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Networking ABC's


Amethyst
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A post on this forum about networking brought up some questions I've had before on the subject, but I didn't want to hijack that thread. I don't know anything, really, about home networks or how they work. I just know what we have here, and stuff seems to be working the way we want and need it to, but I also have a question about an 'internet gateway' which shows up when I check 'Network Connections'.

There are 3 computers and one Xbox 360 console on our home network. We are all behind a secured Linksys router. We're quite physically isolated here, so no one is going to hack into the router, but I still have a secure setup anyway. The desktop computer, running Windows XP Media Center Edition SP3, is connected by ethernet to the router. The other 3 devices--a Windows XP Pro SP3 laptop, a Windows Vista Home Premium (SP1, I think) laptop, and the Xbox 360 console--all have a wireless connection. Every day on bootup, I am prompted by the desktop that it has found an Xbox 360 and would I like the desktop to connect to it. I do not have them connected, nor do I wish them to be. The two laptops share the printer, which is installed on the desktop. The XP Pro laptop and the desktop are networked, so they share a folder and I use that feature once in a while to transfer a file or a picture, that sort of thing. The XP Pro laptop can 'see' the desktop, but the desktop cannot 'see' the XP Pro laptop. The Vista laptop has not been networked to the others, although it can use the desktop to print. It can 'see' the desktop computer, although I've never done anything to actively network the 2. It's not really a part of the network labeled "MSHome", but it can detect the presence of that network.

When I click on Network Connections, I have an Internet Gateway there. When I check the status, it shows Internet->Internet Gateway->My Computer (which would be this desktop). The Internet Gateway has a lot of packets back and forth, the My Computer just the packet exchange for this desktop. If I right click and check Properties and then Settings for the Internet Gateway icon, it shows 2 listings for the Xbox: 1 for the Xbox and 1 for Xbox Live. I see the IP addresses currently listed there correspond to the Xbox console for one and my son's laptop for the Xbox Live. (My router assigns IP addresses as it sees fit, so they do change from time to time.)

I have been curious about this for a long time. When I first saw it, I was alarmed and thought, "Good grief, is all our internet going through the Xbox console?" But when I ping or run a tracert, it doesn't show that at all. Also, this gateway shows up even when the Xbox console and my son's laptop are powered off. I was checking this when my son was away for a week last summer, and this gateway thing was still showing up.

Is there some sort of simple explanation for this, for internet connection sharing or something? (I've seen the term "Internet Connection Sharing", but I don't really understand it. I thought it meant that one device would share its connection with others, which means the other device would have to go THROUGH the first one to access the internet, so if that first device were powered OFF, no internet...???) I mean, I would have thought that each of these devices independently goes to the internet via: device->router (which assigns an IP address to each device)->modem->and out to cyberspace via our satellite dish. The DNS servers are through our ISP and those are showing up correctly when I check. Each device in the household can connect to the internet on a standalone basis, whether or not any of the other ones are even powered on.

Is the router the gateway?

(Temporarily connecting one computer directly to the modem tends to cause problems here which usually results in tech support from my ISP being required, so if this could be answered without my having to do that, that would be best. And I'm quite sure that this 'gateway' wouldn't be present in that case anyway.)

If any of you experts know of a link to somewhere that explains this in a simple way, I would appreciate it. Thanks!

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The gateway is indeed your router. The fact that the PC sees the xbox discovered on the network, and displays your router in the network connections as a 'gateway' icon both indicate that UPNP is enabled on the router, the xbox, and your PC.

'Gateway' is also the networking term for the router or device that directs traffic from one network to another (in your case from the LAN to the internet).

also, a quick note:

On my set up at home, I have disabled UPNP on my PC, because I have no interest in media sharing on the XBOX and grew tired of the discovery messages. I know if I want to connect to the router, I just type the router's IP address into my browser. This in no way has a negative impact on the xbox's ability to use the internet.

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Thanks so much, PedroHin. That was very helpful. :)

We don't have media sharing set up with the Xbox either, neither I nor my son are interested. Maybe he'll want to set that up with his laptop at some point, but he can sort all of that out when he's living on his own. :)

I also access the router by typing in the router's IP address if I want to check settings or logs.

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