Wireless adapters allow you to connect to a network without being constrained by a cable. Because most computers have at least one USB port, USB wireless network adapters can work with a wide variety of computers, and they're also very portable and easy to use.
When shopping for a USB wireless adapter, consider how much speed you need. 802.11a and 802.11b adapters have maximum data transfer rates of 54Mbps, while 802.11b adapters have maximum rates of 11Mbps. In order to achieve these rates, however, your wireless router must be able to operate at the same speed.
It's also important to make sure that the adapter you choose has an adequate signal range. 802.11b and 802.11g adapters work on a frequency of 2.4GHz, which has a greater range than the 5GHz frequency on which 802.11a adapters work. You may be able to extend the distance your laptop can be from a wireless router if you buy a wireless adapter with greater range.
Another factor to consider is security. Your network security depends on the router you use, so be sure to buy an adapter that matches your router's protocol, whether it's WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy), WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) or WPA2.
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