When you sign up with an Internet Service Provider, either for the first time or when you want to change, they usually provide a software bundle to make their lives easier. It saves their tech support hours on the phone getting people set up. That is a good thing, for new computer users, but it has drawbacks. Often it installs customizations to your web browser and makes changes in the registry that seemingly cannot be undone by changing settings within the browser. For example, many ISP’s make changes such that you get a dialogue box asking you if you want to disconnect after X minutes of inactivity. Other ISP’s even go so far as to install software that monitors keyboard and mouse inactivity. (one that I subscribed to previously actually, but at the be.g.inning I unknowingly avoided that because I always manually set up my ISP accounts. It wasn’t until I read their Terms and Conditions that I learned of it).
If you are running Windows 98 or 95, you have all the software you will need to connect to the internet, surf the web, send and receive mail and participate in Usenet News Groups. There is really no need to install the ISPs custom software – just configure what you already have.
Only if you have a really old version of Windows 95, then you might need to install the ISPs software at least temporarily, so you can download a newer version of Internet Explorer. Windows 95 original comes with version 1.0 which is antique by today’s standards and won’t be able to perform a lot of the functions required from a browser.
First Step – Talk to your ISP on the Telephone
After you have made the decision on which ISP to use (see Choosing the Right ISP for some guidance), get all of the connection information from them. Tell them you know how to set it up yourself and that you need to know:
The phone number you will be using to connect. Make sure it’s a local number to avoid paying long-distance charges.
Your username and password (and how to change the password after they’ve assigned you a temporary one)
Your e-mail username and password (if different from above), the POP3 mail server for incoming mail (e.g.. mail.domainname.com), the SMTP server for outgoing mail (if different from POP3…e.g.. smtp.domainname.com) and… don’t forget the address of your ISP’s News server (e.g.. news.domainname.com). They might not provide this unless you specifically ask for it, as many customers have never even heard of Usenet Newsgroups.
The primary and secondary DNS (Domain Name Servers). Even if it’s not necessary (server assigned) it’s a good idea to enter the values, as it may speed up the process of resolving addresses. Ask them for the numeric IP addresses to enter in the fields. (you’ll see what we’re talking about soon as you follow the tutorial)
Any additional miscellaneous settings. For example, most ISP’s do not need the “log onto network” box checked, which is by default checked when you set up a DUN account. That function will drastically slow down your login if it’s not required. Also, you need to know if your IP address is server assigned or whether it has to be specified at your end (most ISP’s are server assigned). You can always call back if you’ve forgotten something, but it’s best to get all the info the first time as you may have to wait on hold if calling back.
That pretty much covers the info you’ll need to get from your ISP. The next step is to install Dial-Up Networking (DUN), the Dial-Up Adapter, the Networking Client and the TCP/IP protocol. These are the pieces that make Internet access possible. And there is a good chance that these items will already be installed, especially if you are running Windows 98.