Here are some of the most commonly received USB wireless adapter questions we receive at Micro Center:
Q: What is a USB wireless adapter used for?
A: A USB wireless adapter is essentially a wireless network card that is used to access a network through a USB port on your computer. Wireless adapters allow your computer to connect to a wireless network for internet in the absence of an internal network card.
Q: What USB wireless adapters do you have in stock?
A: Store stock can be checked online at any time. Here is a link directly to the USB wireless adapters that Micro Center will have available.
Q: How does the USB adapter plug into the computer?
A: The adapter plugs into an available standard USB port. Computers normally have multiples of these ports.
Q: Will my computer have internet when I plug the adapter in?
A: The adapter allows you to connect to a wireless network provided by a wireless router or access point. If you know the password to connect to the wireless signal and it is connected to the internet, then you can have internet.
Q: Is using a wireless adapter secure?
A: Wireless networks offer a variety of security protocols to keep information safe and secure. As long as you configure one of these available options, your connection will be secure.
Q: Does a wireless USB adapter connect to the internet like my phone?
A: No, phones use a SIM card to access a data network using 3G, 4G, or 5G from a cell phone provider. While these networks are also wireless, this is not the same as what is supported by USB wireless network adapters.
Q: Can the adapter be used on other devices?
A: Generally they cannot. USB wireless adapters are designed to work with computers by installing drivers. Most work with PCs and many work with Macs, but the specifications of the driver for the USB adapter will determine compatibility.
Q: Why doesn’t my USB wireless adapter work on my computer?
A: If the wireless adapter isn’t working after plugging it in, it might be because you need to obtain the drivers from the manufacturer’s website. These are files that tell the wireless adapter how to talk to the computer and typically these are free downloads provided by the manufacturer of the wireless adapter.
Q: How do I get the driver without internet?
A: You can connect the computer temporarily to the router using an Ethernet cable, or you can download the driver on another computer and save it to a flash drive, then install it from the flash drive on the computer needing the driver.
Q: Do I have to use the software included with the adapter?
A: No. You only need the driver. Other programs are usually optional because modern operating systems have their own ability to connect to wireless networks once the driver is installed.
Q: Why are some adapters more expensive than others?
A: Some adapters have different hardware components and may have better performance specifications. For example, most adapters connect to 2.4ghz bands, but many of the better ones offer dual band support and can connect to the 5ghz band as well.
Q: Why would I use a dual band adapter?
A: Dual band adapters allow a faster connection when using the 5ghz band supported by the wireless network.
Q: Why am I not getting the speed I paid for from my provider?
A: Wireless adapters are still subject to the same interference that laptops face when using wireless connections. You can test the speed best with an Ethernet cable connected directly to your incoming source. If it doesn't test at what speed you are paying for, contact your internet provider for additional assistance.
Q: Why does another wireless computer get faster speeds?
A: This could be due to differences in the wireless adapters used, however if it is a big difference you may be experiencing a problem with the adapter. Try reinstalling the driver in device manager.
Q: Are wireless USB adapters compatible with a Mac?
A: Yes. The hardware should have no problem fitting and working with a Mac OS computer, however you may have to download the Mac version of the driver manually from the manufacturer website.
Q: How are the USB adapters different from a PCI adapter?
A: PCI adapters are designed to be placed inside a computer, however not all computers have a free motherboard slot for a PCI card. USB adapters are more flexible because most computers have a free USB port.