Installing a Wireless Network Adapter

Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

I'm running Windows Vista and I have an Emachines computer. I just bought a Ralink USB Wireless Network Adapter 802.11b/g/n Lan card. It's supposed to be plug and play. And I've installed the software for it. But I can't figure out how to set up the network or get online with it. The minimal instructions that came with it are no help and the on-board help file speaks a technical language I don't comprehend.

According to the computer, the card is good and recognized as a wireless network adapter. But I got a message that said "Plug a cable into the port Local Area Connection." Where is this port? This thing is supposed to be wireless and didn't come with a cable and I'm not sure I have any free ports. I do have a modem plugged into the computer. And I can connect thru my modem, but I want to be able to connect wirelessly with this adapter.

The instructions say I need one available PCI port and one available USB port. I've got the adapter plugged into the USB port. Where's the PCI port and what do I do with it? Am I missing some parts for this adapter? I was under the impression I could plug it in and configure it and be online in minutes. It's been hours and I'm about to pull my hair out. How do I make this thing work before I go bald?


Thumbnail by ButterflyChaser
Washington, MO(Zone 6a)

Do you also have a wireless router?

Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

No, do I need one? My brother used a wireless network adapater like this at his office and he didn't have a wireless router. He just plugged the adapter into a USB port, installed the software and got right online.

Juneau, AK(Zone 5a)

You need to read up on wireless internet and mentally follow the path that the signals are following to allow you onto the internet.

Microsoft has basic instructions here. Pay careful attention to the hardware requirements.

Salem, IL(Zone 5b)

Most modern offices are 'wired' for wireless computing. There also was a wireless modem for laptops which required a contract with wireless companies and worked similar to a cell phone. Before my retirement, my employer converted from the standard 1fb landlines to wireless modems for remote data reporting, also just like basic cell phone connections with Sprint, Verizon etc.

Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

I was under the impression that with this network adaptor, I wouldn't need a router. My brother's office isn't "wired". In fact, they don't even have phone lines turned on; they use their cell phones. So he bought a simple network adapter like I have, plugged it into his computer and he was online in no time. It showed him different access points he could connect thru in his neighborhood. And all he had was the pc and the network adapter.

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

Sounds like your brother either has free wireless hotspots in the neighborhood, or neighbors who haven't bothered to password protect their networks. You may not have either of those. Honestly I'd advocate setting up your own network and password protecting it even if you do have other access points--if you are planning to access bank accounts, shop online, or other activities that you'd hope to have secure it's better to do those on a password protected network.

I'm curious though why you are trying to do wireless when it's a desktop computer and you have a modem that you can connect it to--if it's a laptop and you want to use it in other areas of the house then it makes sense not to be tied down by wires, but when it's a desktop that's going to stay in place I'd stick with the wired connection that you already have to that modem.

Salem, IL(Zone 5b)

If he is bootlegging other's accounts, he could have legal issues when he is detected. I am sure a lot of that occurs but that does not make it acceptable. The only non-networked wireless I ever saw required a registered wireless modem and an account with a wireless company.

Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

He had just opened his office and didn't have an internet provider yet. His "legal" internet was installed last week.

As for me, I'm getting ready to disconnect my home phone/internet (I have a cell) so I don't have that $90 a month bill. My job was discontinued last week (without notice) due to budget cuts, so I've got to lower my monthly expenses until I can find a new job. I do some online sales so I need an internet connection. I'll call and see how much the phone company will charge for just internet and not phone, if they'll even do that. Otherwise, I'll have to use the public library for sales, online job applications, etc, which will be a pain.

Salem, IL(Zone 5b)

Due to some quality issues with a local catv company, I switched to a dsl with AT&T which is my telephone company. I have a land line so there was no install charge except for a basic charge for the high speed modem. I get a 3 meg down/512k up for an additional $33.00 over the price of the analog phone service. They also have package deals. The 3 meg down is fast enough for most normal data use unless you are downloading full length movies. The 512k up is a bit slow for sending pictures with files of 3 meg size but is still 10 times faster than the best analog phone line.

