A wireless LAN PC card is an external device that allows you to use your laptop computer to connect to any compatible wireless network in the area. Whether it is a local area network you set up yourself or a public wireless network set up by someone else, the technology is the same. These days, many laptops have built-in wireless LAN PC cards, but if your laptop is not one of them, you will need to install the LAN PC card yourself. Some laptops are sold with the cards, so you would only need to install them, while with other laptops, you will need to buy them separately.
Choosing the Right Wireless LAN PC Card
Before you install a wireless LAN PC card, you will need to make sure it is compatible with your laptop. Otherwise, it simply will not work properly. To do this, look at the bottom of your laptop. It should contain its model name and number. Write it down and take it with you to the store. When you see a wireless card, look at its packaging. The list of compatible computers should be somewhere on it. If your laptop is one of them, you will be able to install it.
If there is more than one wireless LAN PC card that is compatible with your laptop, you can pick the one that is the cheapest. While there are differences between compatible cards, they should not be significant enough to affect your laptop's day-to-day operations.
1. Preliminary Set-Up
Once you have the wireless card, you can begin the installation process. First, you will need to check if the wireless card came with an installation CD. Run it and make sure all of the software is installed. Once the software installation is compete, shut down the computer and disconnect the power cord.
2. Inserting the Wireless LAN PC Card
Once the computer is completely shut down, look for a PC card slot. The slot is located in different parts of the computer depending on the model, but it should be fairly recognizable - it would be the only slot large enough to fit a wireless card.
If you have any trouble locating a PC card slot, consult your laptop's operating manual. If you don't have the manual, look it up online - most manufacturers will have copies of the manuals available on their home pages.
Once you located a PC card slot, insert your Wireless LAN PC card into it. Make sure the card is inserted all the way in and that it fits in securely.
3. Installing the Wireless LAN PC Card
Once you insert the card, turn the computer back on. Once you log in, you should get a notification that the computer has detected new hardware. At this point, you may get a message asking you to install new drivers. In some operating systems, the drivers are installed automatically. In others, they must be installed manually. If the later occurs in your computer, simply follow the prompts and everything will be installed.
4. Setting Up a Wireless Connection
At this point, your Wireless LAN PC card should be fully installed. You can now begin using your wireless connection.
To connect to a wireless network, go to the Start menu and select "Control Panel." Double click on the "Network Connections" icon. Then, click on the "Connect to a Network" tab. This will display the list of the available wireless networks in the area and whether or not each network is secure. Right-click on the name of the network you wish to connect to and click on "connect."
If you are accessing your home wireless network, you will need to set-up your password and security settings. If you connect to a public network, the connection will be established automatically.