Network Printing From DOS Programs

Even with the popularity of newer operating systems like Windows XP, it’s still not uncommon for users to stick with older DOS applications like WordPerfect 5.1. Unfortunately, DOS programs typically have no sense of a network, and can only print to printers attached to local ports like LTP1.

Now, you could limit yourself to using your DOS program from the same computer to which your printer is attached and avoid the issue completely. However, if this isn’t an option (or you’re using a hardware print server) you’ll need a way around the issue.

If you’re running a DOS app that needs to print over the network, all is not lost. All you need to do is map LPT1 to a network port. To do this, fire up a Command Prompt and enter net use lpt1: \\printservername\sharedprintername /persistent:yes. After entering this command, everything send to LPT1 in the DOS program is automatically redirected to your network printer. It’s worth noting that the command needs to be entered by someone with administrative privileges on a Windows XP system.

Printing Over The Internet with Internet Printing Protocol

If you’re running Windows XP Professional, it’s actually possible to extend your network printing capabilities clear across the Internet. When Internet Information Services (IIS) is installed on Windows XP Professional, you have the ability to connect to and manage your printers via the Internet Printing Protocol (IPP). IPP works by processing print jobs sent to the printer using the HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP), the same protocol used to connect to web pages.

You may question why you would possibly want to send print jobs over the Internet, but there are a few handy applications. First, you could be sitting at the office and send a job to your printer at home, ensuring that it will be ready and waiting for your return. Or, you may want to do exactly the opposite, namely print to a printer at work from home. Regardless of the reason why you choose to use it, Internet printing extends network printing to a long way from home.

Once IIS is installed on the print server, you can manage a printer from Internet Explorer by accessing the address http://printserver/printersharename. This will allow you to control the printer’s settings, and handle tasks like purging or pausing print jobs. If you want to print to the printer, use the Add Printer Wizard to add an HTTP printer using the URL http://printserver/printers/printersharename/.printer. If you need to get to your printer over the Internet, you’ll also need to configure your firewall to redirect requests to your public IP address on port 80 to the internal IP address of your print server, and specify that public IP address in the URL to access the printer.

Driver Issues with Shared Printers

Once you’ve installed a printer and shared it, you need to give some thought to the operating systems that will need access to the device. Assuming that you’ve shared the printer from a Windows XP system, the required driver files for Windows XP and 2000 clients will be made available by default – all these systems will need to do is connect to the printer and they’ll download the driver automatically.

Of your network includes Windows 9X or ME clients, however, you’ll need to install the appropriate drivers for them to use the printer. These drivers are installed on the Windows XP system from which the printer is shared, and once available will also be downloaded automatically the first time Windows 9X or ME clients connect to the printer.

To install the required drivers for operating systems other than Windows XP and 2000, open the properties for your shared printer under Printers and Faxes in Control Panel. On the Sharing tab you’ll find a button marked Additional Drivers. If you press this button the Additional Drivers window opens, and lists which drivers are currently installed for your printer.

Check the checkbox next to Windows 95, 98, and Me to add the drivers for these operating systems. Once you click OK you’ll be prompted to specify the location of the driver files, which are usually accessible from the CD that was included with your printer (you can also download them from the manufacturer’s web site if necessary). Once supplied, you may also be prompted to insert your Windows 9X or ME CD, so it’s a good idea to have it handy.

Sharing Printers

Thankfully, sharing a printer with other computers on your network is remarkably easy, especially if you’re running Windows XP. If you haven’t installed your printer yet, you’ll be given the option to share it during the installation process. All you need to decide is what the printer’s share name will be – in other words, the name it will go by on your network. As a general rule, the name that Windows will suggest won’t be very helpful, so make a point of giving it a name that will make it easy for other users on your network to recognize and identify. For example, if you’re planning to share both a laser and inkjet printer on your network, names like LASER and INKJET will make the shared printers easier to identify.

