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Dated: Aug. 13, 2004
Related CategoriesWindows 2000
Networking In General
In this article we'll take an in-depth look at Win2000's networking features and system utilities. Keep in mind that although Win2000 comes in different flavors (including Win2000 Server, Win2000 Advanced Server, and Win2000 Datacenter Server), we're focusing on the version you're most likely to use at home: Win2000 Professional.
Windows NT is generally regarded among IT (information technology) professionals as the most stable and secure Windows OS (operating system). As we explained before that Win2000 and WinXP are both built on the WinNT core, so WinNT's inherent stability and security exist in Win2000/XP, as well. The difference among these OSes, though, is mainly in how users implement them. For instance, while WinNT is mainly confined to corporate networks, Win2000 works equally well on big networks, small home networks, and standalone desktop and notebook PCs.
WinXP also works in a variety of environments, depending on the edition. WinXP Professional Edition offers many of the same networking features found in Win2000, but WinXP Home Edition lacks Win2000's flexibility when it comes to networking. However, both the Home and Pro editions of WinXP include the Network Setup Wizard, which walks you through every step in the process of setting up a network.
Networking lets two or more computers share data and other resources with one another, but there are many different types of networks, and some are more secure than others. Win98/Me and WinXP Home are designed to accommodate peer-to-peer networking, whereby individual computers are connected to one another, and each networked computer processes its own data and manages its own security. This works fine for a small network, such as those found in many home, SOHO (small office/home office), or small-business settings, but doesn't normally meet the security needs of larger networks. In a typical corporate network, for example, network administrators must have control over network resources (such as printers), and some users require more network privileges than others.
Win2000 and WinXP Pro work well in a peer-to-peer network, but these OSes are designed to handle client/server networking, where in multiple clients (computers, or workstations) connect to one or more servers (computers that control the network's software and each client's access to other parts of the network). Client/Server networks afford network administrators the capabilities necessary for keeping the network secure, distributing software and patches to clients, monitoring network traffic, and managing network resources.
If you're not interested in heavy-duty networking capabilities but you do want to connect two or more computers for sharing external resources, such as an Internet connection or a printer, you're on a fairly level footing with any of these OSes. However, if you want to share data on a hard drive, Win2000/XP give you greater control over what drives, directories, and files can be shared, and over what permissions individual users will have for accessing, changing, and deleting data.
If you open Windows Explorer in Win98/Me, right-click a file or folder, and select Properties, you'll find checkboxes for three basic attributes: Read-Only (which makes it so no one can change the file or folder), Archive (which indicates whether it should be archived as part of a scheduled or manual backup), and Hidden (which makes it unavailable when the option to not show hidden files and folders is activated). No additional security options are available.
If, by contrast, you right-click a folder (but not a file) in Win2000/XP and select Properties, you'll see a sharing option that lets you designate whether that folder will be accessible to other users. Win2000 is different from Win98/Me/XP in that you can right-click a file or folder in Win2000 and control how any number of user accounts can access it; access options include Full Control, Modify, Read and Execute, Read, and Write.
What a user account is depends partly on what Windows OS you're using, but basically it's a collection of settings that's associated with a particular user name. One big difference between Win98/Me and Win2000/XP is the way in which each handles user accounts.
If you use Win98/Me/XP, and if each time you turn on your computer it launches - Windows, loads a consistent set of settings, and doesn't require you to select a user login, then chances are you are always using the same default user account. Indeed, if this is the case, you might not realize that you're using a user account at all. In Win98/Me, the default user account is the only user account unless you go to the trouble of creating additional ones. WinXP may seem similar to Win98/Me because, unless you change the WinXP default settings, it looks as if it has only one default account. But in fact, WinXP is much like Win2000 because both OSes have two default accounts: one for the administrator (the computer's primary user) and one guest account.
You can create multiple user accounts on one computer using any of these OSes, but if you want the greatest amount of control over user privileges, Win2000 is the way to go. In Win98/Me you can assign Desktop folders, Start menu programs, Internet Explorer Favorites, and other items to a specific user account. Then when someone logs in using her own user account, she can locate her folders, programs, favorites, and other items more easily. By contrast, in Win2000 you can assign password and networking permissions.
If there are multiple accounts set up on a Win98/Me computer, when prompted for a login username and password, you can type nothing, but click the OK button, and the OS will go ahead and log you in using the default user account. In Win2000, you have the option to require users to type a password before logging in, thereby further restricting access to the PC. WinXP's user account controls lie somewhere in between Win98/Me and Win2000. WinXP is unique among these OSes, though, because each user account can have its own Desktop theme and settings and because it supports switching from one user account to another without having to log off or close running programs.
That's it for this week. Check out the next week's article right here on TechiWarehouse.Com.
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