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Is there some way to connect two computers using USB?

In 2011, is there a way to directly connect two half-way recent computers running Windows without Ethernet? The Ethernet adapter is broken on one of the machines I need to connect.

It would ideally

  • Be fast
  • Not require proprietary software
  • Allow transfer of files and folders
  • Use existing hardware and not require buying any new gadgets (Buying/installing software would be ok, though)

The only medium I can think of is USB. Is this somehow possible using a USB cable?

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marked as duplicate by MaQleod, Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007, 8088, slhck, Dave M Sep 1 '11 at 12:36

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Why is the network connection out of the equation? –  Dave M Aug 31 '11 at 20:04
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@Dave M in my specific case, the network adapter in the laptop is broken –  Pekka 웃 Aug 31 '11 at 20:05
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@Pekka: You should update the question then, as "no network connection" primarily means "no router/switch/hub/etc", not "no Ethernet" -- at least for me. –  grawity Aug 31 '11 at 20:07
    
@grawity I'm sorry, I should have been more specific. Updated. Still, I think your answer would be worth having here for future generations. Might it be an idea to bring it back? –  Pekka 웃 Aug 31 '11 at 20:08
    
Laplink whoooa I remember laplink –  leeand00 Aug 31 '11 at 20:14

4 Answers 4

Yes, a host-to-host USB cable can be used for this. This kind of technology is fairly obsolete today, though, because of how easy it is to move files over the network.

Here's such a host-to-host cable: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16812156037

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Honestly, a replacement Ethernet adapter is far cheaper than any usb host-to-host adapter I've ever seen. But you also said that both "buying a gadget" and "requiring a bit of proprietary software" were something to be avoided. Even USB Ethernet adapters are cheap. The best part is... it's 100% non-proprietary... and very well documented on how to make it work.

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Yeah, it is absolutely looking like buying a replacement adapter is the cheapest way to go. –  Pekka 웃 Aug 31 '11 at 20:30
    
I disagree in-part. USB1.1 is limited to a maximum of 12mbt. After you take into account the "usb overhead" you might get lucky & sustain 10mbt at most... but this will also force any other devices attached to the same "hub" to 1.1 speeds... even if they're capable of going faster. But if you have no plans on ever using that adapter again... sure... saving $1-2 might be worth it to you. –  TheCompWiz Aug 31 '11 at 20:43
    
+1: for the cost, there aren't any easier solutions. –  surfasb Aug 31 '11 at 23:43

Ethernet. Buy a generic Ethernet cable (crossover might be required), plug both ends to computers, wait for autoconfiguration to finish.

  • No "network connection" required: Both computers connected directly.
  • Fast: Reasonable.
  • Does not require proprietary software: Except for Windows itself.
  • Allows transfer of files and folders: As a built-in feature.
  • Use existing hardware: Well... not entirely. But then, you have to buy a cable for any method.
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This is definitely the quickest and cheapest way if you have Ethernet available. (I had not specified that limitation in the first version of my question.) +1 –  Pekka 웃 Aug 31 '11 at 20:12
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