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What is a Wireless USB Network Adapter?

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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 26 September 2016
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A wireless USB network adapter is a device that can connect to the universal serial bus (USB) port of a computer to allow that computer to connect to a wireless network. There are a number of different types of these devices, ranging from small pieces of hardware similar in size to a portable memory stick that connects directly to a USB port to larger devices that connect through a USB cable. A wireless USB network adapter can provide basic connectivity to a wireless network, and these devices can also include software that may provide protection from attacks by malicious software or improve network performance and organization.

There are several types of wireless USB network adapter devices, and the type used typically depends on a computer user's preferences and the type of computer. Smaller devices easily carried in a pocket can often be used with a laptop computer or by someone looking to quickly and easily swap a single wireless USB network adapter among several computers. These types of devices usually look like a small thumb drive or USB memory stick and connect directly to a USB port on a computer. While most modern laptops have built-in wireless devices, these external devices can be useful as backup or for older computers.

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Other types of wireless USB network adapter devices are similar in size to a small router and serve as a receiver for a wireless signal. These usually have an antenna and may be more sensitive for picking up a wireless signal at greater distances. A wireless USB network adapter of this type will usually connect to a computer through a USB cable, rather than directly plugging into a USB port on the computer. This type of adapter can be well suited for desktop computers since the device is larger and not as easily portable as smaller types.

A wireless USB network adapter can include internal firmware such as a firewall, and may also come with a disc that includes drivers for the device and supplementary software. These drivers allow the computer to properly recognize and use the wireless USB network adapter, and typically replace default drivers provided with a computer operating system (OS). Other software included with these devices can include software firewalls to help block attacks from suspicious websites and antivirus programs that can protect against malicious software. A disc included with this type of device can also provide software to more easily connect to wireless networks, as well as organizational tools to save preferences and settings for multiple networks.

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swmddo
Post 1

How can I connect a USB device to my PC wirelessly? I have a wireless router, but no USB port on the back.

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