So you’ve got a brand new laptop at the office. Maybe you’re really lucky and got a Tablet PC. Whatever model or brand you got, it almost certainly includes wireless support. Now you can work from anywhere in the office or campus without having to find an available network plug. Your IT department will handle setting up your new laptop for the work network. Make sure they show you how to connect to the network when you’re on the road or outside the office. They probably have specific instructions or software you need to use to make a virtual private network (VPN) connection to the network.
But when you bring your new wireless laptop home, you’re in charge of making it work with the wireless setup you have there. And if you want to work from your neighborhood coffee shop, that’s up to you too. In this column, I’ll help you set up that laptop so that you can easily connect your work laptop to your home network. I’ll also provide some tips when using a public wireless access point (also known as a “hot spot”).
Wi-Fi Preparation – What You Need to Connect
Mobile workers must know how to set up their mobile gear to connect to Wi-Fi locations. Using WinXP in this tutorial, we’ll go through the steps for setting up a laptop to access a Wi-Fi network. Some Wi-Fi cards can be set to automatically detect and connect to Wi-Fi networks. It is still important to know how to manually set up your Wi-Fi card to connect to a Wi-Fi network.
Before you attempt to use any Wi-Fi network, find out what the SSID, Channel, Mode and WEP key are. Some Wi-Fi locations do not require a WEP key. Many Wi-Fi providers have this information on their web site or when you purchase access you will be provided the information.
Ensure you have a firewall program installed and running. This will protect your data.
Start up your laptop and once booted, look for the Wi-Fi network icon in the bottom right of the screen.
Click on the Wifi Connection icon on bottom right of screen and you should see a window that indicates connection, strength and duration. Click on the Properties tab.
This window shows the type of networking card installed. Click on the Wireless Networks tab.
Adding a Network Connection
Once the Wireless Network Connection Properties window is open you will have two options depending on how you set up your laptop.
If you do not see any networks listed in Preferred or Available networks, you will have to manually add the SSID. Click on Add. You will have to enter the SSID and WEP key (if required). Click OK and you should then see the network you just added in the Available networks box.
Entering a new SSID network connection
Using an Available Network
If you see the correct SSID showing in the Available Networks, then you need to click on Configure in order to enter the WEP key if that is required.
Configuring SSID for an available network.
Entering SSID and WEP Key
In this window, enter the SSID for the Wi-Fi network you want to access. Make sure you do not have CAPS lock or NUM lock while entering the information.
If a Network key is required, click on “Data Encryption and then enter the Network key you have been provided with. Again make sure you do not have CAPS or NUM lock on. Click OK when entered. If you have entered the key incorrectly a message will pop up and you will need to re-enter the key.
Entering SSID and WEP Key
Next go to Start – and where it says Connect To click on that and you should see choices like in the graphic below. Click on Wireless Network Connection and it should work.
There are occasions when the connection doesn’t work, in these cases check your firewall software and make sure it allows you to connect to the Wi-Fi network. To check this, disable your firewall software and check the connection again. If you can connect with the firewall program disabled, you will need to change your firewall settings. If your firewall program is not the problem check the SSID and WEP key information that you entered. Both of these are case sensitive. If you had obtained SSID information from the Internet, check with someone in the establishment to see if the SSID has been changed.
10 tips home wireless security settings