You can use a wireless network to share Internet access, files, printers, and more. Or you can use it to surf the Web while you're sitting on your couch or in your yard. Plus, it's easier to install than you think.
There are 4 steps to creating a wireless network:
For Windows XP users, Windows XP Service Pack 2 is not required for wireless networking, but it does make things much easier. Service Pack 2 also helps protect you against hackers, worms, and other Internet intruders.
Choose your wireless equipment
The first step is to make sure that you have the equipment you need. As you're looking for products in stores or on the Internet, you might notice that you can choose equipment that supports three different wireless networking technologies: 802.11a, 802.11b, and 802.11g. We recommend 802.11g, because it offers excellent performance and is compatible with almost everything.
A wireless router
The router converts the signals coming across your Internet connection into a wireless broadcast, sort of like a cordless phone base station. Be sure to get a wireless router, and not a wireless access point.
A wireless network adapter
Network adapters wirelessly connect your computer to your wireless router. If you have a newer computer you may already have wireless capabilities built in. If this is the case, then you will not need a wireless network adapter. If you need to purchase an adapter for a desktop computer, buy a USB wireless network adapter. If you have a laptop, buy a PC card-based network adapter. Make sure that you have one adapter for every computer on your network.
Note: To make setup easy, choose a network adapter made by the same vendor that made your wireless router. For example, if you find a good price on a Linksys router, choose a Linksys network adapter to go with it. To make shopping even easier, buy a bundle, such as those available from D-Link, Netgear, Linksys, Microsoft, and Buffalo. If you have a desktop computer, make sure that you have an available USB port to plug the wireless network adapter into. If you don't have any open USB ports, buy a hub to add additional ports.
Connect your wireless router
Since you'll be temporarily disconnected from the Internet, print these instructions before you go any further.
First, locate your cable modem or DSL modem and unplug it to turn it off.
Next, connect your wireless router to your modem. Your modem should stay connected directly to the Internet. Later, after you've hooked everything up, your computer will wirelessly connect to your router, and the router will send communications through your modem to the Internet.
Next, connect your router to your modem:
Note: The instructions below apply to a Linksys wireless router. The ports on your router may be labeled differently, and the images may look different on your router. Check the documentation that came with your equipment for additional assistance.
Next, plug in and turn on your cable or DSL modem. Wait a few minutes to give it time to connect to the Internet, and then plug in and turn on your wireless router. After a minute, the Internet, WAN, or WLAN light on your wireless router should light up, indicating that it has successfully connected to your modem.
Configure your wireless router
Using the network cable that came with your wireless router, you should temporarily connect your computer to one of the open network ports on your wireless router (any port that isn't labeled Internet, WAN, or WLAN). If you need to, turn your computer on. It should automatically connect to your router.
Next, open Internet Explorer and type in the address to configure your router.
You might be prompted for a password. The address and password you use will vary depending on what type of router you have, so refer to the instructions included with your router.
As a quick reference, this table shows the default addresses, usernames, and passwords for some common router manufacturers.
Internet Explorer will show your router's configuration page. Most of the default settings should be fine, but you should configure three things:
The exact steps you follow to configure these settings will vary depending on the type of router you have. After each configuration setting, be sure to click Save Settings, Apply, or OK to save your changes.
Now, you should disconnect the network cable from your computer.
Connect your computers
If your computer does not have wireless network support built in, plug your network adapter into your USB port, and place the antenna on top of your computer (in the case of a desktop computer), or insert the network adapter into an empty PC card slot (in the case of a laptop). Windows XP will automatically detect the new adapter, and may prompt you to insert the CD that came with your adapter. The on-screen instructions will guide you through the configuration process.
Note: The steps below only apply if you're using Windows XP Service Pack 2. If you're running Windows XP and you don't have Service Pack 2 yet, plug your computer into your wireless router and download and install Windows XP Service Pack 2.
Windows XP should show an icon with a notification that says it has found a wireless network.
Follow these steps to connect your computer to your wireless network:
Note: If the Wireless Network Connection window continues to show Acquiring Network Address, you may have mistyped the encryption key.