A Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) driver is a software program that enables a computer to run and configure a WLAN device. WLAN devices include routers, wireless cards, and wireless Internet adapters. These devices make up the hardware necessary to broadcast a wireless network signal and connect computers to the signal. Users can use a WLAN driver to change Internet connection settings or to configure wireless settings on a laptop or personal computer.
Wireless cards and wireless Internet adapters enable computers to connect to wireless signals. Generally, a wireless card is installed in the computer while a wireless Internet adapter connects to a computer through a Universal Serial Bus (USB) plug. Wireless routers broadcast a wireless signal and often provide a wireless hub that enables multiple hubs to connect to the Internet. Companies that manufacture WLAN devices that may require drivers to function include ASUS™, Belkin™, Linksys™, D-Link™, and Netgear™.
Local area networks (LAN) can be either wired or wireless. In an LAN, a network hub connects multiple computers, allowing them to share data. Usually, these networks are based in a centralized location, with all computers that are connected to the LAN located nearby. Most wireless networks hubs handle both wired and wireless connections to multiple computers. In a LAN router, the WLAN driver is important because it allows the network administrator to configure security settings, user permissions, and passwords.
Some Internet Service Providers (ISP) block users from connecting more than one computer to the Internet by preventing multiple computer identification numbers, called Media Access Control (MAC) addresses, from connecting to the service. Many WLAN driver utility programs allow the user to set up a Media Access Control (MAC) address clone that bypasses the block to allow multiple computers to connect. The MAC address clone setting configures a WLAN access point so it broadcasts only one MAC address to the ISP no matter how many computers connect through the router. To the ISP, it appears that one computer is connecting to its service.
A WLAN driver disk is usually included with the wireless networking hardware when it is purchased. For some common wireless devices, the WLAN driver may already be installed with the computer operating system. If the driver disk is lost or the software becomes corrupt, updates or replacement downloads for the WLAN driver can usually be found in the driver downloads section of the manufacturer's website, often in the section dedicated to customer support.