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Even the slowest DOS machines dating back to the early 1980s can do the following once networked: Almost every old machine can use floppy disks or the serial port for data transfer and for a machine that is rarely used that is all you need.But if you enable networking you get the following advantages: Using a home network cuts down on your time "doing the floppy shuffle" and saves wear and tear on your system. Being realistic, you are not going to want to use DOS to surf the web.
A notable exception was Lap Link by Traveling Software.
But for basic file transfer and running some useful utilities like SNTP (Simple Network Time Protocol) it can not be beat.
Examples include: Parallel ports were not used for communications as much as serial ports were.
Often there was just one parallel port compared with two serial ports on a computer, and the parallel port was often connected to a printer.
Back then people did not have home networks and networking equipment was much more expensive.
If people had any sort of connectivity it might have been to use a bulletin board system (BBS) through a dial-up modem or to talk to a Novell Netware server running on their local network."Sneakernet", or the art of carrying software around on floppy disks, was the standard method of moving data around.Networking started to become more popular as businesses obtained multiple computers and they needed a way to communicate.Those enhancements were made to improve the speeds of connected devices, but they would help data transfer of any type.Network adapters are quite a bit more complex than serial and parallel ports and usually a network adapter is used with a set of protocols.The good news is that networking adapters and equipment is as inexpensive as it will ever get, and most machines running DOS can easily make use of used equipment that people are just throwing away.