Windows 95 Networking: The Basics

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This chapter provides an overview of Windows 95 networking, including a discussion of compatibility and operational improvements introduced with Windows 95, streamlined steps for network configuration, and a summary of Plug and Play networking support.

The Windows 95 operating system includes built-in networking support with a wide range of improvements over earlier versions of Windows. This includes built-in support for popular networks, plus an open, extensible networking architecture.

For supported networks other than Microsoft networking, the computer must already have the networking software from another vendor installed. Windows 95 Setup adds only the client or protocols required to work with Windows 95. The following networks are supported:

  • Artisoft® LANtastic® version 5.0 and greater

  • Banyan® VINES® version 5.52 and greater

  • DEC™ PATHWORKS™ (installed as a protocol)

  • Microsoft networking — Microsoft LAN Manager, Windows for Workgroups 3.x, and Windows NT

  • Novell® NetWare® version 3.11 and greater

  • SunSoft™ PC-NFS® version 5.0 and greater

The built-in networking components include support for a wide range of network transports (such as TCP/IP and IPX/SPX), industry-wide communications protocols (such as RPC, NetBIOS, and named pipes), and existing network device standards (such as NDIS and ODI). Because of the extensible architecture, other network vendors can add network connectivity enhancements and application support, and you can mix and match components at every layer. For information, see Chapter 32, "Windows 95 Network Architecture."

The following list summarizes the benefits of networking features in Windows 95.

Robust networking components using no conventional memory.

The protected-mode clients provided with Windows 95 — Microsoft Client for NetWare Networks and Client for Microsoft Networks — use only 32-bit, protected-mode protocols, drivers, and supporting files. On large block transfers over the network, these protected-mode clients are up to twice as fast as real-mode clients under Windows 3.x. Windows 95 includes new 32-bit drivers for network protocols and adapters, plus a new implementation of TCP/IP.

Easy, graphical configuration for all networking components.

All network clients, adapter drivers, protocols, and services are installed and configured by using the Network option in Control Panel rather than by editing configuration files manually. All configuration values for protected-mode components are stored in the Registry.

Automatic setup of Windows 95 on network workstations.

For both Windows-based and MS-DOS – based computers, Setup upgrades the network software whenever possible to a Windows 95 protected-mode client and supporting protected-mode components, based on information detected about existing networking components. Setup also supports automated installation and customization during installation from setup scripts, plus installing Windows 95 to run from a local hard disk or from a shared network copy. For information, see Chapter 4, "Server-Based Setup for Windows 95," and Chapter 5, "Custom, Automated, and Push Installations."

Peer resource sharing with protected-mode network clients.

Any computer running the protected-mode Microsoft Client for NetWare Networks or Client for Microsoft Networks can be set up to serve as a file and print server for other computers on the network. Resources can be protected with user-level security on NetWare or Windows NT networks using existing user account databases. On Microsoft networks, resources can also be protected with share-level security.

Simultaneous connection to multiple networks on a computer.

The number of network connections allowed on a computer running Windows 95 depends only on the limits of your networking software. (Windows 3.x supported connection to only one network. Windows for Workgroups 3.11 allowed simultaneous connection to only two networks.) For information, see Chapter 32, "Windows 95 Network Architecture."

Plug and Play networking support.

You can insert or remove a PCMCIA network adapter while the computer is running, and Windows 95 assigns the required resources automatically and makes or removes the network connection. For any network adapter that uses an NDIS 3.1 driver, you can remove a docking unit without turning off the computer. If you disconnect the network cable from a computer running Windows 95 with Plug and Play components, the system continues to function. With most real-mode network clients, this causes the system to stall. For more information, see "Plug and Play Networking Overview" later in this chapter.

Unified logon, login script processing, and resource browsing.

You can use the Windows 95 unified user logon and password caching to log on to Windows NT, Novell NetWare, and other networks. Automatic login script processing is provided for Microsoft and NetWare networks. Users can access network resources by using Network Neighborhood or common dialog boxes, such as the Open or Save As dialog boxes. For more information, see Chapter 11, "Logon, Browsing, and Resource Sharing."

Automatic reconnection for lost server connections.

