Setting Up Windows Computers to Connect to a Network - dummies

Setting Up Windows Computers to Connect to a Network

By Andy Rathbone

First, a word to the wired crowd: If you’ve chosen to connect a computer running Windows 10 to your router with a cable, plug one end of the cable into your computer’s network port. Plug the cable’s other end into one of your router’s network ports. (The ports are usually numbered; any number will do.)

To connect other computers to the same router, connect cables between those computers’ network ports and the router’s other empty network ports.

If your Internet company didn’t do it for you, plug a cable from your broadband modem’s LAN or Ethernet port into your router’s WAN port. (If your router and modem live together in one box, you can skip this step.)

Turn on your router, and you’ve finished: You’ve discovered how easy it is to create a wired network. (Be sure to set up a Homegroup, so your computers can begin sharing their files.)

Wireless is a different story. After you set up your router to broadcast your network wirelessly, you must tell Windows how to receive it. Here’s an abbreviated version for connecting to your own network:

  1. Click the Start button and choose the Settings icon from the Start menu.
  2. When the Settings screen appears, click the Network & Internet icon, then click the Show Available Networks link.

    windows-10-network

    The Network & Internet page lists whether you’re connected to the Internet, and offers a Troubleshoot button for fixing common connection problems.

    Click the Show Available Networks link, and Windows quickly sniffs the airwaves for nearby wireless networks. The taskbar’s Wireless Networking icon quickly pops up with a list of all the wireless networks within range of your computer, including, with any luck, your own. (Your network will be the name — the SSID — that you chose when setting up your router.)

    windows-10-wireless-network
    Windows places the strongest available network at the list’s top.
  3. Choose the desired wireless network by clicking its name and then clicking the Connect button.
    The closest wireless network is usually the strongest, so you’ll probably spot your own wireless network at the top of the list.

    If you select the adjacent Connect Automatically check box before clicking the Connect button, Windows automatically connects to that network the next time you’re within range, sparing you from following all these steps again.

  4. Enter a password and click Next.
    Here’s where you type in the same password you entered into your router when setting up your wireless network. (To confuse things, Windows 10 refers to your password as a “Network Security Key.”)

If your router has a little button labelled WPS (Wi‐Fi Protected Setup), you can press it at this point. The router then slips the password to your PC through the airwaves, sparing you from having to type it in.

If your router has a little button labelled WPS (Wi‐Fi Protected Setup), you can press it at this point. The router then slips the password to your PC through the airwaves, sparing you from having to type it in.

At this point, Windows 10 treats your newly joined wireless network as a public network, the same as one you’d find in a coffee shop or airport. You won’t be able to find or access your other networked computers until you create a Homegroup.

If Windows asks to make your computer discoverable, choose Yes: You’re in your own home, and you want your other computers to be able to swap files. But if you’re connecting to somebody else’s network — a public network, for example, click No. You only want your PC to be discoverable when on your own network.

If you’re still having problems connecting, try the following tips:

  • Head back to Step 2 and click the Troubleshoot button. Windows 10 performs some basic diagnostics, and resets your networking equipment. If the troubleshooter can’t fix the problem, it offers clues as to the connection-robbing culprit.
  • Cordless phones and microwave ovens interfere with wireless networks, oddly enough. Try to keep your cordless phone out of the same room as your wireless computer, and don’t heat up that sandwich when web browsing.

windows-10-wireless-icon

  • From the Windows desktop, the taskbar’s wireless network icon (shown) providesa one-click way to see available wirelessly networks. If your desktop’s taskbar contains a wireless network icon, click it and jump to Step 3 above.