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Internet Connection Sharing: Don't Bother.


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Internet Connection Sharing: Don't Bother.

Internet connection sharing: Don't bother. All versions of Windows released since Windows 98 SE include a feature called Internet Connection Sharing (ICS) that lets you share a dial-up, cable, or DSL Internet connection with multiple PCs. Though it sounds good on paper, ICS can be difficult to configure and manage.

First of all, ICS requires that you designate one computer as the gateway PC through which all your Internet traffic passes, and this PC must be powered on for the other computers to connect to the Internet. Second, unless you're sharing a dial-up connection, you'll need to install two network cards in the gateway: one that connects to the broadband modem and one that connects to your LAN.

In most cases, you'll be far better off with an Internet gateway router, such as those sold by D-Link and Linksys. These devices provide a connection between your LAN and the Internet. They're inexpensive (they're available for as little as $49) and easy to install, and they use very little power. Virtually all gateway routers use Network Address Translation, or NAT, to share your DSL or cable modem's single IP address with all the PCs on the LAN. Better still, most routers include a firewall feature that helps protect your LAN from hackers and intruders.

Don't have a broadband connection? In some cases a gateway device includes a serial port or an internal modem so that you can use it to share a dial-up or ISDN connection. Some models include 802.11 wireless network access points; others have built-in print servers; and almost all include three- or four-port 10/100 Ethernet switches.

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