I read some where there is a law requiring telcos to offer dsl even on dry lines which means there is no requirement to have a land line phone. You can check that out.

Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

I have ATT phone/DSL now. I have a package deal which comes to around $90 after they add all the taxes and fees. I was looking at their site, and I think it would run me about $40 a month just for DSL since I'm an existing customer. A new customer could get it for $15/mo for a year.

I'll check with other internet providers and see if they can hook me up cheaper. ATT prices just keep going up. It's ridiculous. My mom has just basic phone service and it's nearly $60/mo.

Elizabethton, TN(Zone 6b)

I installed an adapter on my daughter's computer, but had to install a router on my own to connect hers. It was extremely complicated, but I simplified it. I called the customer service hotline MANY times over the course of several days to get it connected and running properly. They provided free temporary customer service (3 months) over the phone when you buy their product, but the downside being that most often, we didn't speak the same language, so that was frustrating. It was an irritating process, but once completed, everyone was happy. Needless to say, I am not too eager to have to repeat the process again.

Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

I called ATT and I can drop my phone line and keep my DSL and reduce my monthly bill to about $25/mo. I have a cell phone so I'll transfer my landline phone number to my cell phone, so I really don't lose anything but the high phone bill I've been paying. So I guess I'll go that route rather than buying more equipment that I may not ever get to work.

Thanks for all the input!

Camilla, GA(Zone 8a)

I also have ATT and I pay around $90 for phone and dsl.. Think I will think about doing this also..


Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

Larkie, look online at the specials they have for your area. And then call them and ask about the specials. I discontinued the phone line and asked about the discounted internet. So my internet is now only $15 a month for the next 12 months.

They'll have to disconnect your internet when they disconnect your phone and it may take a couple of days to get it back up again. You'll have to call them to re-register your modem with your new account number. You can still have your same email address. But when you switch to internet only, you get a new account number and your modem won't work as it had been until you re-register it. You'll need the access number on the back of your modem if you have an ATT modem.

I was without internet for 3 days and it was so annoying! It rained the whole time so I couldn't even garden. Can you say BORING!!

Camilla, GA(Zone 8a)

Thanks for the info.. Good to know ahead of time..


Reno, NV

Larkie and Butterfly... I am a dsl tech rep for ATT...hope the following helps. "Wireless" is as it cable from point A to B. You still need 2 points though. Much like a cordless phone, having the phone part but no base station is useless. Even at the wifi hot-spots around town your still wirelessly connecting to a's just theres not yours.

Many of the people I talk to buy theirs used off ebay or craigslist which is fine. There are 2 downsides to that. 1: no warranty and 2: If it's not one of the following make/models the AT&T reps can't, and won't, help you set it up. The only supported maker "we" support currently is a company called 2WIRE. The models 1701HG, 1800HG(B also), 2700hg-b and 2701hg-b are the latest. There only Achilles heel is there power packs (power cords). All the mentioned models use the same one and there readily available at stores or the website for $10 should yours go bad. Butterfly, the reason yours wouldn't connect is because once you made the desktop wireless, it had nothing to connect TO. In a sense you were working, but only had half the equation.

The internet only accounts you refer to are called "dryloop" accounts and are steadily becoming the norm. They still require a phone jack but those jacks don't require home phone service to go with it. Though the models I mentioned aren't the only ones we support they are however the only WIRELESS capable ones.

Hope that helped at least some, and, while this may sound strange after such a barrage of tech, ....happy gardening! lol :)

Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

Thanks for the explanation of the wireless technology. I ended up just dropping the phone and keeping the internet AND got the internet special for $15/mo for DSL. In a year, the price jumps to $40, so I'll have to figure out something else between now and then. Another company offers wireless internet AND phone for $50/mo, so I may switch to them in a year.

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