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Creating a Wi-Fi Connection

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What You Need to Connect to a Wireless Network
Wireless networks are available

Wireless networks are available - let's connect

Screengrab by Melanie Pinola

The first thing most people want to do when they get a new computer or work someplace new (e.g., traveling with your laptop or visiting a friend's house) is get on the wireless network for internet access or to share files with other devices on the network. Connecting to a wireless network or a Wi-Fi hotspot is pretty straightforward, though there are slight differences between the various operating systems. This tutorial will help you set up your Windows or Mac computer to connect to a wireless router or access point. The screenshots are from a laptop running Windows Vista, but the instructions in this tutorial include information for other operating systems as well.

Before you get started, you'll need:

  • A wireless network adapter for your computer. This is built-in on every modern laptop, but if you don't have one built in or you want to upgrade your laptop to faster Wi-Fi, 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 turned on (Windows and Mac both have ones built-in and on by default), as well as the latest antivirus updates and operating system patches. This is especially if the network you're connecting to is a public one. (Open wireless networks or ones that just use WEP password encryption 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 also need to find out that information to get connected.

The next step is to see what wireless networks are available.

Related Video
How to Set Up a Wireless Network
Set Up a Network Router

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