When servers are available again after the loss of a network connection, Windows 95 reconnects automatically and rebuilds the user's environment, including connection status, drive mappings, and printer connections.

Client-side caching of network data with protected-mode clients.

A protected-mode network client is a file system driver that uses the same 32-bit cache (VCACHE) used by all Windows 95 file system drivers, so it can cache network data for quick access. Files read across the network are copied to the RAM cache and made available to applications much faster than they would by rereading the file across the network. For a given file request, the cache is checked for the needed data before checking the network. This feature is available when running Client for NetWare Networks or Client for Microsoft Networks. For more information, see Chapter 20, "Disks and File Systems."

Long filenames for network resources.

Computers running Windows 95 can recognize and use long filenames on other computers running Windows 95, on Windows NT servers, and on NetWare 3.x and 4.x volumes that have been configured to use the OS/2® namespace. For more information, see Chapter 20, "Disks and File Systems."

Support for the Win32 WinNet interface.

This is an API that allows developers to create applications that run unmodified on different networks. The Win32 WinNet interface in Windows 95 supports 16-bit and 32-bit applications (as opposed to the WinNet interface in Windows 3.x, which supports only 16-bit applications). For information, see Chapter 32, "Windows 95 Network Architecture."

User profiles and system policies for automatic configuration.

To take advantage of system policies, the computer must be running a protected-mode network client such as Microsoft Client for NetWare Networks or Client for Microsoft Networks. For information, see Chapter 15, "User Profiles and System Policies."

Agents for network backup and remote management.

Windows 95 includes backup agents for Cheyenne® ARCserve and Arcada® Backup Exec. Agents for Simple Network Management Protocols (SNMP) and Microsoft Network Monitor are available in the ADMIN\NETTOOLS directory of the Windows 95 compact disc. When the correct system management agent is installed on client computers, you can use a service such as HP® Open View or Microsoft Systems Management Server to manage workstations remotely. For information about remote administration, see Chapter 16, "Remote Administration."

Dial-up networking for remote access.

Windows 95 supports multiple protocols for remote access, including TCP/IP, IPX/SPX and the industry standard, Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP). For information about remote access protocols and connection types, see Chapter 28, "Dial-Up Networking and Mobile Computing."

On This Page

Windows 95 Networking: The Issues
Network Configuration Overview
Plug and Play Networking Overview
Basic Troubleshooting for Networking

Windows 95 Networking: The Issues

If the real-mode network is running when you start Windows 95 Setup, the appropriate network client is installed automatically. This is the recommended method for installing networking support in all cases. When Setup detects existing network components, it installs the appropriate supporting software automatically and moves the configuration settings to the Registry, wherever possible.

If Windows 95 Setup detects that NetWare networking components are present, it installs the new protected-mode client, Microsoft Client for NetWare Networks, plus the supporting protected-mode protocol and adapter drivers. Client for NetWare Networks is not installed automatically, however, if Setup detects VLM running with NDS support. To maintain the existing real-mode client and support configuration, you must run Setup in Custom mode and manually select the NetWare client. For more information, see Chapter 9, "Windows 95 on NetWare Networks."

Microsoft recommends using the 32-bit, protected-mode networking components wherever possible. With protected-mode networking components, all configuration settings are stored in the Registry, so you do not have to maintain configuration files such as AUTOEXEC.BAT, PROTOCOL.INI, or NET.CFG. The protected-mode networking components also allow you to take advantage of the many related benefits such as:

  • Performance and reliability

  • Peer resource sharing capabilities

  • Use of system policies for administrative control, remote administration of the Registry, and use of the network agents, such as Network Monitor and Remote Registry service, available in the ADMIN\NETTOOLS directory on the Windows 95 compact disc

If you must run a real-mode client, networking settings are required in AUTOEXEC.BAT, plus a NETSTART.BAT file might be required to start the network during system startup. Configuration settings are maintained in PROTOCOL.INI or a similar file, depending on the particular network.

