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How Do I Network?

ADSL & Wireless Networking

Before we start on this rollercoaster journey I must assume you have a fair knowledge of finding your way around Windows. I am basing this on Windows XP and an ADSL router (not a USB modem) but Vista users should be able to work out the equivalent places to go.


The first thing to understand about your ADSL connection is that you really have two types of connection to worry about. One is between your computer and the router (wireless or cat5 cable) and one between the router and the outside world (telephone cable). These are usually referred to as LAN and WAN respectively. If your Windows looks after the connection to the router and your router looks after the connection to the Internet. You will either connect to your router with a cable plugged directly into your PC or laptop or via a wireless adapter.

How do I work out where the problem is?

The first thing to check is that the wireless part of your router is switched on. There is usually a light labeled ‘wlan’ or ‘WiFi’ that should be on. It’s worth mentioning that the most common routers Telefonica are sending out are these cheap and nasty ‘monopuerto’ ones which are not wireless. One common problem with wireless is interference from other wireless devices such as cordless phones (not mobiles), security alarms and even microwaves. Try moving your router and computer about the room.

Probably the next thing to establish is whether your network adapter is working properly. Go to 'start' 'control panel' and choose 'network connections'. You will probably see more than one icon here and the ones you're interested in will be called a 'local Area (or Wireless) Connection' something like this:

If your connection is ‘disabled’ then either the network adapter or necessary software isn’t installed properly, or in the case of a laptop wireless adapter, it may have been switched off on the panel or keyboard somewhere.

If you have a working wireless card in your computer you should see an icon with a small green radar at the bottom. The health of your connection to the router can be determined here, and a healthy connection should look like the one in the diagram. A slightly poorly one will have a small yellow warning triangle, and a very unhealthy one will have a red cross through it.

If you have a red cross then there is most likely a physical error. Typical problems are the cable between your computer and the router is disconnected, the wireless network security (WEP & WPA) is not set up or a no network is being detected by your PC or advertised by your router.

If you have a yellow triangle then this usually means Windows has found and connected to a network but doesn’t have enough information to connect to the outside world.


So what do you do to fix it?
This is where it starts getting a bit technical, I’ll start with the easy stuff and don’t feel deflated if you bail out at anytime and give me a call to arrange a solution.
As with most Windows tasks, the right mouse button comes into its own. In this instance you can use the ‘repair’ option to refresh some of your network adapters’ details, try it. Right click once on the icon and chose repair and you may find this gets you up and running.

If you chose the ‘properties’ option (remember from the right click of your mouse) you will find a myriad of options to do with the configuration of your network adapter. The most useful section for wireless adapters is (not surprisingly) under the ‘wireless networks’ tab. Here you can tell Windows to use the ‘Zero Configuration’ function by ticking the box next to the ‘Use Windows to configure my wireless network’ box. You can also try and reconnect to any visible wireless networks by clicking on the configure button.


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