|While it won't stop a
wireless network from working altogether, interference in its frequency
range can slow it down significantly, as well as reducing its range. If
something is causing interference, the first thing you'll know about it
is when your connection stops working -- unless you know what to look
There are two very common causes of wireless interference:
wireless phones and microwave ovens. 2.4Ghz, the most common wireless
networking frequency, is also a commonly-used wireless phone frequency.
It is possible, though, to find phones that use other frequencies.
Microwave ovens, on the other hand, operate at around 2.4Ghz by
definition. It should be alright to have devices like these in your
house, but certainly not in the same room as any computer that you plan
to use a wireless connection with.
Wireless can, in theory, pass through walls and other partitions
easily. In practice, though, some walls are more solid than others,
which means that they are more likely to block some of the signal. Note
that it's only your interior partitions that matter, not the exterior
ones. This does, however, include your floors, if you want the
connection to work between levels.
Wireless does well with partitions made from: drywall, plywood, other
wood (including doors), glass.
Wireless has trouble with: brick, plaster, cement, metal, stone,
Basically, it's all to do with how porous the materials are -- ones
that let more of other things through also let more of your wireless
If you have a wall made of one of the 'bad' materials, it's not the
end of the world. It just means that your wireless connection might have
a slower speed or a shorter range. You may want to spend more than you
otherwise would to get better equipment and overcome this problem.
Decide Your Budget.
You need to stand back, take a look at your needs, and decide how
much you're going to spend. Do you have long distances to cover? Do you
want your connection to go through stone walls? Each factor will help
you decide how much you should be looking to spend -- remember that the
more problems you have, the more power you will need. On the other hand,
if you live in a small wooden house, you can probably just go for the
cheapest thing you can find.
It's well worth searching a site like amazon.com for wireless
equipment, and taking a look at people's reviews to see what the
different brands out there are like, and what you can get for your
money. It is always a very bad idea to buy something without getting a
second, third and fourth opinion, especially if you're buying it online.
If you can, try to get to a computer shop and see some wireless
networking equipment in action before you commit yourself.
Install and Update Windows XP.
Finally, your wireless life will really be improved if you have the
latest version of Windows. Because wireless is such a new technology, it
wasn't really around in any significant way back when Windows 98, ME and
2000 were released, and support for them wasn't built in to the system.
You'll have a lot more trouble getting wireless to work on systems like
these than you would on Windows XP.
Even if you've got Windows XP, though, that doesn't solve the problem
entirely. Windows XP Service Pack 2 (an updated version of Windows XP)
contains much easier-to-use tools for configuring and using wireless
than the un-updated versions do. If you've been using your copy of
Windows for a while without updating it, you should really make sure
you've got all the latest updates from http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com
before you go any further.