I have that problem several times. Damned if I remember how I fixed it. I do know that the right cable is critical. Not every 25 pin parallel cable will work. Walmart has the right cable for $7. It is even marked as Direct Connect. Ok, so the following is from the book, "Windows 98 Bible". Page 522-523.
1. On both PCs right click network neighborhood and choose Properties.
2. Make sure both have at least one network protocol in common. (IPX/SPX i.e)
3. On the host PC, click the File and Print sharing button in the Network dialog box. Make sure that the pc can share files.
4. On both PCs, click the Identification tab of the Network dialog box in Control Panel. Make sure each PC has a unique computer name. Make certain both PCs have the same Workgroup name and choose OK to close the dialog box.
5. On both PCs chose Start, Settings, Control Panel. Open the System icon, click the Device Manager tab, and click the (+) sign next to Ports(COM and LPT). Open the icon for the port to which the cable is connected on the PC ( COM1 or COM2 ), click the Port Settings tab, and make sure each port use the same settings (Bits per second = same, Data Bits = 8, Parity = None, Stop Bits = 1, Flow Control = Xon/Xoff). Then close the Communications Port and System Properites dialog boxes on both PCs.
6. On the host computer, use MY Computer to verify the drives (or folders) that you want to share have been shared. If a resourec you what to share is not shared, right click the resource, click "Sharing".
7. On both PCs close all open windows and choose Start, Shut Down, OK. Turn off the computer.
8. Make sure the cable is properly connected to each PC and make sure you know which port each computer is using (COM1 or COM2). Losing track of which PC is using which port is a common (and frustrating) mistake.
9. Power up both PCs.
10. Try again.