Network Configuration Overview

You can install and configure all networking options for Windows 95 automatically or manually during Windows 95 Setup. You can also install and configure networking support after installing Windows 95 by using the Network option in Control Panel. In the Network option, you can set properties for the following:

  • Configuration of network clients, adapters, protocols, and services

  • Identification of the computer on the network

  • Access control, to specify the security used when other users access this computer over the network

In the procedures presented in the following sections, it is assumed that Windows 95 and the appropriate networking hardware have already been installed on your computer. You might also need to install or configure various supporting components, such as security, mobile networking components, agents for backup and remote administration software, and support for user profiles and system policies.

Tip To quickly display the Network option in Control Panel, right-click the Network Neighborhood icon on the desktop, and then click Properties on the context menu.

Installing Networking Components

The recommended method for installing networking components for Windows 95 is to ensure that the existing real-mode networking components are running when you start Windows 95 Setup. In this case, Setup detects the existing components and installs corresponding support for Windows 95 automatically and, wherever possible, migrates configuration settings to the Registry. For more information about how to do this, see Chapter 3, "Introduction to Windows 95 Setup."

This section summarizes how to install networking support by using the Network option in Control Panel after Windows 95 is installed. Specific issues for installing various network components are discussed in the other chapters in this part of Windows 95 Resource Kit. The following procedures describe the general steps that are required for installing networking components.

To install a driver for a new network adapter after Windows 95 is installed

  • Run the Add New Hardware option in Control Panel, and be sure to answer Yes when asked whether Windows 95 should search for new hardware.

To install networking components after Windows 95 is installed

  1. In the Network option in Control Panel, click the Configuration tab, and then click Add.


  2. In the Select Network Component Type dialog box, double-click the type of component to install, as described in the following list.





    Installs client software for the types of networks the computer is connected to. You can use either a 32-bit network client (which needs no real-mode components) or older real-mode networking clients. There is no limit to the number of 32-bit network clients you can install, but you can have only one real-mode network client installed at a time. Some networks are supported only as primary networks. For information, see Chapter 10, "Windows 95 on Other Networks."


    Installs drivers for the network adapters in the computer. However, the recommended method for installing a new adapter is to use the Add New Hardware option in Control Panel. You can configure the type of driver to use (such as enhanced-mode NDIS, real-mode NDIS, or ODI), specify the resources for the adapters you are using (such as I/O, IRQ, and transceiver type), and define other options for the adapter. For information, see Chapter 12, "Network Technical Discussion."


    Installs network protocols and sets related options. For information, see Chapter 12, "Network Technical Discussion."


    Installs peer file and printer sharing services and other types of network services, such as backup agents, additional print services, Microsoft Remote Registry, and Network Monitor. For information, see Chapter 16, "Remote Administration."

  3. In the Select dialog box, select the name of the component manufacturer in the Manufacturers list, and then select the specific component in the Models list. Then click OK.

Note: Some components require that you shut down and restart the computer after installing them.

You can also install and configure networking components by using custom setup scripts or system policies. For information, see Chapter 5, "Custom, Automated, and Push Installations," Chapter 15, "User Profiles and System Policies," and Appendix D, "MSBATCH.INF Parameters."

Setting Computer Name and Workgroup

Windows 95 requires that you define a workgroup and computer name for each networked computer, independent of the type of networking software you use. This information is required if you install networking software during Windows 95 Setup. You can also change the computer name or workgroup after Setup is complete.

To specify the computer name, workgroup, and description for a computer

  1. In the Network option in Control Panel, click the Identification tab.


  2. Type the values for the computer identification settings as described in the following list.



    Computer Name

    The computer name must be unique on the network. It can be up to 15 characters long, with no blank spaces. The computer name can contain only alphanumeric characters, plus the following special characters:! @ # $ % ^ & ( ) - _ ' { } . ~


    The workgroup name does not need to be unique, but it uses the same naming conventions as the computer name. For information about using WRKGRP.INI to set administrative guidelines for specifying the workgroup that can be selected, see Chapter 5, "Custom, Automated, and Push Installations."

    Computer Description

    This information is displayed as a comment next to the computer name when users are browsing the network.

Starting the Network During System Startup

If your computer uses 32-bit, protected-mode networking components exclusively, you do not need statements in AUTOEXEC.BAT or other startup batch files to start the network when you start the computer. The installation of the correct protected-mode network client, protocol, and network adapter driver, as shown in the Network option in Control Panel, is all you need to ensure that networking is available whenever you start Windows 95.

