Installing a USB Wireless Adapter on a Desktop Computer
If you want to get rid of wires in your home, you will be tempted to use USB wireless network adapters on your desktop computers. If you want to do this, then you should know that installing such adapters can bring a bit of trouble at times. That's why we created this tutorial, to guide you through the process of installing a USB wireless network adapter on your Windows 7 computer.
Purchasing and Identifying the Exact Model You Have
The first step is to purchase the adapter(s). For example, a search on Amazon returns plenty of results.
When you have one, first look on its back to identify the exact model and version. You will find a line with the producer and model code, as highlighted in this screenshot. Write it down.
For example, I have a Belkin F5D8055 version 2 adapter.
Installing the Appropriate Driver of the USB Wireless Adapter
Now it is time to open the website of the adapter's manufacturer and download the driver for that exact model and version. In my case it could be found here.
Run the setup program of the driver and be careful to think through all the installation steps. At some point, you might be asked to insert the USB adapter into your computer. Do it then, and not a moment later, to make sure the setup will go through smoothly.
Once the installation is done, you will most probably need to restart your computer. When you log back in, you should see the wireless network icon on the taskbar, and the USB wireless adapter detecting all the wireless networks in your area.
If you want to learn how to connect to wireless networks, check out these guides:
- How to Connect to Wireless Networks
- How to Connect to Hidden Wireless Networks
- How to Set Up an Ad Hoc Wireless Computer-to-Computer Network
Pay Attention to This Gotcha!
One thing I noticed when testing some USB network adapters is that manufacturers tend to use the same installation program for all operating systems. If you have Windows XP, the setup program won't differ than the one for Windows 7.
Unfortunately this can cause problems. Windows XP was not that great at managing wireless network connections, so many vendors offered additional applications together with their drivers, that were doing the management of wireless network connections. And that's OK for Windows XP users.
Windows 7 does a better job and vendors generally do not offer applications that replace the built-in functionality for managing wireless networks. But since the setup program is the same, you will be asked about installing such applications, even though they are not included. You can see one such example in the screenshot below, which applies to the Belkin model I used for this tutorial.
Clicking Yes would cause the driver to expect that this application gets installed as well, which is not the case. What does this mean? Well... my USB wireless network adapter will not function properly and will not be able to connect to wireless networks.
If you just installed the drivers for a wireless adapter and it doesn't seem to work, then uninstall them, reboot your computer and make the installation from the beginning. This time though, pay attention to all messages and questions you receive. Clicking No in the example I shared made the difference between a working adapter and a broken one.
I hope this guide was useful to you. If you have any questions on the topic, don't hesitate to ask via the comments form below. For other interesting articles on wireless connections, check out the stuff recommended below.