How to Connect to WiFi

Knowing how to connect to WiFi is useful, especially for the frequent traveler. WiFi refers to "wireless Internet." Many hotels and public areas offer WiFi service, and an increasing number of homeowners are setting up wireless LAN connections, too. Let's take a look at what you need to hop onto the wireless Web:

A Computer With A Wireless Card: Most computers sold today will come with a wireless card already installed, so you shouldn't worry too much if you bought your computer within the last five years or so. If your computer doesn't have one, you can purchase one at an electronics store. The downside of wireless cards is that you'll have to open your hard drive to install them. You can avoid this by purchasing a wireless USB adapter, which plugs into any USB port on your computer. These are a little less reliable than a wireless card, but they should still do the trick.

Active WiFi Service: More and more coffee shops or public libraries offer free WiFi Internet access. If you find yourself in a place that offers free WiFi, for PC users running Windows, you just need to click the Start menu. Select My Networks or Connect To, depending on which version of Windows you're using. My Networks will open up a folder with network options. Double click the icon labeled Wireless Networks. A window should pop up with that displays available wireless networks. Choose one from the list. If the Connect To option is available, this will bring you directly to the list of available networks. Some networks are password protected, so you'll need permission before you can access them. Most public connections are free to hop on. Otherwise, you'll need to contact a local Internet Service Provider (ISP) to find out if DSL or broadband access is available in your area, and you will need to pay a monthly fee for the service.

A Router: If you want wireless Internet in your home, you'll need to connect the modem provided by your ISP to a wireless router. A router will broadcast the WiFi signal throughout your house so numerous computers can log on, and a router can protect your signal by allowing you to set up a password for wireless access. Routers can be found at any major electronics store, and they run between $40 and $90. They come with a disc and instructions on how to set up the network.

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