Dwight Watt - Newspaper Article #15 7/8/2009

Question: What equipment do I need to use my computer wireless at home?

To hook your computer up wireless to the Internet at home basically you only need two items in addition to the equipment that comes with your Internet connection.

You will need a wireless network interface card (NIC) for your computer and you will need a wireless router/switch. If your computer is a laptop odds are that a wireless NIC is built-in the laptop and so not needed to be bought separately. Your Internet connect box (usually called a modem but actually a router if using broadband (DSL or cable)) may have wireless built in it. However most people do not get the wireless modem as it costs more and will need the wireless router/switch (which includes ability to plug a computer (usually up to 4) by wire into it.

You will install the NIC in your computer and it will probably have an installation program. There are a number of settings you can set, and security is up often used. I will cover wireless security in next article. You can usually for basic operation go with the defaults. Installing the NIC will require opening the computer case. Opening a slot on back of PC and installing the card. Do this with the computer turned off. If you are scared to do this ask any friends you have that are computer knowledgeable to do it or hire a professional.

The wireless router will be attached to your Internet modem. There will be a cable included to do this called a straight-thru or Ethernet cable. It will plug in the slot on the modem where PC would plug in and the cable plugs in on the router/switch in the separate slot usually labeled WAN or Internet. At this point you will probably be able to work wireless but anyone else in range of your router/modem can also use it.

You may want to set the SSID (name) of the router/switch so you can tell which is yours instead of the default name which is usually the manufacture name. You could also set security. To do those settings you will need to attach your computer to the router/switch by wire and open your browser and go to the number address included in the router/switch documentation. Once finished with settings you can unplug the compute and go back wireless.

You will want to make sure both the router/switch work at same speed (B,G or N) and it is usually easier if both are same brand. You can buy both parts at an electronics store, office supply store or Walmart/Target/K-Mart type store.

Send me your questions about computers to me at the paper or to my e-mail dwight@dwightwatt.com and tell me you read this in the paper. I will pick a question to answer each week.

(c) 2010 by Dwight Watt
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