Today’s computers are usually built with a Wireless Network Adapter (WNA) that gives the device the capability to connect to a network wirelessly. However, for a computer that is being built from scratch, a WNA is usually purchased separately and installed into the computer manually.

For a computer that has been bought off the shelf, the following steps would determine if a WNA has already been installed into the system:

1) Click Start > “Control Panel” > “Network and Internet Connections.”

2) Click on “Network Connections” under the Control Panel icon.

3) In Windows XP, all the network adapters are listed on the Network Connections window of which the Wireless Network adapters are labelled as “Wireless Network Connection.”

Under “Wireless Network Connection,” If an installed adapter shows a red X, then it is not connected. If the Network Connections window is blank, then the purchased computer does not have a WNA installed.

Without such a device, the user would not be able to set up or connect to a network such as the internet wirelessly. This would mean that WNA would need to be installed manually

In the case of a device such as a laptop, turning on the wireless switch on the side, back, or front can be the solution to enabling Wi-fi connection if a wireless network adapter is built in.

There are three ways a WNA can be installed into the computer. These are through the USB port; through a Card bus; and internally through a slot located on the mother- board in the computer. Two of these methods, namely the USB port and Card bus, can only be applied to a portable device such as a laptop; while the motherboard slot method and USB port are mostly associated with the desktop computer. The following describes the steps to take for all three methods.

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Installing a Wireless Network Adapter through a USB port

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Installing a WNA through a USB port is simple and fast. Here are the steps:

1) Purchase a Wireless Network Adapter

2) Insert the CD that came with the hardware into the CD drive of the computer to begin the installation of the software to run the device.

3) Follow the instructions.

4) When prompt plug the WNA into a free USB port of the computer for the final step.

5) After some seconds, a notification will appear on the bottom right hand corner of Windows indicating that a new hardware has been installed successfully.

If however, the Wireless Network Adapter did not come with a CD, then do the following:

1) Connect the USB WNA into a free port of the computer.

2) After some time, Windows will automatically detect the adapter and attempt to download the software itself.

3) After the installation is complete, a notification will appear on the bottom right hand corner of Windows indicating that a new hardware has been installed successfully.

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Troubleshooting the USB Wireless Network Adapter

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To ensure that the WNA is detected and connected to the computer, make sure that the LED light of the device is active and blinking. If not, then the device may not be connected to the computer. To be certain that the adapter was installed in the computer, do the following:

1) Right-click My Computer and select Properties.

2) Click the Hardware tab then Device Manager.

3) Click the + sign beside Network adapters to expand.

The name of the WNA should be seen in Network Adapters section. If not, then the device was not inserted probably into the USB port or the device was not installed at all in the computer.

This could also be a problem of the computer not having the right driver to recognize and operate the WNA. The following should be done.

1) Uninstall the adapter’s driver by going to “Start” > “Control Panel” > “Add or remove Programs” and select the previous driver to uninstall.

Other ways to uninstall include going to the Device Manager or going to “Start” > “All Programs” > and selecting the previous downloaded driver to uninstall.

2) Reinstall the driver of the Wireless Network adapter. This can be done by either going to the device manufacturer website to download the specific driver; or download all the necessary drivers from a software tool called DriverTuner.

DriverTuner has the ability to download all up to date and old drivers and fix any driver issues with a few clicks of the mouse. A powerful and highly recommended tool for any driver related issue of the computer.

After reinstalling the Wireless Network adapter driver from DriverTuner, restart the computer and go back to Device manager to see if the driver can be seen there.

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Installing a Wireless Network Adapter through a Card bus

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A Card bus is a slot on the side of most portable devices such as the laptop. Like a USB port adapter, a network card fits perfectly into the slot, making this installation method simple, convenient, and fast. To install a network card into a Card bus, the following steps are undertaken:

1) Purchase a Wireless Card Bus Adapter.

2) Insert the CD that came with the hardware into the CD drive of the computer to begin the installation of the software to run the device.

3) Follow the instructions.

4) When prompt, insert the Network Adapter into the card slot of the computer for the final step.

5) After some seconds, a notification will appear on the bottom right hand corner of Windows indicating that a new hardware has been installed successfully.

If however, the Wireless Card bus did not come with a CD, then just follow the same steps as the USB port Adapter without a CD. This means just inserting your Network Card into the computer slot and allowing Windows to do rest.

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Troubleshooting Card Bus Wireless Network Adapter

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To be certain that the adapter was installed in the computer, do the following:

1) Right-click My Computer and select Properties.

2) Click the Hardware tab then Device Manager.

3) Click the + sign beside Network adapters to expand.

The name of the Card bus Adapter should be seen in Network Adapters section. If not, then do the following:

1) Uninstall the adapter’s driver by going to “Start” > “Control Panel” > “Add or remove Programs” and select the previous driver to uninstall.

Other ways to uninstall include going to the Device Manager or going to “Start” > “All Programs” > and selecting the previous downloaded driver to uninstall.

2) Reinstall the Network adapter driver by using the DriverTuner tool.

3) Restart the computer and go back to “Device Manager” to see the new driver installed.

4) Setup wireless network.

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Installing an Internal Wireless Network Adapter through a slot on the motherboard

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Installing a WNA internally is usually associated with desktop computers which involves opening the case of the desktop and inserting a purchased network adapter on the available slot on the mother board.

This method is more difficult and time consuming than the other two methods of installing a network adapter. It can be done by an experienced user or by a hired technician. Below are the steps to follow to install a Network Adapter.

1) Purchase an internal WNA.

2) If computer is on, turn it off, unplug it from the socket, and unplug the power cable from the back.

3) Lay computer on a desk and open it up with a screw driver. Start of with the screws at the back of the computer.

4) Once screws have been taken off, slide the side cover of the computer off to reveal the insides of the machine.

5) Remove the antenna from the wireless network adapter.

6) Remove the small metal panel covering the opening of the slot at the back of the computer.

7) Line up the network adapter with opening of the slot at the back of the computer and carefully insert the network adapter into the available open slot on the motherboard. Make sure that the adapter is firmly resting in that slot.

8) Use the screw that was used to hold the metal panel to now hold the network card in place.

9) Attach the antenna back to the network adapter.

10) Slide back the side cover of the computer and screw it to tightly close the case.

11) Plug the power cable back to computer and plug the computer back to the socket.

12) Turn on the system.

Windows will automatically detect the new hardware and install the software for it. After some time, a notification will appear on the bottom right hand side to indicate that the hardware was installed successfully.

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