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Using Windows XP Internet Connection Sharing to share your home Internet connection with you H/PC


Applies To:

  • Windows XP Home Edition
  • Windows XP Professional


This article describes how to enable Internet Connection Sharing under Windows XP. This article follows on from our Network 101 guide which discusses what you need to connect your Windows CE based Handheld PC to a Network.

Internet Connection Sharing primary role is to share your Internet connection with other Network clients. However in doing so it provides some automation for your Network addressing, meaning that you do not have to worry about configuring TCP/IP options on your Handheld PC.

How-to Guide:

By now you should have purchased all the Network hardware and cabling that you need to create your Network. The first step in setting up your Network is to configure the Host computer. You can perform this manually by following this guide, or use the Network Setup Wizard (Preferred) which is available from the Start Menu.

NB: The Network Setup Wizard will further automate the process of setting up your network and will allow you to create a disk which you can use to automatically configure other computers on your Network

Which computer should be the Host computer?

The Host computer for your router-less network is usually the main computer on it. It must have an Internet connection, either Dial-up or Boradband.
The Host computer will become the most important computer on the Network. As you are configuring your Network to provide automatic address assignment from this Host computer. In order for any client to connect to the Network the Host computer will need to be running and to provide an Internet service to the Network it must be logged on.

Configuring the Windows XP ICS Host

Microsoft have provided a Windows utility called Internet Connection Sharing (ICS) to make this process easier for users of the Windows operating system. ICS has been improved in Windows XP to allow any user to quickly configure the advanced settings of the Network without requiring advanced knowledge in TCP/IP.

Before proceeding please physically install the Network Interface Card (NIC).
Once you have physically installed the NIC and turned your computer back on, Windows XP will attempt install the driver software.

Windows XP can usually find a valid driver for the card. If it fails, you will need to insert the Floppy Disk or CD that came with your NIC.
Once this has finished you may wish to check Windows Update for updated NIC drivers.

The Network will currently be disconnected as it has no address information.

We want to use ICS to automatically configure this system's IP, Subnet, DNS and Gateway address information.

NB: Please ensure that you are logged in as the computers administrator
This guide assumes that you have already setup a working Internet connection

  1. Click Start
  2. Select Settings
  3. Open the Control Panel
  4. Select 'Network and Internet Connections

  5. Then choose 'Network Connections'

  6. Highlight your Internet Connection

  7. Right Click it and select 'Properties'
  8. On the connection properties screen select the 'Advanced' tab
  9. In the Internet Connection Sharing section enable the 'Allow other network users to connect thought this computers Internet connection'

Dial On Demand - If you wish to have your computer automatically dial the Internet connection when requested by a client on your network enable the 'Establish a dial-up connection whenever a computer on my network attempts to access the Internet option.
If you have a dial-up Internet connection, you may wish to disable this option as the accuracy of the 'useful' Internet request system in ICS is fairly poor. As a result your phone line may be tied up in your absence. If you use a pay-per-minute Internet connection, then you should disable this as a matter of course.

Remote Internet Control - The final option on the Windows XP ICS configuration screen is only relevant to other Windows Host computers. 'Allow other network users to control or disable the shared Internet connection' allows network clients running Windows 98, Millennium, 2000 and XP to control the Internet connection. This option has no effect on Windows CE.


Windows XP contains a basic firewall. A firewall is a method of blocking other people on the Internet from gaining access to your computer.

We recommend that you enable the Internet Connection Firewall on your Internet connection. While at this time the firewall is limited. Microsoft are working on an improved version with better filtering which will be available in the release of Windows XP Service Pack 2.

Once you click Ok to apply the settings, Windows will be configured to act as the Internet Connection Sharing Host.

You can now connect your network cables and proceed to configure the network settings on your Windows CE based Handheld PC

Technical Information

ICS will configure your network on a Class C IP range

The ICS Host computer will be assigned the following IP details:

IP Address:
Subnet Mask:

Dynamic IP address assignment over DHCP will be on the range of 192.168.0.x with the last octet having a range from 2 to 254. However there is a 10 client limitation on ICS enabled networks.

This means that you can only have 10 client computers (nodes) connected to your network at any one time. You can remove client computers if you need to add an additional computer, however a maximum of 10 computers cannot be exceeded.


Your ICS host will be configured to act as a basic DNS server. It will allow for Name resolution of Internet Domain Names and also Network nodes.


Internet Connection Sharing provides a basic level of application support for your Internet needs. However is is not comparable to a hardware or server level solution.

You can host public services using Internet Connection Sharing, including but not limited to a Web server, FTP Server and e-mail servers.

ICS cannot intelligently route information back into your network. For example, if you use Microsoft Windows Messenger, you will not be able to receive files, video or audio from users outside of your network. The ICS Host computer is not affected by these issues.