Welcome to our hardware installation section. In this section we take a look at how to install a wireless card or similar PCI, PCMCIA or USB device. Laptop computer owners are quite lucky in this respect, where even the most basic model of laptop comes with a built in wireless card these days. This default setup can only be attributed to the consistent growth of broadband reach. If your machine is a laptop or a desktop that already has a wireless card installed and ready to configure you can most probably skip this section and move onto the tutorials. Desktop computer owners are less fortunate in that although almost all of them ship with an ethernet card they are still neglected as far as wireless networking. You should read on if you have to install a wireless card.
As previously mentioned there are three main types of devices that will generally be encountered in the home or office. When we say type in this instance we are really referring to the way the wireless card will plug into your computer, what connectors it uses and how it is installed. PC cards (also called PCMCIA Cards) are an option mostly for laptops, a flat card about the size of a credit card that slides into a slot on the outside of the machine. PCI cards are used in destop PC's and installation requires the computers covers be removed and the PCI card inserted into an available PCI slot on the computers mainboard. The final choice is a USB device, which is an option available on virtually all desktop and laptop computers manufactured in the last few years.
Once your wireless adapter is physically installed on your computer the next step is to install any drivers that the device might require. A driver is best described as a little program that allows your computer to use a device correctly. Without a usable driver your wireless card simply will not work. If you are using a new wireless adaptor then take care of the manuals and most importantly of all any CD's, DVD's or floppy disks that may have come with it. One of them will be the drivers disk. If you are installing an older adaptor (or you did not take care of the drivers disk) then the driver may still be available for download from the manufacturers website or found with some careful use of google. There are many sites on the internet that have drivers for older devices available for download. If you are using a reasonably common wireless card you may even be really lucky and find that Windows will have a driver for your device already or one will be available for download from the internet via the windows update catalog.
Because installing a driver is very much the same regardless of the way the wireless card connects to the computer we have kept installing drivers in two seperate sections, one that documents installing a driver if your using Windows XP and the other for installing a driver using Windows Vista.