Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
TCP/IP is the protocol of the internet (in fact, the I stands for Internet), so anything you do on the internet requires that you use TCP/IP.
TCP/IP can be a little difficult to set up at times, though, because it requires things like routers and subnets and DNS ... oh my! If all you want is a few machines on a small local area network, different protocols might be easier to setup.
Protocols like IXP/SPX and Netbeui are less efficient, and even somewhat less secure, than TCP/IP, but on a small network that may simply not be an issue. Also, with TCP/IP being the predominant network protocol these days, not all applications, and not all networking hardware support other protocols.
But the good news is that for simply sharing files and printers across a local area network, once installed, these protocols usually "just work".
Let's install IPX.
In Control Panel, open up Network Connections:
Right click on Local Area Connection, and click on Properties, and this dialog results:
Click on the Install... button, and this dialog appears:
Click on Protocol, and click Add.... After a few seconds, a dialog similar to this will appear:
Click on the NWLink IPX/SPX... protocol, and click OK. The protocol will be installed.
Once you're done, you'll return to the Properties dialog, only this time the new protocol will be listed:
Click on Close, and it's likely you'll then need to reboot your machine for the installation to complete.
Now you'll note that Netbeui was not one of the options. That's because technically Netbeui is no longer a supported protocol by Microsoft. However, they still include the drivers on the Windows XP CD-ROM. The process is similar to what we just did for IPX, but rather than walk through it again, an article in the Microsoft Knowledgebase details How to install Netbeui on Windows XP.
Which protocol you'll actually want is somewhat vague, because it depends on what problem you're attempting to solve, and what your applications and networking equipment support. But do remember this: you will need TCP/IP to talk to anything on the internet. Fortunately, you can have more than one protocol installed at the same time.
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