Just joining 2 random PCs together

Greetings experts,

I'm hoping to hear from a totally general perspective, what is involved in just making 2 random PCs "see each other" - whether or not either or both are or are not laptops, whether or not they both have the same OS on them, whether or not either or both have a USB port and/or a serial port, whether or not they were ever part of ANY network or whether or not they were part of the same network etc.

And for what business/techincal requirements/scenarios might actually physically "joining" or "networking" 2 PCs be the optimal and/or only solution?

For moving large quantities of data between 2 PCs, actually joining the 2 PCs doesn't seem necessary anymore with the advent of USB and external USB harddrives, or heck, those little thumbdrives exist for up to 5 Gigs nowadays.

What about migrating a database, i.e. SQL, Oracle etc., from one PC to another?  You could just back it up and restore it.

What about those rare instances when you absolutely have to use one random computer as a client to a database on another random computer?

What about peer-to-peer gaming - you just want to play something like Age of Mythology on the 2 PCs.  How can you "link them"?

I will be generous with points on this one and I'm hoping to get a plethera of different answers and experiences.


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If both computers have a Ethernet Card you can use a crossover cable
IF the both have a serial port you can use a null modem cable
DalTXColtsFanAuthor Commented:
What exactly is a crossover cable?
Hi DalTXColtsFan,

An ethernet crossover cable allows 2 network devices to communicate without requiring a switch or hub between.

Good Luck,

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DalTXColtsFanAuthor Commented:

Most of that page deals with connecting the computers through a cable or DSL modem, but there is one picture at the top that shows just two connected computers.

Are you saying that all I need to do is buy a crossover cable, plug it into the ethernet jacks of the two computers I want to join, and then if they're members of the same workgroup they'll be able to see each other just as if they were on the main LAN?

Depending on the network protocols associated with that adapter, yes. If you want to us IP, you will need to statically assign IP's.

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The general answer to having 2 computers talk to each other, there must be a way to connect them, and a way they can understand each other.  The primary way that computers understand each other today, is throught the use of the TCP/IP protocol.  This way, it does not matter if the computers are Windows, Macs, or Linux, or any other OS; as long as both use TCP/IP, they can talk with each other, including transfering data.

There are many ways to connect 2 computers together, including using an ethernet crossover cable connected directly between two computers, using a hub/switch which is connected to two (or more) computers, wireless, such as 802.11; as long as you are using the same type (a,b,g) on each side, it is possible to connect 2 computers directly, or through a wireless access point.

Also available, if both computers have it, is bluetooth, another type of wireless communications.

And as you mentioned above, you can export data to an external device, such as a hard drive, memory stick, etc, then import to another computer.

Each of the connection methods may also have some security issues that would need to be set up to allow communications.

Hope this helps,

DalTXColtsFanAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the solutions - I'm also looking for specific examples - what are some business/technical circumstances/requirements under which the only solution to truly satisfy the requirement or solve the problem was to actually network the 2 PCs together?  I'd appreciate it.


In the normal business network, which uses a client/server type system, there is, or at least can be a high level of security, with many computers connected together (many = 2 or more).

When we are talking about connecting 2 computers together, it is normally a peer-to-peer network; there is no server, and no security of the client/server type.  However, if you are using cable to make the connection (could be a serial connection, a parallel connection, ethernet crossover cable, or USB connection) the security is good, because there is no practical way for anyone to access the data transfer.

If you are using regular wireless (802.11) or bluetooth, it is possible for someone to evesdrop or tap into your data transfer.

As to your question about when is this the ONLY solution, it would be when you have only two computers; this presumes there is no client/server network available to which they can be connected.

In general, if a computer is connected to a multi-computer network, whether it is a peer-to-peer, or a client/server network, data transfer is very easy.

So, if you have a situation where you do not have a network set up, and need to transfer data, using any of the methods to create a direct connection a quick way to get the data transfered, and probably the cheapest.

As for the requirements, it is dependant on the type of connection you want to use.  The choice of connection methods is dependant on what the capabilites each computer has; if both computers have ethernet, or USB 2.0, that would be easy to set up.  Likewise, if both have bluetooth or compatible wireless cards, that will work.

If, as sometimes happens, if you have an old computer that may not the same communication capabilities as a new computer, it may be necessary to use some sort of an adaptor; the options are many.

Your question is still a bit vague, but I have tried to give general info that will help.  If you have a specific situation where you need to connect two specific computers together, I would need to know the specific info about each computer.

Hope this helps,

DalTXColtsFanAuthor Commented:
I haven't had the opportunity to actually test any of your answers, but I will go ahead and close the question for now.

Thanks everyone.
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