Computer networks are moody. When they're working at their best, they're pure pleasure, seamlessly connecting PCs to one another and to the Internet. On the flip side, they break down for no apparent reason, and they act ornery just when you need them most.
This section offers tips for dealing with your network's temperamental side, helping you alleviate common frustrations and take action when things go awry.
If you use a laptop at the office and at home, and you have different network setups for each, you can hit networking hell when you move from one to the other. Specifically, your settings may not work in both places, forcing you to constantly change them. Here's a quick fix: set up two IP configurations , and let Windows XP switch between the two as needed. (The IP configuration simply tells your computer whether to use the same IP address every session or to change it each time; see Sidebar 6-3 for more on IP addressing.)
If you access the Internet, you already have one IP configuration. To find it, right-click Network Places on the Start menu or desktop and choose Properties; the Network Connections folder opens. Right-click your main network connection and choose Properties. In the dialog box that opens, select the Networking tab and highlight Internet Protocol (TCP/IP), then click Properties. The Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) dialog box appears, which contains all your IP information.
To create a ...