How to Make Your Older Desktop PC Wireless
Just about any desktop PC can support a wireless Internet connection, even older ones. Here’s how to make your older desktop PC wireless.
Check for Spyware
First, you’ll need to make sure that your PC is free of unwanted spyware or other harmful files that could make your wireless connection slow. For an older desktop PC, especially, scan your computer for spyware and infections that could be stealing your system’s resources.
What You’ll Need
To achieve wireless connectivity, you’ll need to have the following:
- an Internet service that’s not dial-up
- a wireless router
- a wireless PC adapter
Choosing a Wireless Router
These days, routers have a much higher level of default intelligence that makes it easier than ever to set up functions with the click of a mouse. You’ll want to consider what applications and hardware a router supports.
Unless you want to receive a wireless Internet connection from inside a multi-story building, you won’t need the most expensive router in the store. However, a more expensive router will offer a few features that are worth the extra money.
Choosing a Bandwidth
How much a router costs is determined by the kind of performance and features it has. Single-band routers are the cheapest. They operate on the 2.4GHz radio band and are well-suited for Web browsing, connecting to social media sites and wireless printing. They do, however, have to compete with other 2.4GHz devices like microwaves, cordless phones and Bluetooth hardware.
If you’ll be connecting gaming consoles, media servers or smart HDTVs, a dual-band router, which operates on the 2.4GHz band and the less crowded 5GHz band, is recommended. That way, you can have your smartphones and laptops connect on the 2.4GHz band and use the 5GHz band for things that require a stronger bandwidth, like streaming HD video and playing video games.
A tri-band router will give you maximum coverage in a high traffic home network, giving you one 2.4GHz radio band and two 5GHz bands to share among your devices. These routers are the most expensive of the three types.
Ports and Other Features
If you have a mix of wired and wireless devices in your home network, make sure the router you choose has at least four gigabit Ethernet ports, as well as a WAN (Internet) port. Choose a router with at least one USB port for attaching things like external hard drives and printers. Two USB ports are better.
Adjustable external antennas allow you to adjust the router for the best possible signal reception and can usually be removed and replaced with high-performance antennas.
Additional features you can get on higher-end routers include:
Guest Access – Most new routers include the ability to offer guests access to your wireless network. With some routers, this access is enabled by default.
Parental Controls – Router manufacturers’ offer varying levels of control, from blocking on a per-device level to content-control systems that manage access to outside sites. You can stop your kids from accessing disreputable websites or manage sites that shouldn’t be viewed on company time.
External Storage – High-end router models have the ability to connect external storage directly to the router, allowing for a do-it-yourself network-attached storage setup. In most cases, shared storage devices such as thumb drives and spinning hard drives, can be attached.
Shared Printing – With USB connectivity becoming standard, most printers can be turned into internet-connected models just by plugging it into your router. If your home or office has heavy iPad/iPhone use, the ability to print from any of these devices can certainly come in handy.
Mobile Management – Router makers have responded to the increase in the use of tablets and smartphones by including tools that allow for greater functionality and mobile management.
Wireless Desktop Adapters
Once you’ve chosen a router, it’s easy to add a wireless adapter to your desktop computer. The two different types of wireless networking components to choose from are as follows:
- wireless USB adapter
- wireless PCI adapter
Both of these devices are packaged with a setup CD-ROM that quickly installs everything needed. The wireless USB adapter is the easiest way to make your PC wireless but the signal strength will be considerably weaker than if you use a wireless PCI card. Still, most people don’t have a problem with signal strength as long as they stay within range of the router that’s sending the signal.
A wireless USB adapter plugs into any available USB port and, after the software is loaded, you can begin surfing the Internet in a matter of minutes.
A wireless PCI adapter is a card adapter that enables high performance wireless connectivity with an extended range. Installation is not as difficult as you might think. You simply remove the side panel from your desktop and insert the card into any one of the white slots inside.
Reading the instructions that come with the PCI adapter will help to ensure a smooth installation, as the card can only be installed in the slot one way.