XP Home: Set up an ISP account

Inevitably, the one task most users will have to perform is setting up their own Internet account details. In Windows XP, this not as tricky as it might seem and can be accomplished within minutes, as long as you have all the details your ISP requires, such as the dial-up number and server names required to connect to them.

Punching in the details

You can create your dial-up Internet account through the Control Panel. Using the Classic view, double-click the Network Connections applet and from the File menu select New Connection. This will bring up the New Connection Wizard. From here, click the Next button, select Connect to the Internet and click Next again. From the next screen, the option you need to choose is Set up my connection manually.

On the ensuing screen select Connect using a dial-up modem and click the Next button. Type in the name of your connection and, on the following screen, enter the dial-in number. Click Next and then enter your username (which is also your e-mail login name) as well as your password.

You will notice that on this dialogue box there are some options regarding whether your connection will be the default connection for your computer, whether all users on your computer will use this connection (you can change this from the Connect to dialogue box mentioned later) and whether the firewall is enabled or not. If you're the only user of your computer system, you can leave the boxes as they are and click Next. You can choose to place a shortcut to your connection on the Desktop so that it is easily to hand, and click Finish. The Connect dialogue box will now appear.

Before you make a call, you need to check a few things. Click Properties and make sure that the dialling rules check box is clear; this ensures that each time you place a call you are not calling STD or international. If you have to enter any DNS server settings, you can do so by clicking the Networking tab, selecting Internet Protocol and clicking Properties.

The next thing you need to do is elect whether you want your Internet connection password to be saved and the account available to all users, or whether you want it to be solely for your use. Manipulate the radio buttons accordingly and clear the check box if you do not want your password saved at all.

Hook up your e-mail

The next thing on the agenda is to set up your e-mail details, which, once again, should have been provided by your ISP. Windows XP Home comes with version 6 of Outlook Express and this is the client we will be using to set up a mail account.

You should have your incoming mail server name to hand, as well as your outgoing server name, your login name and password. Your e-mail address is generally yourusername@yourISP.com.au or similar. You can find these details on your ISP's Web site.

To set up your account, select Tools-Accounts..., click the Add button and select Mail... You will need to enter your details on the following screens, the first screen asking you to enter a screen name (the name that will be seen by recipients of your e-mail in their inbox). On the next couple of screens you will be asked to enter your e-mail address and server details, respectively (pop3 is the protocol for receiving e-mail, while SMTP is used for sending). The last screen will ask for your password (you don't have to enter this if you don't want to). To check for and to send messages, click the Send/Recv button on the toolbar, and to compose new messages, click the Create Mail button.

Mail servers

Newsgroups are a great way of garnering information on pretty much any topic you can think of. Setting up a mail server, assuming your ISP provides one, is very similar to setting up your e-mail address as outlined above. Select Tools-Accounts..., click Add... and then Mail. Enter the display name that you want people to recognise you by when you post a message, and click Next. On the following screen you can enter your e-mail address, although you can get by with a fake address (which will save you from being spammed, if nothing else), and on the next screen enter your mail server details, which are usually in the form of mail.ispname.com.au.

Before viewing newsgroups, you will need to make an initial download of the groups that are available on your server. Do this by clicking on the news account you just created (which is displayed in the Folders pane) while you're connected to the Internet.

Once it has finished searching for groups, you will be able to subscribe to a newsgroup. Simply enter your subject of interest in the field provided. To subscribe to a group, double-click it and a mark will appear next to it. Click OK and select the group from the Folders pane.

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