How Do I Connect a Wireless Router to Multiple Computers

How do I connect a wireless router to multiple computers? It's a common question for people in busy households with multiple systems. Fortunately, routers are designed to connect to multiple computers, so it's an easy question to answer.

How Many Connections Can a Router Handle?
One of the first questions that many people have when shopping for a home wireless router is how many connections it can handle. Technical specifications state that wireless network routers can handle up to 250 connections, but the practical answer isn't so impressive.

Routers are called routers because they route network connection requests. When one computer is connected to the network, it may make anywhere from 10 to 50 network requests at a time. In practical terms, this means 5 computers could theoretically use up to 250 connections without any trouble. While some manufacturers advise no more than 5 computers connect to a wireless network simultaneously, you can typically run anywhere from 5 to 10 devices on a single high-quality wireless router.

Practically, this means that five computers, or three computers, a printer and a video game console can run simultaneously. You do need to be careful about intensive network use, however. Trying to run five video game consoles from a single wireless connection can slow things down, as can several people downloading music or movie files to different computers.

Get a Wireless Router and Network Adapters
From a hardware standpoint, you need one wireless router and a separate wireless adaptor for each device you want to connect to the network. Most wireless routers have up to four wired Ethernet connections that you can use to connect desktop computers, printers or scanners.

Some devices, such as video game consoles and wireless printers, have built-in wireless network adapters, so you don't need any additional equipment. Laptops and dekstops may need a wireless network card or an external USB wireless adapter.

Setting It up
When you first set up your network, you'll need to connect your wireless router to a computer through a wired Ethernet connection. Run installation software from this wired computer to configure your network and choose security settings.

Once the network is running, connecting multiple computers to your wireless router is simple. If you have a wireless network indicator in your system tray, simply right-click and open the network connection manager. Otherwise, go to your Start Menu, then Control Panel, Network and Internet and Connect to a Network.

From there, simply select your network from the drop-down list, and click Connect. If you've got your wireless network set up with security features, you may need to enter a password or select the appropriate security settings when connecting. You can choose to save your connection settings for future use.

Reduce Network Demands
The average home wireless network is limited by the number of network demands that systems make on a router. You can reduce the number of network demands that your systems make in order to effectively expand the capacity of your router. Turn off plug-ins in browsers, use "light" chat programs with fewer bells and whistles and close browsers when they're not in use.

By reducing the number of network requests that your systems make, you can effectively expand your network capacity. However, if you begin experiencing dropped network connections, you'll need to reduce the number of computers using your network or look for a more robust router. 

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