Windows for Workgoups provides basic functionality for file and printer sharing. This shoould not be confused with FTP, as FTP is a TCP/IP application, while Microsoft Windows file and aharing is just Micrisoft's way of giving users basic network functionality, based on either NETBIOS/NETBEUIprotocols, or IPX protocol. But it can be used as a good first introduction to networking.
For starters, you'll need two PC's. At least one will need to have MS-DOS or Windows 3x on it. The other may have DOS, Windows 3.x, or even Win95, Win98 or so. It is possible to let a Windows 3.11 (Windows for Workgroups) machine use files on a Windows 95 or 98 computer. It might even work with a Windows NT (2000, XP, ...) if it has the right protocols running.
Computers capable of running Windows 3.11 are are computers with an Intel 386 or 486 processor (or better), 4 or 8 MB RAM, and a 100 to 200MB hard drive. They can even be found at flee markets.
We'll need a fysical connection between the two machines. The fysical connection is made with a network card and a cable. The cable needs to be cross-linked, meaning that the sending connection from one machine is connected to the reciving connection at theother machine. The network card can be any network card, so 2 cheap second hand network cards will do.
The fysical medium through wchich the bits will travel from one computer to another, is the (cross-linked) cable. To put bits on the cable on one end, and take them from the cable on the other, you need a Network Interface Card (NIC), also know as a network adapter or a network card. This NIC is plugged in to an expansion slot in the computer. As with any adevice that you add to your computer, you'll need to take care of the configuration. Probably your NIC will come with some configuration sotware, to set it to the right interrupt or so. Else, you can run msd.exe to check if there are any hardware conflict after you've installed the card.
For your PC to exchange data with the NIC, you'll need to install the proper device driver. A device driver is a piece of software that makes sure that hardware devices can communicate with the operating system. A device driver is therefore specific to a device (the specific make and model of your internet adapter, or all network adapters that are made according to the same specifications) and an operating system or a family of operating systems. It translates the 'language' of your operating system (DOS or Windows 3.11) to the 'language' of the NIC. If you have a second hand card, and no drivers, you can often find a suitable driver on the web. Or there might be a suityable driver included on the Windows Installation disks.
Assuming you have a computer with MS-DOS, you first need to install Windows for Workgroups. I guess you knwo how to do that. It's just a matter of starting setup, answer a few questions, done.
To set up the network, you will be asked to do so at the end of the Windows setup. When you already have Windows set up and running, you can start the Network setup by clicking the icon Network Setup, or Windows Setup, then Change network settings. You'll get a dialog box.
You click 'Add Driver" and select the make and model of your network adapter, to install the device driver for your network card. Select "unlisted or updated driver" if you have the correct driver for your NIC on a diskette from the manufacturer, or downloaded from the internet, or wherever you got it.
You click 'Add Protocol" and select the protocol(s) you want to install. Windows Network setup will then install all executables and other system files that are needed to run the selected network protocols, i.e. the files that will enable applications to find and address other computers on the network, send and receive data, implement error correction and flow control as foreseen by the protocol chosen. Choose NetBEUI for instance.
One of the things you may want to do over the network is share files and/or printers. You enable this by checking the appropriate check boxes.
You'll have to repeat this on a second PC, or find another PC (Windows 3.x, Windows 95 etc) with network software installed on it. If both computers run the same protocol (e.g.NETBEUI) they will be able to communicate. The way to use resources on a remote computer under Windows for Workgroups is through 'Network Drive Mapping'. This means that the Windows for Workgroups machine will asign a drive letter to a shared directory on the remote machine. This is done in File Manager : Connect Network Drive. In short :