First lets talk about the equipment you will need for your wireless network. I would reccomend broadband internet of the DSL, or Cable flavors first since dial up internet is already slow enough without trying to share the connection between several computers. Your ISP will provide you with a cable or DSL modem, they used to send you a network card along with your kit, but now they've gotten cheap on us and seldom do, so the first thing you;ll need if you dont already have one is a network or ethernet card.
normally your cable or DSL modem would connect to the ethernet card in the back of your computer, or sometimes to a USB ethernet adaptor, but if your going to set up a wireless or wired network, and share your internet connection, then you need a router.
next since were talking about wireless networks, it means theres more than one computer involved, so for the second computer in this scenario lets pretend its a laptop, and if your laptop doesn't have a built in wireless adaptor you'll need a USB wireless adaptor or a wireless card.
Now, so you can get an image in your head about how the whole setup should look, heres a diagram of a wired and wireless combination network.
Always read the manual, and follow the directions when installing new devices in your computer, most of the time you will have to install the software, then insert the device, but sometimes you install the device, then the software. For this scenario, we will assume you are running windows XP, some of the steps would be slightly different for other operating systems. Once the device(were talking about your ethernet cards, and wireless PC cards for your laptop, the router will come later) is detected, windows will search for the drivers, so be sure you have the disk that came with the device in your CD or DVD drive, once windows finds the drivers it may show a list, usually it will automatically select the best one, push next, you may recieve a warning message, push continue anyway. Once you've got all your devices installed properly then run the network setup wizard, or the wireless network setup wizard, if you have windows XP service pack 2 installed(Start,all programs,accessories,communications,networkwork setup wizard, or wireless network setup wizard) on your primary computer, the one with the router attatched to it, then create the network setup disk, or use a floppy disk or portable flash drive if your doing the wireless network setup wizard.
Once youve run the appropriate setup wizards, run the software that came with your router, the router will require a password so you can access it to change the configuration later, so select a password thats not easy to guess, preferably with a combination of letters and numbers. Then choose an SSID (Service set identifier) the router will usually have a preset one, I use a linksys router so mine was factory set to linksys, you dont have to change it but if you dont, hackers usually know the default one, so they will have an easier time breaking into your network if you dont. If you want to further secure your network, you can turn off broadcast SSID after all your computers are connected to the wireless network, broadcasting SSID allows new computers to easily find your network, then, they would just need to provide your WEP password to gain access. If its not broadcast, it would be harder for a hacker to gain access to your network, but if you add a new computer to the network, you must remember to turn it back on before doing so. Enable DHCP (dynamic host configuration protocal)when asked, unless you want to set your IP address manually. Lastly, you'll want to enable WEP, (wireless equivalency protocal) which is encryption to further secure your network, be sure all of the computers on your network have the same WEP key. You do not have to do this, but I would recommend it if you want a more secure network.
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