A wireless network at home lets you get online from more places in your house. This article describes the basic steps for setting up a wireless network and starting to use it.
Get the right equipment
Before you can set up your wireless network, here’s what you’ll need:
Broadband Internet connection and modem. A broadband Internet connection is a high-speed Internet connection. Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) and cable are two of the most common broadband connections. You can get a broadband connection by contacting an Internet service provider (ISP). Typically, ISPs that provide DSL are telephone companies and ISPs that provide cable are cable TV companies. ISPs frequently offer broadband modems. Some ISPs also offer combination modem/wireless routers. You can also find these at computer or electronics stores, and online.
Wireless router. A router sends info between your network and the Internet. With a wireless router, you can connect PCs to your network using radio signals instead of wires. There are several different kinds of wireless network technologies, which include 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n, and 802.11ac.
Wireless network adapter. A wireless network adapter is a device that connects your PC to a wireless network. To connect your portable or desktop PC to your wireless network, the PC must have a wireless network adapter. Most laptops and tablets—and some desktop PCs—come with a wireless network adapter already installed.
To check whether your PC has a wireless network adapter:
- Select the Start button, type device manager in the search box, and then select Device Manager.
- Expand Network adapters.
- Look for a network adapter that might have wireless in the name.
Setting up the modem and Internet connection
After you have all the equipment, you'll need to set up your modem and Internet connection. If your modem wasn't set up for you by your Internet service provider (ISP), follow the instructions that came with your modem to connect it to your PC and the Internet. If you're using Digital Subscriber Line (DSL), connect your modem to a phone jack. If you’re using cable, connect your modem to a cable jack.
Positioning the wireless router
Put your wireless router somewhere where it will receive the strongest signal with the least amount of interference. For better results, follow these tips:
Securing your wireless network
Security is always important; with a wireless network, it's even more important because your network's signal could be broadcast outside your home. If you don't help secure your network, people with PCs nearby could access info stored on your network PCs and use your Internet connection.
To help make your network more secure:
Some routers support Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS). If your router supports WPS and it’s connected to the network, follow these steps to set up a network security key:
- Do one of the following, depending on which version of Windows is running on your PC:
- In Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, select Start, start typing Network and Sharing Center, and then choose it in the list.
- In Windows 10, select Start , then select Settings > Network & Internet > Status > Network and Sharing Center.
- Select Set up a new connection or network.
- Select Set up a new network, then choose Next.
The wizard will walk you through creating a network name and a security key. If your router supports it, the wizard will default to Wi‑Fi Protected Access (WPA or WPA2) security. We recommend that you use WPA2, because it offers better security than WPA or Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) security. With WPA2 or WPA you can also use a passphrase, so you don’t have to remember a cryptic sequence of letters and numbers.
Connect a PC to your wireless network
- Select the Network or icon in the notification area.
- In the list of networks, choose the network that you want to connect to, and then select Connect.
- Type the security key (often called the password).
- Follow additional instructions if there are any.
If you have problems with your Wi-Fi network when using Windows 10, see Fix Wi-Fi problems in Windows 10 for advanced troubleshooting info.