Sharing a printer from Windows 9X or ME isn’t really any more difficult than from Windows XP, but you’ll need to ensure that you have File and Printer Sharing installed and enabled first. You can add the service from the properties of your network connection, and enable it via the File and Printer Sharing section that appears in your network properties after rebooting your system. Once enabled, you can share your printer from the Sharing tab found in its properties pages.

After a printer has been shared from a PC, that computer takes on the role of acting as print server on your network. That means that on top of whatever else you expect the computer to do, it will also be responsible for processing all incoming print jobs. In some cases (with older and slower PCs), this computer may experience performance issues, especially on networks where the printing load is consistent or heavy. If you find that the PC you’ve shared the printer from isn’t up to the task, consider switching the role to a faster computer, or investing in a hardware print server as will be outlined in the next article.

Networking Printers

One common misconception about network printing is that it’s only possible if your printer comes equipment with an Ethernet network port. Thankfully, this just isn’t true. The real story is that you can make any printer network-accessible by connecting it to a networked PC with a suitable operating system. So, it is possible for computers on your network to print to a printer attached to a Windows 95 system via a parallel cable, or a printer connected to Windows XP via USB. No built-in networking support for the printer is required.

While “sharing” a printer connected to a PC is still the most popular way to network a printer, it’s far from the only option. Some printers do come with built-in networking support, especially higher-end models. Another option is to connect your printers to a dedicated print server, of the wired or wireless variety.

The method that you choose will depend on your particular requirements, existing hardware, and of course your budget. The good news is that network printing solutions come in all shapes and sizes. Once you set up network printing on your network, you’ll wonder how you ever got by without it.

Changing Your PC’s Clock for Daylight Savings Time in 2007

If you’re a Windows user in Canada or the United States, there’s a reasonable chance that you awoke to find your PC’s time settings wrong this morning. Daylight Savings Time has been moved forward by a number of weeks starting this year (to Sunday, March 11 2007 to be exact), and without the necessary updates, there’s a good chance that your PC is living in the past.

The issue won’t affect many Windows Vista and XP users who have been applying updates diligently via Automatic Updates, but if your patches aren’t up to date your system may be affected. Thankfully, there are quick fixes available to help get your PC’s time back on track.

The manner in which the fix for the Daylight Savings Times settings are applied depends on your version of Windows. Microsoft has issued a handy wizard-based tool that will walk you through the necessary download and making the changes that will ensure that your PC keeps the right time given these changes.

You can find the tool via the Daylight Savings Time Help and Support Center. Of course, if your clock is already telling the time correctly, then you probably already have the patch installed and having nothing to worry about.

Scrubbing Your Way to Safer Family Web Browsing

There’s little question that keeping your family safe online is a challenge. With thousands of web sites serving up everything from porn to spyware, it arguably just as easy to stumble upon inappropriate or dangerous content as it is to seek it out. For parents trying to keep their kids out of harm’s way, the challenge is compounded – in most cases, the kids know more about the home computer than Mom or Dad ever will.

Thankfully there are ways for parents to help keep their kids safer when surfing the web. There’s certainly no magical one-size-fits-all solution, mind you, but there are many easy steps that parents can take to make the web a safer place for their kids. I plan to write about many of them in the coming days, weeks, and months, but I thought I’d start things off with a very simple technique that can help parents make the web safer for children almost instantly – changing your DNS server settings.

Before we get to the parental control details, a quick primer on the Domain Name System (DNS). In a nutshell, DNS is the service that translates a “name” like into the IP addresses that computers on the Internet use to communicate. When you type one of these names into your web browser, your computer sends a request to a DNS server to obtain the associated IP address. The “resolved” IP address is then used to connect to the web site or server you want to visit.

Normally, your ISP configures your computer (or home networking router) with the IP addresses of 2 of its DNS servers automatically. When your computer needs to resolve an address, it sends a “query” to one of these DNS servers. As part of doing their job, the DNS server determines the IP address you need and sends it back to you. It doesn’t pass judgement on the request – it just provides the answer.

