Vista provides the capability to connect two different network types through software. This feature is referred to as network bridging. Network Bridging can eliminate the need to buy a hardware device to connect two different networks.
For example, you can bridge a phone line with an Ethernet network. Vista acts and the bridge between the two networks and computers on either network can communicate as if they were directly connected.
Bridging is similar to routing, but it’s more appropriate for small network because it’s easier to configure and doesn’t require different sets of IP addresses on each network segment. Technically, bridging occurs at the physical level of the network protocol stack. Windows forwards network traffic, including broadcasts and packets of all protocol types received on either adapter to the other. In effect, it creates one larger network.
To enable bridging in your Vista computer, install and configure two or more network adapters. However, don’t worry about setting up the Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) parameters for either of the adapters because once you enable the bridge, any original settings are lost.
Once the network adapters are installed, complete the steps described below:
- View the connection icons by clicking Start, Control Panel, Network and Internet, Network and Sharing Center, Manage Network Connections.
- Select the icons you want to bridge by clicking on the first, holding down the Shift key, and clicking on the second.
- Right-click on one of the icons and select Bridge Connections.
- A new icon appears. Select the new bridge icon and, if you want, rename it appropriately.
- Double-click the bridge icon. Select Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) and configure your computer’s TCP/IP settings. You must do this because any TCP/IP settings for the original two adapters are lost.
When you’ve created a bridge, your two network adapters function as one and share one IP address, so Microsoft disables the “network properties” of the individual network adapters. You must configure your computer’s network properties with the bridge’s icon.
Remember that the connection between the two networks depends on the computer with the bridge being powered on. You can remove the bridge later by right-clicking the network bridge and clicking Delete.