files TO is the GUEST PC.

 

The right cable

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s make sure that you have the right cable. The type of cable needed for this is called a null modem or laplink cable. It is a special type of parallel cable with male connectors on both ends. You can buy this type of cable in any halfway decent computer store for about 5 bucks. If your favorite computer store does not carry such a simple item, it’s time to find a better store. Make sure they don’t sell you a regular parallel or printer extension cable.

Plug the cable into the parallel port of each PC. If they are both off, power them on after plugging in the cable. If they are running, you need to restart each PC after plugging in the cable.

Install Direct Cable Connection

Once you’re in Windows, it’s time to make sure that you have Direct Cable Connection installed on both PCs. Go to Start/Programs/Accessories/Communication and look for Direct Cable Connection. If you cannot find it, look a little more under the other categories/menus in Accessories. If you still can’t find it, go to Start/Settings/Control Panel and double-click Add/Remove Programs. Click the Windows Setup tab, highlight Communications and push Details. In the resulting Window, look for Direct Cable Connection and see if it is checked. If not, that would explain why you could not find it – it is not installed yet. Check the box and push OK. This is a good time to insert your Windows 95 or 98 installation CD because Windows might now ask you for it so it can copy the necessary files. Now push OK again. You should not have to reboot, but if you are prompted to reboot, please do so.

Install NetBEUI

Now you have to install a networking protocol in order for the two machines to be able to communicate with each other. On each computer, go to Start/Settings/Control Panel/Network/Configuration and look in the list of installed components for the NetBEUI protocol. If it’s already there, great. If not, you need to install it. Click Add…, select Protocol and click Add…. Select Microsoft from the list of Manufacturers and NetBEUI from the list of Network Protocols, then click OK. After a few seconds the screen will go back to the Configuration screen. Now you should see NetBEUI listed here. Click OK to finish installation, you’ll probably be prompted to insert your Windows CD and then reboot.

Set up File Sharing

The next step is to share files, folders, or drives on the HOST PC to allow the guest PC access. On the HOST PC, go to Start/Settings/Control Panel and double-click on Network. Go down the list of installed components and look for File and Printer Sharing. If it is not there, click the gray button below, labeled File and Printer Sharing and follow the instructions on the screen to install and activate it.

Set up the connection on the Host

That’s it. Now you have Direct Cable Connection and File Sharing installed and you can start the actual file transfer. You start on the PC that has the files you want to retrieve.
Go to Start/Programs/Accessories/Communication and click Direct Cable Connection. This will start a Wizard that walks you through the process. You will be asked whether this PC is the host or the guest. As we established earlier, the one with the files you need is the host and should be the one you’re at right now – so choose Host and click Next.
Now you need to choose what type of connection you want to use. The first option listed should be Parallel Cable On LPT1. Select it and click Next.
On the next screen you will be given the option to use password protection. If none of the two PCs is connected to a network or to the outside world in any other way, you can ignore it. Otherwise, be sure to use it. Click Finish.
Now you should get a Status Window telling you the PC is waiting to connect via parallel cable on LPT1. If that’s the case, you are done with this PC. Go to the other PC.

Set up the Guest

The other PC is the Guest. You have to go through the same steps here to verify that Direct Cable Connection is installed, install it if not, then start it. The difference is that on this PC you select Guest when prompted. It will then look to see if there is a host PC present, log into it, verify user name and password if you chose to utilize password protection and establish the connection. Then you will see an Explorer Window appearing, showing the contents of all shared drives from the host PC.

Windows 2000

From the Windows 2000 help file:

To make a direct network connection by using a DirectParallel cable

  1. Open Network and Dial-up Connections.
  2. Double-click Make New Connection, and then click Next.
  3. Click Connect directly to another computer, click Next, and then do one of the following:
    • If you want your computer to act as the host (your computer contains the information you need to access), click Host.
    • If you want your computer to act as the guest (your computer accesses information on another computer), click Guest, and then click Direct Parallel (LPT1) in Select a device.
  4. Follow the remaining instructions in the Network Connection wizard.

Notes

 

  • To open Network and Dial-up Connections, click Start, point to Settings, and then click Network and Dial-up Connections.
  • A direct network connection that uses a DirectParallel cable requires a stand-alone computer running Windows 2000.
  • To create a direct network connection, you must be logged on as Administrator or as a member of the Administrators group.

Windows XP

From the Windows XP help file:

To make a direct network connection by using a DirectParallel cable

  1. Open Network Connections.
  2. Under Network Tasks, click Create a new connection, and then click Next.
  3. Click Set up an advanced connection, and then click Next.
  4. Click Connect directly to another computer, click Next, and then do one of the following:
    • If you want your computer to act as the host (your computer contains the information you need to access), click Host.
    • If you want your computer to act as the guest (your computer accesses information on another computer), click Guest, and then click Next.
  5. In Device for this connection, click Direct Parallel (LPT1) and then click Next.
  6. Follow the remaining instructions in the Network Connection Wizard.

Notes

 

  • To open Network Connections, click Start, click Control Panel, click Network and Internet Connections, and then click Network Connections.
  • A direct network connection that uses a DirectParallel cable requires a stand-alone computer running Windows 2000 or Windows XP.
  • You must be logged on as an administrator or a member of the Administrators group in order to complete this procedure. If your computer is connected to a network, network policy settings may also prevent you from completing this procedure.

Transfer the Files

You’re all set! All you do now is drag and drop the files from the host PC window to the guest PC. A parallel cable connection is not the fastest thing in the world, though. If you have several hundred MB worth of data to transfer, this might take a few minutes, so please be patient. This is more of an occasional, temporary solution. If you need to do this on a more frequent basis, you should consider setting up a network for easier and faster transfer. See the Home Networking Guide for more information.

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