How to use wireless networking on a laptop



This is one that I run into from time to time. Most laptops the last year or two (actually maybe a bit longer), have built in wireless networking. This is great and makes for easy access to wireless access points just about anywhere. In fact, most current operating systems (Windows XP included) usually do a great job of detecting available networks. (Sometimes they do too good a job which is why wireless security is an issue, but we’ll save that for a future post.) I’ve run into several laptops over the last few years though that supposedly had wireless networking, but the user hadn’t been able to access any wireless networks with the laptop. Usually it’s an easy fix….


That’s why we’re in the “basics” section right? It is an easy fix, because many laptops that come with built in wireless ALSO come with a switch or button of some sort that turns it on and off. Thankfully, the default setting for most of these I’ve seen is off. That’s good, because you wouldn’t want your laptop networking with other wireless devices without being aware of it. So, if you’re having problems getting wireless networking to work on a new laptop, look around the edges of the case and see if there isn’t a small switch or button that might make a difference.

When it’s switched on it may take 30 seconds or so for Windows (or whatever your computer runs) to detect the change and show available networks. If encryption is enabled, this is where we’re looking at another story, but for “in the clear” networks, you’re probably already online.

What’s really disturbing is that one customer asked at the place they bought the notebook. They asked one of the sales people at Best Buy how to use the wireless networking on the notebook. They didn’t know and suggested that maybe the customer had to use a verizon wireless (cell-phone modem) card.

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