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A wireless network is a network to which properly equipped computers can connect by a radio signal instead of physical cables. Wireless network are commonly called Wi-Fi networks and is usually the main way for laptop users to connect to the Internet when out and about with their computers. Like a regular wired network, a Wi-Fi network does not necessarily have to offer Internet access. Although Internet access is probably the most common reason why people set up Wi-Fi Networks. These days you can find wireless Internet or Wi-Fi signals just about anywhere, in homes, offices, hotels and restaurants. All you need to connect to a Wi- Fi network is a computer with Wi-Fi capabilities, whether built-in or through a Wi-Fi card you can plug into your computer.
But one thing to bear in mind is that most wireless networks are often password protected or in case of Wi-Fi networks you find in restaurants or hotels, you often have to pay to access their Wi-Fi network. So, even though you may have the hardware to connect to a wireless network, you might be limited or locked out by password protection or fees. In the case of connecting to your own wireless network, you'll know any password you've set up, and if you need to get on your office or school's Wi-Fi network you should be provided with the necessary passwords. Pretty much all-current Laptop PCs come with Wi-Fi abilities built-in, and many desktop models have Wi-Fi as well.
If you have a desktop PC though and you have the choice, you should opt to connect to your network via Ethernet rather than Wi-Fi, since a wired connection is usually more consistent and stable, generally more secure and also allows you to transfer files between other wired computers at a much faster speed than wireless connections allow. So, to connect to a nearby wireless network, first make sure you Wi-Fi card is turned on. On some laptops you may have to flip a physical switch on the body of your laptop. Check your user manual if you are not sure if you have a Wi-Fi switch. Then in Windows click the Start menu and choose Control Panels. Then under Network and Internet, click View Network Status and Tasks, and in here click Change Adapter Settings.
Here, you will see all the network adapters installed on your computer. A network adapter is simply the hardware used to connect to a network. So, in this case I have a Bluetooth Network Connection, the Local Area Connection is my Ethernet Wired Adapter, and this is my Wireless Network Adapter. I am going to click the Wireless Network Adapter once to select it, which gives me these menus at the top, and I'll click Connect To. Alternately, you can also double- click the wireless connection icon. That opens this window in the lower right-hand corner containing a list of all the nearby Wi-Fi Networks your computer has detected.
You can roll you mouse over any network to see more information about that network, such as the Signal Strength and whether it's Password Protected. Click the network you want to connect to to reveal the Connect button. Leave Connect automatically checked if you want your PC to automatically connect to this network in the future without first asking you. This is a convenient time saver, especially for networks you use all the time, like you home or office networks. Then click Connect to join the network. If the network you are trying to join is password protected, you'll be prompted to type in your password at this point. If you are worried about people looking over and learning you password, you can check hide characters and your password will show up as dots.
Now, the first time you connect to any new network, you are going to see this window asking you what sort of environment you are in, Home, Work or Public? Now, these are just general types of common locations. What it's really asking you here is what sort of security settings should be applied? Home and Work networks are pretty much identical. The only difference is that with Home selected, you can use Windows 7's home groups feature, which makes it easy to share photos, movies and music with other PCs on your network. That feature is unavailable if you choose Work network. If you choose Public, meaning you are connecting to a Wi-Fi network in a public location like a coffee shop or hotel, Windows will change some settings to make your PC invisible on the network, so other PCs including those who might be trying to access your computer will have a hard time finding it.
I'll choose Work for this example. Once, you've made your selection you are now connected to the Wi-Fi network and free to connect to other computers on your network or to surf the web. If you ever want to change your profile, for instance, I just chose Work and maybe I want to choose Home, you can go back to your network settings by going to Control Panel, and here you can click your current network and then choose one or the other options here. Now, if you follow these steps and were unable to connect or it looks like you are connected to a wireless network but you can't get online, first make sure you are close enough to the Wi-Fi signal.
I am going to right-click on my wireless network and choose Status. You can see here my signal activity shows I have five full bars here. So, ideally you want to have as close to the five full bars in the signal strength indicator as possible. Now, if you have connected to a public Wi-Fi network, say in a hotel or restaurant, you might have to pay to use the service. In most cases once you're connected to the Wi-Fi network, you just need to open your web browser and try to open a webpage. You'll then be redirected to a page in which you'll be asked to submit your credit card information or maybe your room number in some hotels, before you can proceed.
When you come across to a Wi-Fi network like that, just follow the on screen instructions. But for the most part connecting to a wireless network from your PC is a simple matter of selecting the network from the list of available networks and then clicking Connect.
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