How to Install Wireless PC Network Hardware

All manufacturers of wireless adapter cards (for desktops) and wireless PC Cards (for laptops) include their own installation and setup programs — which also create the necessary wireless connection automatically. But here are some suggestions that can help with the installation, no matter which type of card you’re using:

  • Choose between ad hoc and infrastructure mode (as shown in this figure). In most cases, you want to choose infrastructure mode (where your laptop and PC workstations connect by using a base station or wireless access point) rather than ad hoc (where the devices talk directly to each other on a specific channel number that you determine).

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  • Check your WEP encryption. When prompted for WEP information (like in this figure), use the highest level that the card supports. WEP is designed to automatically fall back to the encryption level used by your base station or WAP.

  • Assign your own passwords! Base stations, wireless routers, and WAPs use an administrator name and password to identify you, and often this information even allows remote control. Therefore, you should always assign your own administrator name and password while configuring your wireless network!

  • Check your SSID. You need an SSID (service set identifier) that matches the SSID used by your base station or WAP.

    For the best level of security, don’t use the default SSID!

  • Keep your drivers current. Check for the latest drivers from the manufacturer’s Web site every time you install new hardware.

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