Networking allows two or more computers to interface with each other, whether in an office, a library or other type of establishment, or at home. Running cables throughout an office or a house can be tedious and time-consuming, however, making wireless networking — a network of interfaced computers that doesn't require any hardwired connection between the computers — preferable for many businesses and homes.
Wireless networking has many uses. In an office or place of business, it makes it easy to share files, printers, and Internet access between all of the computers. Home or in a home office networks can enable users to print a file from a laptop without having to go to the printer and hook up to it. These networks also means that individuals can take their laptops to places that offer free WiFi®, known as "hotspots," and instantly connect to the Internet — a valuable tool for businesspeople, entrepreneurs, and students.
For a network to be wireless, all computers connected to it must have a wireless card. It is virtually the same thing as wireless Internet access, except instead of connecting to the Internet, the user is connecting to another computer. Computers that can already access the Internet wirelessly can usually be set up to connect to each other just as easily. Many newer laptops on the market come fully equipped for wireless networking, and a consumer can buy a wireless card to upgrade a computer if it doesn't already have this capability.
There are several different kinds of wireless cards available. The first cards on the market were 802.11b, but the standard was eventually upgraded to 802.11g. The latter type of card, being the newest, also has the fastest data transfer, making it the obvious choice for anyone who is serious about wireless connections.
Wireless networking and wireless Internet access may seem dangerous to some people. If the channel is left open, anyone can log on to the network; once on the network, that person could hack into one of the other computers, easily locating personal files containing sensitive information. What many people don't realize is that wireless networks come with security features that can be set up to protect against such an event. One, called a WEP key, is essentially a password that is required before a computer can sign on to the network, preventing any unauthorized use. People who are unsure of how to set up this feature can call the provider of the wireless service or the manufacturer of the wireless modem or router for help.