How Can a Desktop Computer Have a WiFi Connection?

Written by benny taylor
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How Can a Desktop Computer Have a WiFi Connection?
Wireless capabilities can be added to desktop PCs without an integrated card. (Jeffrey Hamilton/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

A desktop computer can be enabled for wireless networking if you install a wireless adaptor. Adaptors are available as internal cards, usually with an aerial that protrudes from the back of the PC, and USB devices that can be plugged into any available USB port. Some desktop computers are supplied with wireless hardware already integrated or pre-installed.

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Background

Wi-Fi capability on a desktop computer allows you to connect to a home or office wireless network without any network cables. Your desktop PC just needs to be in range of a compatible router or wireless access point to connect. If the network is encrypted you will need to know the encryption password.

Considerations

If your desktop PC doesn't have integrated wireless you will need to choose between an internal or external adaptor. Internal adaptors have the benefit of being permanently installed, which could be significant in an office environment where smaller external USB devices could be lost or stolen. USB devices are easier to install as they do not require you to open up your PC, potentially invalidating the warranty.

Compatibility

When choosing wireless networking hardware, ensure you check the technical specifications to guarantee compatibility. Check the adaptor you choose supports the encryption method used by the network(s) you plan to connect to. If you plan to connect to a network using the fast 802.11n protocol, ensure your adaptor supports this, as well as the more commonly used, but slower, 802.11b and 802.11g technologies.

Manufacturers

For best results, try to use wireless networking hardware from the same manufacturer. If, for example, you already have a wireless router in place, try to source a wireless adaptor of the same brand. Compatibility is assured and it is likely the components have been tested together. Microsoft recommends this strategy.

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