Now back to the point, namely how parents can make surfing safer for the family using DNS. First, you are not bound to using the DNS server addresses provided by your ISP. You can use “third party” DNS servers as well. I bring this up because there’s a relatively new (and free) DNS service available to anyone who wishes to use it called ScrubIT. Basically, if you set up your computer (or router) to query ScrubIT’s DNS servers rather than your own, inappropriate content such as pornography and the like will be filtered automatically. If someone tries to visit a web site flagged as having inappropriate content, they are redirected to page that displays the message “PAGE HAS BEEN SCRUBBED!”

While switching to ScrubIT’s DNS servers will certainly help to minimize your family’s potential exposure to “questionable” content, it shouldn’t be confused with a fully-featured parental control program. If your children have administrator-level user accounts or the password to your broadband router, for example, they can easily switch back different DNS servers and negate your changes entirely. Similarly, if they know the IP address associated with the site they want to reach DNS is not required and the connection will likely succeed.

Even with the potential to be circumvented by a tech-savvy family member, ScrubIT is still well worth a closer look. It offers a great solution for parents with younger children, as well as for those who haven’t granted their children full administrative control of the home PC. I strongly suggest that you check it out for yourself – switching DNS settings is super-simple and the instructions provided on the ScrubIT web site couldn’t be easier to follow.

Using Windows Safe Mode to Get Rid of Gunk-Ware

To me, Windows’ Safe Mode is one of the best inventions since sliced bread. I find that most “gunk-ware” (temp files, cache, and even some spyware and malware) can sometimes better be cleaned when the computer is booted into this special diagnostics mode. Since Safe Mode only loads a minimum of prescribed drivers and services, usually you don’t have the problem of trying to delete a file that is “in use” or running as a process (as a lot of malware does in normal mode).

Whenever I encounter a computer that is slow, sluggish, or in need of a good cleaning, the first thing I do is boot into the Safe Mode (Command Prompt) option and start cleaning house. When you do this, it’s a good idea to login as the local administrator account, or an equivalent account, because you’ll need higher privileges to complete some of the actions I’m going to describe. Because it’s difficult to delete some files belonging to the user profile you are currently logged in as, try to login as a user that normally does not log into the machine (you don’t log in normally as the local administrator, right?!) on a routine basis.

As a precautionary note, it’s a good idea to back up your system before executing any of the commands I’m going to discuss, of course. Although you shouldn’t have any ill side effects from any of these methods, I do have to warn you that these are just some of the things I do to clean gunk; try them at your own risk, your mileage may vary, offer not good in all states and countries, and so forth. Having said that, let’s move on.

One logged in, I usually change to the system’s root directory (usually known on the average PC as “C:”) and start there. First, I delete all of the .tmp files that can take up space and hide malware. Run this command at the prompt:

C:> del *.tmp /s /f

The /s switch recurses all subdirectories, and the /f switch forces a delete even if the file is in use (hopefully it won’t be since we’re in safe mode).

Free Anti-Spyware Programs

Call them what you will, but one thing is for certain: spyware, malware, and adware have become the bane of many a PC user’s experience. While IT departments in larger organizations have done a good job of cleaning up systems and locking them down to prevent future infections, the average home user’s PC continues to be the perfect breeding ground for these pesky pests.

Unfortunately, most users still mistakenly believe that having an anti-virus program installed is enough to keep their PC safe. Certainly some of the popular anti-virus packages do an admirable job of eradicating spyware, but most are still focused on removing traditional viruses and offer spyware fighting capabilities as little more than an afterthought. Thankfully, there are plenty of free tools (for personal use) available online that can be downloaded and installed to keep just about any PC spyware free.

When choosing the right free anti-spyware program for your home computer, keep the following points in mind:

  • Spyware removal tools typically do not offer real-time protection. In other words, these tools will work towards trying to remove any existing pests that may be present, but will do little (if anything) to prevent future infections.
  • Compared to paid alternatives, most of the free anti-spyware tools offer little in the way of advanced features. For example, commercial anti-spyware programs like Spyware Doctor offer integrated tools to foil keyloggers and detect phishing scams. Most of the free programs are pretty bare-bones, but can still be 100% effective at detecting and removing spyware.
  • As with anti-virus programs, you should never try to run more than one anti-spyware tools that offers real-time protection at once. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with having multiple anti-spyware tools installed on your computer, you should only use the real-time protection features of one of these programs at any one time.
  • Updating and scanning regularly are crucial – as with anti-virus programs, staying completely protected means having the latest spyware definitions installed, and then scanning for spyware regularly.

