Installing a Wireless Computer Network

Intro

A network usually consists of at least two computers. To be wireless, the computers should exchange information and connect to the Internet without any extra wires coming out of the computer. But even if your network consists of a single computer, being wireless has its advantages. If you're working on a desktop computer, you cut down on the clutter of wires coming and going out of your computer. If you have a laptop, you can work away from your desk and still send e-mail and connect to the Web.

You won't need much to do it. You need a wireless router, and each computer needs a wireless card so it can communicate with the router. Most new computers come with wireless cards installed, and adding one into an older computer isn't complicated. The router itself is available online, at computer stores, and in some cases from your Internet service provider.

Checklist

Time
About 30 to 45 minutes to install and set up a system

Tools
Screwdriver if installing card

Skills
Plugging and unplugging USB cables

Prep
Clear your desk.

Materials
Router, wireless card for each computer that doesn't already have one

Step 1

Turn off your computer and disconnect all cables running into and out of the computer and modem. Although you have to make only minor wiring changes, it's best to start from scratch so you can keep track of how things stand.

Step 2

Run a cable from the modem to the router. The router enables devices on the network to "talk" with each other and to go online, so the router is the modem cable's first and only stop.

Step 3

Plug in the router and turn it on. It diagnoses your system and sets itself up largely without requiring added information. Follow the on-screen "wizard" to set up security, choose a password, and name the system. Unless your printer has wireless capability, plug the printer cable into the router.

Step 4

If your computer doesn't have wireless capability, install a wireless PCI card. On a notebook, the card fits into a slot on the side. On a desktop unplug the computer and remove the cover by loosening the screws that hold it on.

Step 5

To install a wireless card, touch the chassis to discharge static electricity that could ruin the card. In the computer, remove the screw that holds the cover over one of the empty PCI slots. Push the card into the slot and screw it into place.

Step 6

If the wireless card slot has an antenna, attach it to the card. Replace the computer cover.


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