Connecting to a wireless network or a wi-fi hotspot is pretty straightforward, though there are differences between different operating systems. This tutorial will help you set up your laptop on Windows XP, Vista/7, or a Mac so you can connect to a wireless network for Internet access or to share files over the network. (The screenshots are from a laptop running Vista, but the instructions have info for the other OSes as well.)
Before you get started, you'll need:
- A wireless network adapter for your laptop (or built-in wireless on a different portable device). If you don't have one built in, you can purchase a USB wireless adapter or a PC card that you just plug in to install.
- You should also make sure you have a firewall installed and the latest antivirus updates and operating system patches, especially if the network you're connecting to is a public one. (Open wireless networks or ones that just use WEP are really not safe).
- If the network is secured with a password or the administrators have hidden the network name (SSID) from being broadcast, you'll need to find out that information as well to get connected.