How wi-fi works with a desktop pc

Written by mike munson
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How wi-fi works with a desktop pc
Wi-Fi allows your PC to connect to the internet without attached cables. (Wireless image by Haris Rauf from Fotolia.com)

Although wireless networking (Wi-Fi) is primarily used with mobile devices such as laptop computers and smartphones, a desktop PC can work with Wi-Fi as well. Not only can a stationary PC utilise Wi-Fi to connect to a wireless network, but in most cases a desktop PC is fundamental in the proper set-up and configuration of a Wi-Fi network.

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Desktop PC Networking Before Wireless

Before Wi-Fi was introduced, a desktop PC only had one option for connecting to a network of PCs or other network devices, namely a physical connection to a network router or hub in the form of an Ethernet Cat 5 cable. Due to this limitation, anyone that wanted to connect a desktop PC to a network had to run a Cat 5 networking cable to the PC, install an Ethernet jack or physically move the computer to a location where the network could be connected to.

Networking Desktop PCs with Wi-Fi

With the introduction of Wi-Fi, a PC user could replace the machine's standard network interface card with a wireless NIC. The wireless NIC card has an antenna that allows the desktop PC to detect a Wi-Fi network and connect with proper security credentials. Due to this, a desktop PC with a wireless NIC can be moved anywhere in the home or office where a strong enough signal can be located. By installing a wireless NIC, a desktop PC can work seamlessly with a Wi-Fi network. Modern-day PCs overwhelmingly come with wireless technology built into the computer.

Wi-Fi Administration

A desktop PC can play a major role in the actual set-up of a Wi-Fi network. For a Wi-Fi network to be secured and optimised properly, a PC should be connected to the Wi-Fi router either wirelessly via entering the router's IP address into a Web browser or by connecting to the router via an Ethernet cable. To share an internet connection or even to simply connect multiple computers, a network device such as a router or hub must be installed and then configured, preferably with a password to prevent outsiders from stealing bandwidth or snooping on your Wi-Fi traffic. A desktop PC can also act as a reliable troubleshooting device in the event of Wi-Fi errors or problems by directly connecting to the Wi-Fi router, which ensures access to the router’s administration options in the event that all wireless broadcasting capabilities of the router have failed.

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