The data transfers over Wi-Fi are an indispensable part of our lives. Its widespread use owes mainly to its simple setup and easy to use at any location, for example, in your home, in a cafe, at home, at work, at the mall, etc.
Every laptop has a built-in wireless card which provides the access to any Wi-Fi network in range. You just need to turn on the wireless adapter on the laptop. The device will scan for the available connections and at the end of the process, it will offer a list. You only need to choose the right network and connect to it.
But, the problem is that not every laptop has a good wireless card, so often it’s unable to provide the internet speed for which you pay for, or even attach to it in some rooms because of the thick walls. Then you need something to boost your laptop’s Wi-Fi reception and the best solution for it is a USB Wi-Fi adapter. This device is small and very convenient to use, but you need to know how to configure it for the proper functioning.
First, you need to do is to install a necessary software. In other words, the installation of the drivers and the necessary tools to work with networks and hardware.
So, when it comes to the laptop, all required drivers are available on the disc that was included with the computer at the purchase. If drivers are lost, and you can’t find it, then download everything you need from the official website of the manufacturer, stating the full name of the laptop model.
As with any device, after connecting USB Wi-Fi adapter to a laptop, the first thing you need to do is to install the drivers. This is one of the most important steps, because without the properly installed drivers, usually, it’s impossible to use it. Typically, the adapter’s packaging supplied with CD which contains drivers for various operating systems. But, if you can find the drivers in a box with the purchased adapter, you should not be upset, because all the required software and drivers can be downloaded from the official website of the manufacturer, if you know exactly which model you bought. Moreover, in this case, you’ll get some benefits associated with the fact that the manufacturer may update the version of the program to optimize and speed up its work.
To install the drivers, be sure that the USB Wi-Fi adapter is attached to the USB port. After the installation is complete, the new device will appear under ”Network adapters” which you can find when you press the right click on “This PC” < “Manage” < “Device Manager”. The laptop will display its exact name and model.
Before you set up USB Wi-Fi adapter, first of all, you need to know the network settings: name, a password for access and the type of data encryption. These three parameters are the most important, and the ability to connect to a certain network depends on them. You should know the name in order to specify to which network you want to connect, as frequently happens that the adapter finds several access points simultaneously. In some cases, the network name is hidden which provides additional security for the network and then you will need to enter the name manually.
The password is also used to enhance security, but sometimes the access point is not protected with a password so the maximum number of users could connect to it. The data encryption types usually have the following labels: WEP, TKIP, WPA, WPA-PSK. Recently, the most common types that adapters use are WEP and WPA-PSK, and many of them have double protection and it looks like as follows: WEP/WPA-PSK. By selecting such an item, the user can connect to networks that have one of two types of encryption.
After all the settings made in the program window, the user will see a list of all available networks. Next, you need to select the desired network by highlighting it and clicking on the button “Connect”. Then you need to enter the password for the network and put a tick next to the box marked as “Connect automatically”, if you want this feature. Then, in the future, the user will not be asked ask questions about how to configure the USB Wi-Fi adapter, since all settings are saved, and the connection will be established automatically.
It should be understood that USB Wi-Fi adapter works exactly the same way as the built-in which you have on your laptop. Therefore, it has the same settings.
Everything you need to set up in there is very easy. To open these settings, simply with the right mouse button on the network icon in the system tray (the lower right corner on your desktop) and you’ll be redirected to “Network and sharing center”. Click on “Change adapter settings” and you will see your wireless network. If you click with a right mouse button on your Wi-Fi network you will see the advanced menu where you can disable the adapter, run the diagnostic problems, as well as to enter its properties.
“Diagnose” allows you to automatically find the problem of your network and fix it. Users only need to carefully follow the instructions on the screen. As a result of it, the system provides a report on the performed actions, from which you can see found and solved errors.
How to set up a USB Wi-Fi adapter on a deeper level? To do so, enter its properties. There you can select the components and protocols which will be used by the device. In addition, there are some situations when in the network settings you must enter the IP-address of the connection manually. To do this, select the Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP \ IPv4) and enter its properties. If you need to make changes there, choose “Use the following IP-address” option and enter the network numbers manually. This information you can find in the contract with a provider. You can also call customer support of your provider to get all the data.
Next thing to do is to go back to the properties of the adapter. Under “Wi-Fi Properties” and “Networking” tab there is a button “Configure”. When you press it, an additional menu opens with a few tabs:
- Power Management.
The first tab displays information about the device. If an error occurs, in the field will be displayed the code and its general information. If no errors are detected, you will see the message “The device is working properly”.
In the second tab, you will see all the options and properties of your USB Wi-Fi adapter. There you can enable and disable certain features, as well as to expose their values.
“Driver” displays all the data about the software and its version. There you can remove or update the driver.
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The next tab “Details” allows you to see detailed information about the device. It’s worth mentioning that under this tab, you’ll find absolutely all the information regarding your USB Wi-Fi adapter. In the “Property” drop-down menu you can select one of the options or services to show additional information. Below, in the field under “Value” will show details and properties about the selected property.
The last tab, “Power Management”, contains power settings of USB Wi-Fi adapter. There you can enable or disable automatic shut-down of the device to save power.
By returning to the main properties of the adapter, you can go to “Sharing” tab and there you can enable or disable “Internet Connection Sharing” to other users connected to the network. This option is used when you create a virtual network using the laptop as an access point or server.