If your computer uses any real-mode components for the client, protocol, or network adapter driver, then you must include commands to start the network in AUTOEXEC.BAT or a batch file that is called from AUTOEXEC.BAT. This is because real-mode components must be inserted properly in the startup sequence to be available to other parts of the system.

For real-mode components on NetWare networks, the NET.CFG or similar file is used to start and configure networking during system startup. The user or network administrator must maintain this file. For Microsoft networks, the net start statement in AUTOEXEC.BAT is used to start any real-mode networking components. If this statement is required for any components, the operating system automatically places the net start statement at the beginning of AUTOEXEC.BAT. If you (or another user) removes this statement, the system replaces it so that the real-mode networking component is available the next time the computer is started.

The PROTOCOL.INI file stores settings for real-mode networking components. The only sections that might be read are [PROTMAN$], [netcard], and [NDISHLP$]. For information about the content of PROTOCOL.INI, see Chapter 8, "Windows 95 on Microsoft Networks."

Plug and Play Networking Overview

The networking components in Windows 95 are designed for dynamic Plug and Play operation with most ISA, EISA, PCI, IBM Micro Channel®, and PCMCIA network adapters. To take advantage of these features, the computer must be running all protected-mode networking components, including client, protocols, and network adapter drivers.

NDIS 3.1 supports adding and removing Plug and Play network adapters dynamically while the computer is running. If an event occurs such as undocking a portable computer, the Windows 95 protocols can remove themselves from memory automatically. However, the Windows 95 protocols must load information during system startup to be available. So when an event occurs such as the dynamic addition of a PCI network adapter, the operating system prompts you to restart the computer. If you are certain that the required protocol is already loaded, you can ignore this message.

Additional Plug and Play networking benefits are available when you use 32-bit sockets with PCMCIA cards. You can click the PCMCIA icon on the taskbar to remove the card without shutting down Windows 95 or turning off the computer. Using the PCMCIA icon causes the operating system to perform an orderly shutdown. Windows 95 notifies applications that the network is no longer available and automatically unloads any related drivers or protocols.

To help mobile users who might need to change adapters in their hardware, Windows 95 uses 32-bit Card and Socket Services to support hot removal and insertion of PCMCIA cards, including network adapters. Support for hot docking means that users do not have to restart their computers each time they make a change to the configuration. For information about using and configuring PCMCIA cards, including how to enable 32-bit Card and Socket Services, see Chapter 19, "Devices."

Network Plug and Play support in Windows 95 includes application-level support. An application created for Windows 95 might be designed with the ability to determine whether the network is available. Therefore, if a network adapter is removed, for example, the application automatically puts itself into "offline" mode to allow the user to continue to work, or it shuts down.

Basic Troubleshooting for Networking

This section provides basic troubleshooting information for installing network components with Windows 95. For additional information about troubleshooting for particular networks, see the chapters in Oart 3, "Networking." For information about general troubleshooting procedures and the supporting tools provided with Windows 95, see Chapter 35, "General Troubleshooting"; for information about troubleshooting network problems, see online Help.

When troubleshooting network problems, start by verifying the network operations status prior to and during the error condition. To evaluate the network problem, check these factors:

  • Did the network work before? If so, what has changed? If any hardware or software has been added or removed, reset the original network hardware or software, and try again.

  • If the network was provided by another vendor, was it installed previously and working? If not, reinstall the other vendor's network. Verify that the network operates correctly. Reinstall Windows 95.

  • Has any network cable been moved or added? Check cables, connections, and terminators.

  • Have any protocols been added or removed? Check protocol settings, protocol bindings, and the compatibility of the protocol with the network.

  • Are the network adapter settings correct? Check network adapter settings. Consult the documentation for the correct settings. Reset the adapter settings to the correct values if necessary. Restart the computer and try again.

  • Has any network adapter been moved or added? Check the adapter connection, and check any other working adapter.

  • Are the network connections live? Look at the status lights on the back of the network adapter or on the media attachment unit. If the status lights show activity, the connection is live. If the status lights show no activity, disconnect and reconnect the network cable and check for activity. If the lights on the adapter are off, try a different network outlet.

