Trailing spaces are key mistake

Helpline Helpline

November 20, 2003|By James Coates | James Coates,CHICAGO TRIBUNE

I networked my wife's laptop (running ME) with my desktop (running XP). Then, somewhere along the way, the network failed, so I tried to run the Network Setup Wizard again. I put in the same information as before (connection, description, name and work group) but got the error message: "Cannot complete the Network Setup Wizard. An error occurred during configuration of the network on this computer. You can configure your network manually, or you can run the Wizard again with different settings."

Your description sounds like you are the victim of a very common but difficult-to-spot error in setting the exact name for the two computers you want to network.

Unlike just about every other bit of Microsoft software, the networking routines will fail if there is a trailing space at the end of the name of any of the computers when you give them during the setup process. Everywhere else, tapping the space bar at the end of an entry is how one separates it from the next item.

If one taps the space bar at the end of a file name or a Web address, Windows operating systems have no problem identifying it. But if you tap space at the end of a computer's name, the Windows networking software will not be able to find it.

The fix is easy. Computer names are set in Windows by right-clicking on the My Computer icon, selecting Properties and then opening the Computer Name tab in the display that pops up. There you will find a command to rename. Do this, making sure not to tap the space key at the end.

Then use the manual network setup routine and again type in the name without the leading space. This time the operating system should be able to find the missing computer and establish your network.

The Chicago Tribune is a Tribune Publishing paper. James Coates can be reached at jcoates@tribune.com.

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