Network Basics: Configuring Internet Access

To enable the network users to access the Internet, you need to make sure that the TCP/IP configuration settings on each client computer are set correctly. If you have a high-speed Internet connection, such as T1, DSL, cable, or ISDN, connected to the Internet via a router and your network uses DHCP for automatic TCP/IP configuration, you may not need to do anything special to get your clients connected to the Internet.

Configuring clients for DHCP

The easiest way to configure client computers to access the Internet via a shared high-speed connection is to use DHCP. DHCP automatically distributes the detailed TCP/IP configuration information to each client. Then, if your configuration changes, all you have to do is change the DHCP server’s configuration. You don’t have to manually change each client. Plus, the DHCP server avoids common manual configuration errors.

Before you configure the clients to use DHCP, you should first set up the DHCP server. The DHCP server’s configuration should include:

  • A scope that specifies the range of IP addresses and the subnet mask to be distributed to client computers.

  • The IP address of the router that should be used as the default gateway for client computers to reach the Internet.

  • The IP addresses of the DNS servers that clients should use.

Note that DHCP can be provided either by a server computer or by an intelligent router that has built-in DHCP.

After the DHCP server is configured, setting up Windows clients to use it is a snap. Just follow these steps for Windows 7:

  1. Open the Control Panel and click View Network Status and Tasks.

  2. Click Change Adapter Settings.

  3. Right-click the LAN connection icon and choose Properties.

    This brings up the Local Area Connection Properties dialog box.

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  4. Select Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4) from the list of items used by the connection and then click the Properties button.

    This displays the Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IP) Properties dialog box.

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  5. Make sure that both the Obtain An IP Address Automatically and Obtain DNS Server Address Automatically options are selected.

    These options enable DHCP for the client.

  6. Click OK to return to the Local Area Connection Properties dialog box and then click OK again.

That’s all there is to it. The computer is now configured to use DHCP. You should check to make sure that every computer on your network is configured for DHCP.

If your network doesn’t have a DHCP server, you’ll have to configure the TCP/IP configuration manually for each computer. Start by deciding the IP address that you want to assign to each computer. Then, follow the preceding procedure on every computer. When you get to Step 4, enter the computer’s IP address as well as the IP address of the default gateway (your Internet router) and the IP addresses of your DNS servers.

Frankly, setting up a DHCP server is a lot easier than manually configuring each computer’s TCP/IP information, unless your network has only two or three computers. So unless your network is tiny, get a DHCP server.