I need to move a large file from one laptop to another. Can I just join the two machines with an ethernet cable and create a shared folder on my desktop or is it more complicated than that?


Windows versions - one laptop has XP the other is Vista
File Size - approx 10G

  • 1
    How large of a file? – Josh K Feb 4 '10 at 18:59
  • 1
    See also: superuser.com/questions/6557/… – sblair Feb 4 '10 at 19:07
  • 1
    @Josh K, larger than any pen drive I have on hand. I think it's about 10 gigs. – devuxer Feb 4 '10 at 19:15
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    What version of windows? – RJFalconer Feb 4 '10 at 19:26

Yes, you can join both PCs with a network cable and copy the file.

To do this you must set up the network, and your file shares.

  • Plug each end of the crossover cable into a network port on the back of each computer.

  • Open Network and Sharing Center (Start, Control Panel, clicking Network and Internet, Network and Sharing Center)

In the network map at the top of Network and Sharing Center, double-click the Unidentified network‍ icon.

  • In Network, click the Information bar containing the following message:

Network discovery and file sharing are turned off.
Network computers and devices are not visible. Click to change...

and then click Turn on network discovery and file sharing.

Do this on both computers. With any luck, this is all the network set up you will need to do.

On the PC with the file, do Properties/Sharing/Share as you mentioned in a comment.

As r0ca says, the PC that wants the file can then connect with

  • (Specifics of the instructions apply to Windows Vista. I will change it if you need instructions on a different version of windows) – RJFalconer Feb 4 '10 at 19:36

Modern ethernet cards will do the crossover for you, so there's no need for a "special cable". Just connect to the two machines, set an IP for them and transfer files.

  • 1
    How do you set an IP? – devuxer Feb 4 '10 at 19:17
  • The easiest way is to set it from TCP/IP properties. For example, on machine #1 - Set the IP as, Netmask You can leave the gateway blank, it doesn't matter. Machine #2, set the IP as, Netmask Then go to Start > Run, // and you should be able to see the shared folders on Machine #2 and similarly from Machine #1, Try // – somebody Feb 13 '10 at 12:53

I'd rather use a portable media device like a USB HDD or USB key. You can also create a network share and then, transfer your files. It's quite easy.

Start - run: \\IP-or-computername\"Shared"

And then, paste your files.

  • 1
    What's the difference between that command line and doing Properties/Sharing/Share this folder? – devuxer Feb 4 '10 at 19:16
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    That command connects to an existing share. It does not actually create one, as your GUI approach does. – RJFalconer Feb 4 '10 at 19:24

When copying large files do NOT use windows explorer. Start a command prompt and use the copy/xcopy command.

  • 1
    Why? Is it faster that way? More reliable? – devuxer Feb 4 '10 at 19:14
  • Yes to both. That stupid little flying document causes all kinds of trouble. – Satanicpuppy Feb 4 '10 at 19:34
  • I do weekly backups of 60Gb+ using copy and paste in Windows Explorer. This is from a remote system, over network, to a USB 2.0 external HD. Never had a problem yet. – Skaughty Feb 4 '10 at 19:44
  • Some people are still nervous about using the Windows Explorer to copy files, because we've been burned in the past with old versions of Windows and with unreliable networks. – Warren P Feb 18 '11 at 14:55

You'd need a special kind of ethernet cable called a "crossover" cable. Far easier to borrow a hub, or use a USB stick to transfer :)

  • 5
    You don't necessarily need a crossover cable; many Ethernet cards and switches will auto-crossover, so either type of cable should work. – sblair Feb 4 '10 at 19:11
  • @sblair - while it is true that some ethernet adapters and switches do support 'auto-crossover', a downvote based on the purely speculative assumption that the OP's network controllers do belong indeed into this category is ridiculous! remember: assumption is the mother of all Eff Ups. – Molly7244 Feb 4 '10 at 20:00
  • @Molly I didn't down-vote this answer - why do you assume I did...? And my comment states that many devices support this, implying of course that some do not. – sblair Feb 4 '10 at 20:12
  • @sblair - my apologies ... had to be just another drive-by downvote. :) – Molly7244 Feb 4 '10 at 20:21

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