Here are answers to some common questions about wireless networks.
A network can be one computer connected to the Internet, or two or more computers connected to each other (and also to the Internet). In a wireless network, the computers are connected by radio signals instead of wires or cables. Advantages of wireless networks include mobility and no unsightly wires. Disadvantages can include a slower connection than a wired network and interference from other wireless devices, such as cordless phones.
Currently there are four options: 802.11b,
802.11a, 802.11g, and 802.11n. The tables below compare these technologies.
Up to 11 megabits per second (Mbps)
Has good signal range
Has the slowest transmission speed
Allows for fewer simultaneous users
Uses the 2.4 gigahertz (GHz) frequency (the same as many microwave ovens, cordless phones, and other appliances), which can cause interference
Up to 54 Mbps
Allows for more simultaneous users
Uses the 5 GHz frequency, which limits interference from other devices
Has a shorter signal range, which is more easily obstructed by walls and other obstacles
Is not compatible with 802.11b network adapters, routers, and access points
Has a transmission speed comparable to 802.11a under optimal conditions
Allows for more simultaneous users
Has good signal range and is not easily obstructed
Is compatible with 802.11b network adapters, routers, and access points
Uses the 2.4 GHz frequency so it has the same interference problems as 802.11b
Depending upon the number of data streams the hardware supports, 802.11n can transmit data at up to 150 Mbps, 300 Mbps, 450 Mbps, or 600 Mbps
Has the fastest speed
Uses multiple signals and antennas for better speed
Has the best signal range and isn't easily obstructed
Is resistant to interference from other devices
Can use either the 2.4 GHz or 5.0 GHz frequency
If using 2.4 GHz frequency, it's compatible with 802.11g network adapters, routers, and access points
If using the 2.4 GHz frequency, it can have the same interference problems as 802.11b
This protocol is still being finalized, and some requirements could change
If you have more than one wireless network adapter in your computer or if your adapter uses more than one standard, you can specify which adapter or standard to use for each network connection. For example, if you have a computer you use for streaming media to other computers on your network, you should set it up to use an 802.11a or 802.11n connection, if available, because you'll get a faster data transfer rate when you watch videos or listen to music.
Your computer needs an internal or external wireless network adapter. To see if your computer has a wireless network adapter, do the following:
Open Network Connections by clicking the Start button , clicking Control Panel, clicking Network and Internet, clicking Network and Sharing Center, and then clicking Manage network connections.
The adapters installed in your computer are listed.
Open Connect to a Network by clicking the Start button , and then clicking Connect to.
Public wireless networks are convenient, but if they are not properly secured, connecting to one might be risky. Whenever possible, only connect to wireless networks that require a network security key or have some other form of security, such as a certificate. The information sent over such networks is encrypted, which can help protect your computer from unauthorized access. In the list of available wireless networks, each network is labeled as either security-enabled or unsecured. If you do connect to a network that is not secure, be aware that someone with the right tools can see everything that you do, including the websites you visit, the documents you work on, and the user names and passwords you use. You should not work on documents or visit websites that contain personal information, such as your bank records, while you are connected to that network.
If you've connected to the network before, make sure your computer is in range of the network (no more than 150 feet [46 meters] indoors and 300 feet [92 meters] outdoors for 802.11b and 802.11g hardware and no more than 50 feet [15 meters] indoors and 100 feet [30 meters] outdoors for 802.11a hardware), the router or access point is turned on (if you have access to the router or access point), and the wireless switch on your computer is turned on. (Not all computers have a switch; if yours does, it's typically located on the front or side of the computer.) If you have not connected to the network, broadcasting might be turned off and you might have to manually add the network. To add a network that is not broadcasting, follow these steps:
Click Set up a connection or network.
Click Manually connect to a wireless network, and then type the network information.
The network is added to your list of networks and is available to connect to in the future when your computer is in range.
The other computers and devices on your network need to know how to communicate with the wireless router so they can send and receive information on the network. Each computer or device needs settings such as the network name and the network security key so that it can communicate with the router. When you add devices or computers to your network using the Set Up a Wireless Router or Access Point wizard, Windows provides step-by-step instructions for copying the appropriate settings to your computers.
Open Set Up a Wireless Router or Access Point by clicking the Start button , clicking Control Panel, clicking Network and Internet, and then clicking Network and Sharing Center. In the left pane, click Set up a connection or network, and then click Set up a wireless router or access point.
Yes. Even though automatic wireless network configuration is enabled by default in Windows, you can disable it by installing and using a different program. Many network adapters come with their own wireless management software. If you are using another program to manage your wireless network connections and you want to use Windows instead, follow these steps:
Turn off or disable the other program.
Open the Command Prompt window by clicking the Start button , clicking All Programs, clicking Accessories, and then clicking Command Prompt.
Type netsh wlan show settings.
If automatic wireless network configuration is disabled, you will see Auto configuration logic is disabled on interface "Interface name".
To enable auto configuration, type set autoconfig enabled=yes interface="<Interface name>".
When you set up a network, Windows determines what type of encryption your router or access point and your computer's network adapter work with, and recommends an option. To see which types of encryption the network adapter works with, check the information that came with your adapter or computer, or go to the manufacturer’s website.