Check domain or server validation.

Verify that the network domain or server is validating the user account. If the logon isn't validated, connections to required servers cannot be made, login scripts won't run, and so on. If the network domain or server doesn't validate the account, perform each of the following procedures.

To check the logon setting

  1. In the Network option in Control Panel, double-click the network client (for example, Client for NetWare Networks or Client for Microsoft Networks).

    In General properties, do the following:

    • For Client for Microsoft Networks, verify that logon validation is enabled and that the correct domain name or preferred server is shown.

    • For Client for NetWare Networks, verify that the correct server is specified as the Preferred Server.

To check the user and workgroup names

  • In the Network option in Control Panel, click the Identification tab. Check the computer name and workgroup name.

Also check basic logon requirements. For example, verify that the user password and the domain or preferred server account are correct, and test basic network functionality, such as viewing or connecting to other servers.

Check connections to network resources.

Determine whether domains, workgroups, and workstations appear in Network Neighborhood. If they appear, try connecting to a server or workstation. If they do not appear, then verify that at least one server exists on the local network and that client services and protocols are installed. Also, check cable termination.

If you cannot connect to the server or workstation you want, review the error messages. At the command prompt, use the net use command (as described in Chapter 11, "Logon, Browsing, and Resource Sharing") to verify that you can connect to at least one server and workstation. If you cannot connect to any server or workstation, then check workgroup assignment, domain assignment, domain logon, and basic network operations.

If you still cannot connect, determine whether you can connect to a server from another computer. If this doesn't work, it probably indicates a problem with the server you are trying to connect to, or with the cabling or routing to that server.

Verify that the File and Printer Sharing service appears in the list of installed network components to ensure that peer resource sharing is enabled. Also verify that the correct settings for the browsing method are configured in the properties for the File and Printer Sharing service. For information, see Chapter 11, "Logon, Browsing, and Resource Sharing."

Check network adapter and protocol configuration.

The following procedure summarizes how to check settings for network adapters. For more information about configuring network adapters, or for detailed troubleshooting steps for protocols, see Chapter 12, "Network Technical Discussion."

Note: If the network adapter is not terminated, Windows 95 stalls during system startup (similar to Windows for Workgroups 3.11). To test whether this is causing a computer to stall, try terminating the network adapter directly.

To check network adapter settings

  1. In the Network option in Control Panel, double-click the entry for the network adapter in the list of installed components.

  2. Click the Advanced tab, and verify that each entry in the Property area has an appropriate value specified in the Value area. For information, see your hardware documentation.

  3. Click the Resources tab, and then verify that the configuration type, I/O address range, and IRQ are correct. Again, for information, see your hardware documentation.

  4. Click the Driver Type tab, and then verify that the appropriate driver type is selected. (If you are using a protected-mode network client, the default is an Enhanced Mode NDIS Driver.)

  5. Click the Bindings tab, and verify that each protocol is checked. If a protocol is not checked, that protocol is not providing network functionality using that adapter.

Check real-mode network components.

To check basic network communications, you can use the net diag command with a second computer connected to the same local network. As a diagnostic tool, net diag can assist you in troubleshooting network connectivity problems by establishing a diagnostic server and then verifying that the local computer can connect to this server.

To establish a diagnostic server on a second local computer

  1. At the command prompt, type:

    net diag
  2. When a message appears showing you the protocols in use, press one of the numbers indicated in the message to specify the protocol to test.

  3. When a message appears prompting you to specify whether a diagnostic server exists, press N.

To verify that the diagnostic server is detected in a Windows 95 VM

  1. On the computer that is not the diagnostic server, at the command prompt, type:

    net diag

    A message appears showing the protocols in use.

  2. To specify the protocol to test, type one of the numbers in the message for the protocol used on the diagnostic server.

    A message appears stating that the diagnostic server has been detected.

To reinstall the protected-mode drivers in Windows 95

  1. In the Network option in Control Panel, make note of each installed component.

  2. For each component, click the component, and then click the Remove button.

  3. Install the components by following the procedure named "To install networking components after Windows 95 is installed" in "Installing Network Components" earlier in this chapter.