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Creating a Wireless Home Network (Windows Vista)

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A wireless home network can be set up for use by a computer with any Windows operating system(OS). The tasks needed to connect a computer to the new network are different for each OS and are covered in other documents listed in the See also section.
This document provides a quick overview of how to setup a wireless network for your home. Most home networks are set up to allow multiple computer to share files and access the internet, however a network can be setup without internet access. To access the internet, you will need to establish service with an internet service provider (ISP). Most telephone and cable providers offer a high-speed DSL or cable connection. Some companies now offer a wireless 3G or 4G broadband connection that allow access to the internet without setting up a home network.
The big advantage of using a home network is security. You control access to the network by establishing passwords and encryption settings. A home network also allows you to share resources such as printers, file storage, and connections to wireless capable TVs and game consoles.
Once the network is set up, see the See also section at the end of this document for links to documents on connecting a computer to the network for the first time, and troubleshooting a lost network connection.
Before setting up a wireless network in your home or small office you need:
Figure 1: Hardware required
Image of the hardware needed to set up a wireless home network
  • ISP Internet Service - High Speed Internet connection from an Internet Service Provider. This document assumes you already have already tested the internet connection by connecting the computer directly to the modem with a network cable.
  • Modem - Converts the signal from the ISP into a digital signal used by the router. The DSL or Cable modem is normally provided by the ISP.
  • Wireless Router - Manages the wireless signals to and from the computers and other devices on the network.
    NOTE:In some cases, the modem and router are combined into one device, and may be referred to as a wireless access point.
  • Computer with a network cable - Cable is needed while setting up the router and is then disconnected.
  • Wireless adapter for the computer . After the wireless network is set up, the computer will need a wireless adapter to communicate with the router. A wireless adapter is built into to most notebook, but external wireless adapters that plug into the USB port are available for desktop computers.
To configure the router, which is the communication center of your home network, connect the router to the modem, and temporarily connect the network cable from the computer to the wireless router. Follow the specific installation instructions that came with your router. The router and the computer must use the same communication protocals (802.11g or 802.11n). See the manufactures' documentation for information on software compatibility.
  1. Turn the computer on and allow it to connect to the router.
  2. showhide
    Open Internet Explorer web browser and type in the URL address to connect to the router. See table below.
    Typical Router Settings
    Router Brand NameRouter URLUser NamePassword
    3Com http://192.168.1.1 admin admin
    D-Link http://192.168.0.1 admin
    Linksys http://192.168.1.1 admin admin
    Netgear http://192.168.0.1 admin password
  3. If prompted, enter the default router user name and password. See table above.
  4. Follow the prompts to configure the router security settings.
    • Name for the router (SSID) . This will be the name of your network. Do not use the default name.
    • Type of security . WEP and WAP are the most common types. Never set up a without security.
    • Password or passphrase . Never use blank password.
    • Administrator name and password . This is the name of the person who is allowed to change the router settings. If you want to leave the default user name (admin), be sure to change the password.
Test the router connection while the network cable is still connected.
While the computer is still connected to the router with the network cable, test the internet connection by trying to browse to multiple web sites.
  1. Shutdown and restart the computer. This allows the computer to connect to dynamically created IP addresses.
  2. Open Internet Explorer, type the URL for a reputable web site (for example, www.hp.com or www.microsoft.com) in the address field, and then press the enter key.
Once you have setup a new wireless home network and can connect to the internet using a network cable, you should test the wireless connection.
NOTE:This section is a brief introduction on making a first time connection to a wireless network. For complete details on establishing a wireless network connection for the first time, see the documents in the See also section.
To test the wireless connection, disconnect the network cable between the computer and the router, and do the following steps.
  1. Turn on the wireless power switch. The wireless LED will glow.
    Also, a message that says wireless networks are available in the local area should display near the task bar. Or, you can click the wireless icon in the task bar to view a message about available wireless network connections.
    Figure 2: Available wireless network connections
    Image of available wireless network connections with Connections that are available highlighted.
    If no wireless networks are displayed, the wireless device is probably turned off.
  2. Right-click the wireless network icon, and select the option to Open the Wireless connection window .
  3. Click Refresh to search for all available wireless networks in the local area, and then select the name of your new wireless network.
  4. Click Connect , and follow the prompts to select the type of security (WEP or WAP) and enter the Network key (password or passphrase), and then select Connect .
    Also, a message that the computer is connected to a wireless networks should display near the task bar. Or, you can hover the cursor over the wireless icon in the task bar to view a message about wireless network connection.
The computer should establish a wireless connection to the network. And, if the network has a connection to the internet, you can view different web sites.
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