Have you tried walking into a coffee shop and experiencing WiFi connectivity problems? If you see other people in the shop accessing the WiFi with ease, then you should realize that the problem may be your device. Possibly, your laptop's wireless card isn't compatible with the coffee shop’s WiFi frequency. The same wireless card incompatibility problem holds for your personal computers.
A wireless card is an adapter card, built-in or installed, that allows a device to pick up frequencies and connect to any WiFi hotspot. It is sometimes called the Local Area Network or LAN card. Wireless cards for PCs are about the size of credit cards, commonly equipped with antennas.
Mobile phones have chips instead of cards built into their motherboards for WiFi connectivity. Many of the laptop models also have built-in wireless cards. Meanwhile, you will find that some PCs may not have wireless cards installed, or that they may have installed wireless cards that are outdated. Either way, you will need to learn how to find your wireless card in your PC to fix your WiFi connectivity problem.
How to find wireless card in Windows:
- Go to Start Menu and type in “Device Manager”. Alternately, you can key in “Device Manager” on the search box found on the taskbar. Then click on the Device Manager button.
- You will be led to a list of installed devices. Look for “Network Adapters” in the list and click on it.
- If your PC has an installed wireless adapter card, you will see it under the Network Adapters drop-down list. An example wireless card name would be: Intel Dual Band Wireless AC 7265.
- Double click on the name of the card and a new window will pop displaying the wireless card properties.
- The properties window will display six tabs. You will find comprehensive card information under the Advanced tab and Details tab.
How to find wireless card on MAC:
- At the top of the screen, click on the wireless icon, which in itself already reflects the presence of a wireless Internet card. Clicking the wireless icon also allows you to turn on and off your WiFi connection easily.
- Alternately, hold down the option button and click on the Apple logo, found in the menu bar. This will lead you to System Information list.
- Select “Network”, then click on the “WiFi” button to see information about the installed wireless card.
Now, you learned that your PC has a working wireless card, yet the connectivity problems still exist. You will then need to look further into the following:
- Adapter Designation.
You need to check if the adapter is a PCI card, a PC card, or an ExpressCard. A PCI card connects to the PCs bus (also known as the communication pathway of a computer) and is commonly built into the device. Meanwhile, a PC card simply fits into a slot and is common in laptops. An Express card is the more advanced version of a PC card. You will find such information under the Details tab of the wireless card properties.
Nowadays, WiFi adapters also come in USB types that can be plugged and unplugged. This adapter type does not require lengthy installation process and is gradually becoming a popular choice of users.
If your wireless card is a plug-in, then you can physically check the device. It may have loosened up or dislodged. But if your wireless adapter card is built-in, you can try updating the driver. To do so, follow this pathway: Device Manager, Network Adapters, Wireless Card Adapter Name. Then you can right click on the wireless card name to update driver. You can choose to update the driver using the automatic search for updates or do so manually. Both options should be easy to follow through in your PC.
- Networking Standards.
Have you tried searching for available WiFi networks and ended up choosing between 2.4GHz (gigahertz) and 5GHz? These are bandwidth frequencies, and a higher number implies faster transfer rate. Your PC’s wireless adapter card will affect your ability to use available frequency bands.
Basically, an adapter’s network standard will help you understand how the installed wireless card communicates with other devices. For instance, 802.11b, a common WiFi standard, works for 2.4GHz wireless frequency. It won't allow you to connect to your home WiFi or any public WiFi you are trying to connect with 5GHz frequency band. Therefore, the importance of identifying your network standard cannot be stressed enough.
The example wireless card, Intel Dual Band Wireless AC 7265, works for dual-band frequencies (both 2.4GHz and 5GHz). Ideally, this should be your PC's type of network standard. You will find this information under the Advanced tab of the card properties display.
If you find that the PC is compatible with one frequency band only, you find upgrade your built-in wireless card by bringing it to a service center. Or, you can buy an external adapter to complement your built-in adapter.
What do I do when my PC has no installed wireless card?
Don’t fret if you find out your PC doesn’t have an installed wireless card or if the card specifications do not match your WiFi properties. This problem is common, particularly because PCs are often placed in fixed stations. Linking them to the Internet by cables is only wise. There may be times when you need to access WiFi, though. This need arises when your cables act up. In this case, you have the option buy an external WiFi adapter that often comes as a USB dongle. Choose the dual-band type to allow access to two existing frequency bands (i.e., 2.4GHz and 5GHz).
If indeed you decide to install one in your PC, you need to ensure that the wireless adapter card fits your PC’s operating system and physical specs. For instance, a PC card (one that can be inserted into a slot) is often smaller in size. So while it is compatible with your home wireless network’s frequency, it may not fit into the available slot of your PC. Or, your operating system does not match the software installation requirement of your wireless card.
The information can be overwhelming for now. You always have the option to go to your computer service shop for assistance, if none of what you learned here works.