If you do choose to go the “free” route, then it’s also important to be on the lookout for rogue anti-spyware programs. Many spyware developers and shady organizations have taken to scamming users into installing their supposedly free tools, many of which actually infect computers or display false results in a bid to scare you into a purchase. Before you download and install any anti-spyware tool, you should take a closer look at the Rogue/Suspect Anti-Spyware list maintained by the good people at

And now, without further ado, our list of great free anti-spyware resources:

  • Spybot Search & Destroy: This tool has been around for a long time, has always been free, and it’s still being updated regularly. If you’re sticking to free anti-spyware software only, then this makes a great secondary scanner.
  • Windows Defender: It’s technically still in beta, but if this program from Microsoft offers great real-time protection, regular updates, scheduled scanning, and it’s very easy to use.
  • CWShredder: This free scanning tool is designed to identify and eradicate the nasty (and very popular) CWS pest in its many variants. Many other anti-spyware tools have problems dealing with this troublesome pest, but this quick little program gets the job done by focusing its energies.
  • Ad-Aware SE Personal: This free scanning and removal tool doesn’t offer real-time spyware protection, but it does an excellent job as a secondary scanner on a PC with other real-time protection software installed (a second opinion never hurts!)

If you’re already well-versed in the spyware game, then you’re no doubt already familiar with these programs. However, it’s PCs belonging to normal, everyday Windows users that suffer the scourge of spyware most prominently. So, rather than just kick back and enjoy the fact that you’re computer is safe, I’m asking that you please take the time to help other users clean up their PCs by getting the right tools installed. After all, it doesn’t have to cost them a penny!

Securing Windows XP Using Automatic Updates

Keeping Windows XP updated with the latest critical security patches released by Microsoft is one of the most effective ways to protect your PC against exploits designed to take advantage of known flaws. This article explains how you can ensure that XP is configured to download and install the necessary updates automatically.

In much the same way that cars periodically require preventative maintenance, so too does your computer. Like any piece of software, Windows XP is not perfect. From time to time, flaws are discovered that present a potential security risk, and it’s up to you to ensure that these holes are properly patched. If you neglect to update your PC, you run the risk that an attacker could gain access to your computer remotely, install dangerous programs or viruses, or even render it unable to function.

Thankfully, Windows XP is an easy operating system to keep updated. Using a feature known as Automatic Updates, you can configure your Windows XP computer to check for, download, and install critical updates automatically as they’re released. The process is so easy that there’s really no excuse why any Windows XP system should go unpatched and protected. Outside of critical security updates (which are released by Microsoft as flaws are discovered), the Automatic Updates feature will also download and install new Service Packs as they become available.

To check the status of Automatic Updates on your Windows XP system, follow these steps:

  1. Click Start > Control Panel.
  2. Open Security Center. If you don’t see a Security Center icon, it means that you don’t have Windows XP Service Pack 2 installed.
  3. In the Security Center window, ensure that Automatic Updates is set to On (with a green icon). If set to On, the feature will download and install updates automatically, as available when you connect to the Internet.
  4. If Automatic Updates is set to anything other than On, click the Automatic Updates link in the Manage security settings for section of the Security Center window. This will open the Automatic Updates window.
  5. Click the Automatic (recommended) option to enable Automatic Updates for your PC.

With Automatic Updates enabled, Windows XP will now automatically download and install all critical security updates and Service Packs as they’re released. In some cases you may be prompted to restart Windows XP in order to complete the update installation process, but an on-screen message will alert you when this is necessary and give you the option of delaying the restart until it’s more convenient for you.