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  Peer Networking Using CrossOver Cables
Peer-to-Peer Local Networking Using CrossOver Cables
by: Tom Anderson

Ever need to make a quickie connection between two computers? There are many different ways this can actually be accomplished without having to set up a bona-fide network.

In the early laptop days, there was a piece of software called LapLink which permitted users to connect their laptops to a desktop or another laptop computer via serial or parallel port cable.

These days, most business laptops come configured with a PCI Ethernet card already installed. Travelling with your buddy on the train? Need to share a critical file and you don't have 35 diskettes to transfer that huge Powerpoint presentation you've been working on? You can easily create a quick peer-to-peer network without any fancy hardware or software.

You just might save yourself a bundle of headaches if you keep a CAT5 cross over cable in your laptop bag.

A Cross Over cable is a special Ethernet cable with the sending and receiving wires switched on opposite ends. When two computers are connected with this cable in the normal RJ45 port, you have the ability to create a local workgroup style network between the two machines. This of course is not a replacement for a normal network connection, but can be a great way to 'hop' large files between two machines.

You must change a couple of network settings, but they are not difficult if you take a couple of minute to understand what is going on. We will use a Laptop and a Desktop as our example machines in this example. Each machine will be running some variant of the Windows operating system other than Windows NT Server or Win2000 Server.

You will need to start by getting into the Network Neighborhood settings. Either right click on the Network Neighborhood icon and select properties or go through the control panel.

On machine 1, check to see if you are using DHCP. DHCP will not work in a cross over connection and you will need to set a static IP address. We will change the IP address settings on either one (or both) machines to use similar IP numbering schemes:

IP Scheme: Make sure the first three octets are the same and the last octet is different


Computer 1:
Computer 2:

The subnet mask entry must also be identical on both machines.


The Domain or Workgroup must also match between the two machines.

Close the network neighborhood and you should be prompted to reboot. Make sure the computers are linked using your special cable. After the reboot, go to the network neighborhood of one of the computers. The other machine's network name should be visible to you!

Cable Drawings
Network 10/100 baseT cables use 8-conductor, unshielded twisted-pair (UTP) wire. Category 5 wiring should be free of tight kinks and should be protected from pinches caused by fasteners, staples, cable ties, etc. Loose excess cabling must not be coiled up in loops. A cable from the hub to a PC may not exceed 328 feet in length.

Standard Cable

Standard cables are used to connect PCs to the network hub.

Crossover Cables

Crossover cables are designed to connect hubs together, expanding the capacity of a network. Crossover cables may also be used to connect two PCs together without the use of a hub.

RJ-45 Diagram

10/100 baseT cables use RJ-45 connectors on the ends. The following diagram shows how to determine the pin numbers on the connectors.

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