Comcast Internet connections not only download applications and stream movies quickly on a single computer, but offer more than enough bandwidth to ensure speedy connections for additional computers as well. With a wireless router -- whether it be one you rent from Comcast or one you purchase on your own -- you can connect two or more desktop and laptop computers to a high-speed Internet connection -- as well as to each other, so that you can share files and devices between them -- without running cumbersome or unsightly network cables.
Install and Configure Wireless Router
Connect an RJ-45 Ethernet cable to the “LAN” port on the rear of the Comcast cable modem, then plug the other end into the “WAN” port on the wireless router.
Plug another Ethernet cable into the network port on the rear of the desktop computer, and connect the other end of the cable to “Port 1” on the wireless router. Power on the cable modem, Wi-Fi router and the desktop computer. Wait for the computer to boot and Windows to connect to the router and receive an IP address automatically.
Open a Web browser and type the IP address for the router's configuration login page. For most wireless routers, the default IP address to access the configuration page is “192.168.0.1” or “192.168.1.1.” Refer to the owner’s manual or user guide for the router if you are unsure of its default IP address. Enter the default admin username and password, then press “Enter” or click “Log In.”
Click the “Auto Setup,” “EZ-Install” or other similarly named button on the router control panel page to enter your Comcast account details. Follow the remaining prompts to connect the wireless router to a cable Internet connection.
Click “Wi-Fi Setup,” “Wireless Configuration” or a similar link. Enter a name for the wireless network in the “SSID” field.
Click the “Security” or “WEP” tab or link on the wireless configuration page, and select an encryption method for the network. For better security on the wireless network, choose 128-bit or even 256-bit WEP if the device supports it. Enter a WEP or Security key, or allow the router to generate a random key. Record the key so you can use it on wireless computers you connect to the router.
Click the “Save” or “Save Changes” link or button on the configuration page. Reboot the router and wait for it to restart.
Open a Web browser on the desktop computer and test the connection by surfing the Internet and opening a few Web pages. Disconnect the RJ-45 cable from the desktop computer and the wireless router.
Install a USB Wireless Adapter on the Desktop Computer
Insert the driver disc for the adapter into the CD/DVD drive and wait for the setup wizard to appear. In the Setup or Install window, click the “Install Driver” or “Setup Driver” link or button. Follow the remaining prompts to install the device driver for the USB wireless adapter, then reboot the computer if prompted.
Connect the USB wireless adapter to an empty USB port on the computer.
Click “OK” if Windows prompts you to confirm that you want to install the device using an unsigned driver. Otherwise, wait a few seconds for Windows to recognize the network adapter and configure it with the driver you installed from the installation CD.
Connect the Computers to the Wi-Fi Router
Click the “Wireless Radio Signal” icon in the Windows Quick Launch tray to the left of the current date and time. A popup window appears and displays local wireless networks within range of the USB wireless adapter. If your wireless router is the only one within range of the adapter, it will be the only one on the list. If two or more networks appear in the list, click and highlight the SSID name you entered in the wireless router configuration settings.
Click the “Connect” button in the wireless connection window. Wait a few seconds for Windows to prompt you to enter the WEP or Security key. Enter the same key you entered in the configuration settings, or enter the one that the router generated.
Click the “Connect” button again, then wait for Windows to connect to the wireless router and receive an IP address. Open your Web browser and surf the Internet as you normally would.
Power on the laptop and log in to Windows. Press the appropriate button or hotkeys on the keyboard to power on the wireless adapter if it does not turn on automatically.
Click the “Wireless Radio Signal” icon in the Quick Launch tray, select the SSID for the wireless router and connect to the network. Enter the password or key when prompted, then surf the Internet on the laptop normally.
Share Files and Printers Between the Computers Over the Wireless Network
Click “Start,” then “Computer” on your desktop machine. Click the “System Properties” button in Windows Explorer.
Click “Advanced System Settings” underneath the Control Panel Home header in the “View basic information about your computer” window. After the System Properties window appears, click the “Computer Name” tab.
Ensure that the “Workroup” value reads “WORKGROUP.” Alternatively, click the “Network ID” button and change the default name for the local workgroup. Click “Apply,” then “OK” in the System Properties window. If you change the workgroup name, reboot the computer when Windows prompts you to do so.
Go to the laptop computer and ensure that the Workgroup name in the System Properties window matches the workgroup name on the desktop computer. Reboot the computer if it does not match.
Return to the desktop computer. Click “Start | Control Panel | Network and Sharing Center | Choose Homegroup and Sharing Options | Create a Homegroup,” then select libraries on the desktop you want to share with the laptop. Click “Next.”
Record the Homegroup password and click the “Finish” button.
Go to the laptop computer and click “Start | Control Panel | Network and Sharing Center | Choose Homegroup and Sharing Options | Join Now.”
Select libraries you want to share with the desktop computer, then click “Next.” Enter the Homegroup password in the “Type the homegroup password” window, then click “Next.”
Click “Finish” after Windows joins the laptop to the homegroup and configures network settings. You can now print to shared printers on the desktop computer or transfer shared library files between the two machines in Windows Explorer.
- If you don’t have a wireless adapter for the desktop computer, leave the RJ-45 cable connected to the PC and the router.
- If the wireless signal in your home is weak, you can improve browsing and file transfer speeds over the network by connecting both computers to the wired LAN ports on the Wi-Fi router with RJ-45 Ethernet cables. Even laptops with integrated wireless adapters usually include a LAN port for such connections. If you connect the laptop to the wireless router with an RJ-45 cable, Windows connects to the router and receives an IP address just as it would when connecting via a wireless connection.
Items you will need
- USB wireless adapter
- 2 RJ-45 cables
- PCMag.com: The Fastest ISPs in the U.S. 2011
- Comcast: High Speed Internet Service
- Microsoft at Home: 5 Steps - How to Set Up Your Home Wireless Network
- Netgear: Wireless Router Setup Manual
- Comcast: Connect to the Internet Using Your Router
- Columbia University: Linksys WRT54G Wireless-G Broadband Router Setup
- Microsoft Windows: Create a Homegroup
- Microsoft Windows: Join a Homegroup
- Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images