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Windows Vista Wireless Network Configuration

Diagnostic results - Click to EnlargeIn our example here the computer has successfully identified the problem, the network key I entered was not correct. Options offered here are to enter the network key again in the properties of the connection or attempt to connect to another network.

Configuring your IP Address

Wireless Connection  Properties - Click to EnlargeConfiguring your IP address is only necessary if you are not using DHCP or if you would like to increase your networks security by not handing out addresses automatically. To assign a fixed IP address RIGHT click (thats a right click not your usual left one) on your Wireless Network Connection and left click on properties, the last one on the list. Vista will possibly bring up a box thats says "Windows needs your permission to continue", if this is the case click continue.

Wireless Connection  Properties - Click to EnlargeInside Wireless Network Connection properties you will see a box with the words "This connection uses the following items" above it. Inside this box select Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IP4) and double click on it or alternately you can highlight it and click on the properties button below the box and to the right.

TCP/IP General Configuration - Click to Enlarge TCP/IP Alternate Configuration - Click to Enlarge

Wireless TCP/IP Properties - Click to EnlargeIt is in the Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) Properties that we finally get to the settings required to make the wireless adaptor work properly with a manually specified IP address. A wireless network adaptor differs from an ethernet adaptor in that we can supply two seperate IP configurations, a general and an alternate configuration (above left and above right) so that it may be used in more than one location without requiring any changes. In either of these panes we can configure the wireless network connections IP address, subnet mask, gateway (or router) address and nameservers. If "Obtain an IP address automatically" and "Obtain DNS server address automatically" are selected by clicking on the circle to the left of the option (which places a dot inside it to show it is selected) then the computer will expect to receive these details from a DHCP server and no further configuration is necessary. This is referred to as being a DHCP client and is the default configuration for any interface on a Windows computer.

If a DHCP server is not available, undesirable or if you are initially configuring a device that does not have a DHCP server enabled by default you may need to manually specify your IP address etc. If you are unsure as to what is required please consider reading our Basic Networking Guide for further information. Our example is configured with an IP address of and has a subnet mask of so that it can talk to all hosts (computers, devices etc) connected to the same network as it with an IP address between and Its default gateway is, which is the address of another host on the same network which may be an adsl modem, wireless router or even another computer that has internet connection sharing enabled. It is through the default gateway that this computer will expect to be able to communicate with other hosts not on its own network. Finally there is the nameserver addresses. These are computers usually run by your Internet Service Provider that translate URLS such as to the IP address of the computer that contains the information your require, for example a website. Check their website or contact them and ask if you dont know what they are. Without nameservers you will not get far on the internet.

Once configured clicked OK on the bottom of Internet Protocal TCP/IP properties and OK once again on the previous screen to save your settings.


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