How to Build a Local Area Network Without a Router

Karl L. Gechlik 14-04-2010

How to Build a Local Area Network Without a Router routerHeadSo you have a small home office or a few computers at home. Want to build a local area network to allow them to connect to each other? Occasionally, there are reasons for building a network without a router. Sometimes, to save money and other times for security.


Depending on what you want to do, there are a few options to build a local area network which doesn’t involve buying a router.

The most common functionality for a network without a router is to be self-contained and have no point in or out. This is a secure network as it has no connection to the Internet and is good for keeping two or three computers linked up for sharing financial documents or a QuickBooks database.

We can connect two computers directly with a cross-over cable How To Make Your Own Ethernet Cables Read More and have a LAN without a router. Computer 1 can access computer 2’s resources, printers and file shares. Computer 2 can access computer 1’s resources as well but this setup limits you to having only two computers connected.

If this is all you need, then you can connect the two machines up together and be good to go.

You can see an example of this setup below:


build local area network

To build a local area network with this setup, you will need to set both of them to have an IP address in the same subnet. A subnet is a group of machines that can call out to each other. For example, you can set one of your computer’s IP address to be and the next one as or you could set one to be and the other to be

Make sure you use the subnet mask By using this subnet mask, we can use any address between through

You can see the example shots below for a visualization of how the TCP/IP settings should be set up.


build local area network

The second computer should be set up like this:

build local area network without router

By keeping both machines in the same subnet, they can ‘talk’ to each other. In the example above, you can use through if you keep the subnet mask the same at


Once this is set up, you can share resources on both machines and be able to access them by launching the Run window and entering the other computer’s IP address in this format \\, like so:

setting up a local area network

Now if you get a window that looks like this instead of the window above, you will need to setup your folder’s security. You can do this by right-clicking on the folder you’re trying to share/access and choosing Sharing and security. From here, you can give the appropriate permissions.

setting up a local area network


If you are using default accounts like Administrator on both machines, make sure both accounts have the same password. You can set the password by hitting Control + Alt + Delete and clicking on Change password. You can change it on that form. Then go ahead and try to connect again and this time, it should connect.

If you are using different user accounts, like ‘Karl’ on one and ‘Sophia’ on the other you will need to setup a ‘Karl’ and a ‘Sophia’ account on both machines with the same passwords. This usually does the trick.

Now if we want to print to a printer connected to the remote machine instead of connecting to a shared file, type in the IP address for the remote computer in the Run window and this time, choose Printers and Faxes like so:

setting up a local area network

Then by double-clicking on that folder you can double-click on any of the printers. That will open a printer window like below:

setup local area network

Your computer will add the printer and you will be able to use it from any application on your (local) machine.

We can also set up a wireless network without a router using something called ad hoc mode. To set this up, you will need to have a wireless card or adapter on each of your machines. You can connect up to 9 machines using this method.

Start by opening your Control Panel. Choose Network and internet connections. Next, click on Network connections and right-click on your wireless network adapter. It should be called Wireless network connection.

Choose View available wireless networks. On this screen, hit the Advanced button as you see in the screen shot below:

setup local area network

Next, click on the wireless network tab at the top of the window and then on add like shown below:

setup local area network

After hitting Add you will see this screen:

How to Build a Local Area Network Without a Router noroute3

Make sure you tick the check box at the bottom of the screen to make the connection an ad hoc network. Then click OK. You will need to set up the IP addresses to be in the same subnet. You can refer to images in the beginning of the article on how to do that. Next, just connect to the ad hoc network from a client computer and you will be on the same network. You can then perform the same actions like we did above including Printer and file sharing.

I have done a MakeUseOf article in the past on how to setup a LAN with just a Windows Mobile Device here How to Set Up a Wireless Home Network With a Mobile Phone Need Wi-Fi but don't have internet in your home? Here's how to set up wireless internet without a computer using your smartphone! Read More . Do you have another means of setting up a router-less network? We would love to hear about it in the comments!

Related topics: Computer Networks, Ethernet, Router.

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  1. bogerer godfrey
    January 24, 2017 at 8:36 am


  2. arick
    July 25, 2016 at 10:12 am

    i have a 4port lan card on my server, and have 4 client directly connected to the server, 1router connected to the on board lan port on my server, is this setup possible?

  3. Vince
    May 17, 2015 at 8:45 am

    Hi. Thanks for the article. I have a scenario that will need to build such a network. If I want to connect 4 computers, 1 acting as a main server computer connected to a printer and also connect to the other 3 computers via LAN cables and hub, do I need a router? I don't need access to the Internet.

    I'm a photographer setting up a few photo booths in an event but only printing from one computer, and the booths are at some distance away, at least a few meters or more. LAN cables are probably the most stable and reliable way to transfer the photos from laptops located at each of these photo booths to the main printer computer.

    I would be really appreciative if you can guide me as to how I can do this with the above set up you mentioned and what I need.

    Thanks in advance. If you can't or too busy, no worries :)

  4. cjc
    April 14, 2010 at 9:22 am

    You mean, a switch? Since what you're describing is a switch, not a router. Yeah, consumer routers have switches glued on their LAN side, but that part is not the essence of what a router is.

    • Karl Gechlik
      April 14, 2010 at 10:56 am

      No I do not mean a switch.

      I mean a router as an entry/exit point of your network. A hub or a switch is an extension of a network and a router is a gateway to another network. Without a router (or a modem with a built in router) you are limited to your local area network.