How to Set Up a Computer to Receive WiFi

by M. Wade

WiFi refers to a group of wireless networks that allows laptop users to access the Internet throughout a building or area. These "WiFi hotspots" are sometimes offered by coffeehouses, bookstores, schools and other establishments for free, while telecommunication companies offer subscription services and special hardware for accessing WiFi anywhere. To use WiFi, you must have a wireless adapter, which is an internal or external hardware device that enables your computer to access high-speed wireless networks within range. To use your wireless adapter to receive WiFi, you must to install the adapter and configure it to log on to wireless networks.


Insert the wireless adapter into the CardBus slot. If you have purchased an external wireless adapter, you must first install it. Insert the wireless adapter, face up, into one of your laptop's CardBus slots (a thin slot found on the side of the laptop). Make sure that the adapter is securely inserted. Wait for the "Found New Hardware Wizard" screen to appear, then click the "Install the software automatically" radio button and click "Next." After installation, you may be prompted to restart your laptop.


Type in the SSID and encryption settings of the WiFi hotspot. To log on to a WiFi hotspot for which you already know the SSID (network name), open your laptop's Wireless Networking application to input the SSID. If the wireless network is a secured network (password/passcode is required), select the type of security setting the network uses (WEP, WPA or WPA-PSK) and type in the password/passcode. You can obtain these encryption settings from the WiFi provider.


Scan for a WiFi hotspot. If, instead, you want to see all available WiFi networks in range of your wireless adapter, select the "scan for available wireless networks" option. If the network is password-protected, you must know and enter its password to connect to it. Contact the WiFi provider for the password/passcode. Click "Apply" or "Connect" to connect to the wireless network.


Test your wireless connection. Test that you can access the Internet by opening a browser and entering a website address. If the website loads, you are connected to the wireless network. If the browser displays an error message, disconnect from the network and reconnect or scan for another wireless network. Your operating system will indicate via a system tray icon the strength of the wireless signal and your connection speed.


Save your network settings. Your Wireless Network tool allows you to set priorities for certain networks you have accessed. To do this, click the name of the wireless connection and open the "Properties" or "Settings" menu. Select "Automatic" or "Preferred."


  • check Avoid sending confidential information, such as banking information, using unsecured and public WAPs, as this data is especially susceptible to interception by hackers.


  • close You should not use your wireless adapter to log on to another person's unsecured wireless network without his knowledge and permission.

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About the Author

M. Wade is a licensed attorney and writer. She is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and University of Louisville and has been published in the University of Louisville Law Review, The Brand, and Blackline. She has been a writer for Demand Studios since August 2008.

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Photo Credits

  • photo_camera M. Connors