It was supposed to be so easy, wasn't it? Well, usually it is -- but sometimes, for some reason, Windows just doesn't want to play ball. Here's a quick guide to what to do when you've plugged in all your wireless equipment but it's not connecting yet. Insert the CD. It's not enough to just plug in your wireless card the first time you use it -- you need to put in the CD it came with and install the drivers.
If you've already done that and there's still nothing, then you might need to update your drivers by paying a visit to the manufacturer's website. Note that the instructions below apply to Windows XP. If you're determined to use Windows XP, then what you need to do next will be different depending on your wireless equipment's manufacturer -- you should take a look at your manual. Use the Wireless Network Setup Wizard. While it's easy to use Windows to connect to an existing wireless network, you still need to create the wireless network to begin with.
Don't worry -- once you've created it once, your whole network will be able to connect to and remember it, even if the computer you used to create the network is never switched on again. The easiest way to open the Wireless Network Setup Wizard is through the Start Menu: go to All Programs, Accessories, then Communications, and you'll find it there. If you can't find it, you might need to visit Microsoft's Windows Update at http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com to get it. The first thing to do when the wizard appears is read the welcome message, and click Next.
Type a name for your network -- anything will do, as long as it's relatively unique to you. You're allowed up to 32 letters to express yourself, but remember that your neighbours might get to see this name at some point! If you bought equipment with WPA (stronger encryption), tick that box. Click Next again.
Unless you have a USB flash drive (it's unlikely), choose the option for manual setup. Don't worry -- it's just a matter of printing out some settings and entering them into your other computers. If you don't use encryption, you can usually skip this step.
It Still Doesn't Connect. On one of your other computers, right-click on the wireless icon in the bottom-right corner of your screen -- it looks like a small computer with two lines on the right of it. On the menu that appears, click 'View Available Wireless Networks'. Now, you should see a list of the wireless networks your computer is in range of. Look for the name of your own network.
This will be the name you typed in the setup wizard earlier or, if you use a router, it will probably be the name of your wireless equipment's manufacturer. Note that this is the screen to come to if you ever want to connect to a wireless network other than your usual one -- just double click the one you want, wait a while, and it should work. The most common problem is to find that your computer is trying to connect to another network near you, usually one belonging to your neighbours. If their wireless network has an unnecessarily wide range, it's not at all unusual for you to be able to receive their signal in your house -- I sometimes find as many as five networks in my area available to connect to. Fun as it would be, though, to go through all their shared files, your priority right now is getting their wireless network out of the way to let you connect to your own.
Getting on Your Network. To make sure Windows knows which network is yours, you need to click 'Change the order of preferred networks' on the left of the available networks screen. You should click the 'Add' button to add the name of your network to this list, and use 'Remove' to take away any that aren't yours. When you've highlighted your network, click Properties, and then go to the Connection section.
Make sure 'Connect when this network is in range' is ticked. If all else fails, you might have to take your printout from the Wireless Network Setup Wizard and enter that information on each computer.
Randy G. Hutchings is an Online Marketer that been given reviews and written many articles about Online Scams in Homebase Business and Wireless Technology. Windows Wireless Setup