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  PC-Net's PC News - December, 1998
Don Watkins

Learning to Share - Modem Sharing

By Don Watkins



December 1998--I have found something worse than arguing over the TV remote, the "good" spot on the couch to relax in, or any other commodity: high-speed Internet access.

Once you have experienced a high-speed connection, you never want to go back. So how do you determine who gets the access and at what time? That's a tough question. One way to bypass this question completely is to install software that allows all users connected to a LAN to use the same connection at the same time. This month, we'll examine how to achieve that goal using Windows 95 or Windows 98.

There are a number of alternatives to choose from: Proxy Servers (Wingate), modem sharing software, and NAT gateways (Sygate). I had the opportunity to look at Wingate version 2.1d and Sygate Version 1.2 and 2.0.

My cable company recommended Wingate as the way to have more than one computer share the same IP address. At the time I asked, multiple IP addresses for one cable modem were not possible with my cable company. In fact, some cable companies may require that you purchase a separate IP address for each machine that will access the Internet via the cable modem.

But I digress. I downloaded Wingate and began reading through the installation/configuration information. It became obvious there was going to bemuch configuration needed for the computer connected to the cable modem and the applications that would use this connection. After much reading, I concluded this was complexity beyond my scope.

A friend recommended I look at Sygate. I visited their site, downloaded their version 1.2 evaluation software (it allows you to transfer up to 75MB of data over the connection), and scanned their short, page installation instructions. Most of the instructions dealt with configuring the IP addresses of the other computers connected to the Net. Version 2.0 has added a "Mini-DHCP" server, which eliminates the need for most of the manual IP address configuration, making the installation process even simpler. Once the IP addresses were configured and verified (the instructions were very clear on how to do this), it was a matter of installing the software. The software immediately recognized if it was running on the computer connected to the cable modem or on one of the other computers on the LAN. It doesn't get much simpler than this.

Once the software was installed, all Internet applications recognized the connection and were available for use. No manual configuration/intervention was necessary, as it was according to Wingate's documentation. (Note: According to Wingate's Web site, a new version of their software should be released soon that may address some of these configuration issues. I have not seen the new version yet).

One additional note: In order for this type of connection to work, two separate Network Interface Cards (NIC) must be installed in the computer that's connected to cable modem. This separates the LAN from the Internet connection for security purposes. It sounds complex, but it really isn't. Both cards need to have TCP/IP bound to them using the Control Panel Network control. Your cable company will supply the information needed for the cable modem and Sygate supplies the information needed for the other NIC. It took about less than 10 minutes to configure everything.

If you are considering high-speed Internet access and would like to have all the users on your LAN to have access to this connection, I recommend you take a look at the products I have discussed. My personal favorite is Sygate, because of its simple installation.

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