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Want to connect two computers together

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I am using windows xp on my laptop and my desktop and I want to connect both of them together. I would like to be able to get files off of my laptop and save them to the hard drive of my desktop. So I dont need to be able to connect to the internet on both PCs I just want to be able to shares files on both computers mainly so i can get files off my laptop and save to my desktop. I have an ethernet cable i can directly connect to the computers but where do I go from there?
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if you're just doing random (every once in a while) file transfers it would be easier to just use a USB flash drive or external hard drive to do the file transfers.

if it's more of a regular thing, i'd suggest getting a router set up and setting up a home network to do the file sharing (or setting up a router, and getting a NAS and store the files there so they're always accessible from either computer or any other computer that connects in)
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