Buying the Right USB Wi-Fi Adapter/Dongle for Your Operating System

Like if this guide is helpful
Buying the Right USB Wi-Fi Adapter/Dongle for Your Operating System

USB Wi-Fi adapters are newer to the market and more convenient than other outdated connectors. The old ones used to be a card that would connect directly to the motherboard, whereas the USB ones simply plug into the port and do not require any installation or setup.

Because wireless Internet is available in so many places like book shops, coffee shops, and many restaurants, people need ways to connect to it so that they can enjoy the portability of their laptops or tablets. The majority of the laptops and tablets come with their own Wi-Fi features so no additional equipment has to be purchased. However, many older models do not have this capability and it is common for the feature to break on newer devices as well. When there is no way to connect to the Internet other than an ethernet cable, users have to find another solution for their Internet needs.

USB adapters work similarly to the built-in mechanisms that connect to the Internet and they replace the ethernet cable connection. Using a physical cable to connect a computer to the Internet means that people cannot move their computer out of the house or around the home without moving all of the wires with them. So when there is no other way to connect to the wireless router, a USB adapter is the best, and most convenient option.

Benefits of USB Wi-Fi Adapters and Dongles

Using a Wi-Fi connection has freed people up and given them the option of moving their computers and devices around anywhere that Internet is available. Sometimes people find it nice to be able watch TV while multitasking and with a computer on their lap. Others like to go enjoy a nice cup of coffee or tea while working on their school or work projects. No matter what people's daily routines are, a wireless connection gives them the freedom to go wherever they please.

Another advantage of having a USB adapter is that some homes and offices are not wired for ethernet connections. If this is the case, desktops that do not come with a wireless capability are left in the dust. However, with the help of a USB adapter, they can have access to the Internet no matter what building or room they are located in.

USB Wi-Fi Adapters and Dongles Considerations

While the wireless network is fast, located nearly everywhere, and easy to use, it is not perfect and comes with some potential dangers. Wireless signals are transmitted much like radio signals are. Any data that is being sent over the air can be picked intercepted and deciphered by those who have the right kind of equipment. Since anyone can access public networks that people connect to at airports, restaurants, and other similar places, there is a risk the computer being hacked or ending up with a virus. Not only this, but it is possible to steal personal information over a wireless network as well.

Networks with passwords are far more safe than open ones. However, hackers can still often get onto the network even if it is password protected. There are a number of ways to help protect a computer against invasion from an outside source. First, install a good anti-virus software that can block viruses. Second, increase the firewall protection to prevent outside people from accessing the computers. Third, when at home decrease the range of the router. For example, some people have Internet that their neighbours can readily access. Reduce how far the signal reaches to make it harder for others to tap into it. These are not failsafe methods, but they will block minor attacks.

Types of USB Wi-Fi Adapter/Dongles

Wireless USB adapters are easy to shop for because there are not a lot of options to choose from. It is really only their specifications that they vary in. Each one has different data transfer speeds, varying levels of security, ease of installation, as well as help and support availability from the manufacturer.

The speed of the data transfer is rated in GHz. The highest rating currently available for USB adapters and dongles is 5HGz. The top ten brands below have the following speed, data transfer ratings, and security ratings.

USB Brand and Model

Transfer Speed

Data Transfer Rate Per Second

Security

Cisco Linksys AE100

5GHz

300 Mb

Excellent

TRENDnet TEW-664UB

5GHz

300 Mb

High

D-Link DWA-160 Xtreme N

5GHz

300 Mb

High

Netgear RangeMax WNDA 3100

5GHz

300 Mb

High

Cisco Valet Connector AM10

2.4 GHz

300 Mb

High

Belkin Wireless N+

2.4 GHz

300 Mb

Average

Buffalo Nfiniti WLI-UC-G300HP

2.4 GHz

300 Mb

Average

Zonet ZEW2546

2.4 GHz

300 Mb

Average

Hawking Technology HWUN3

2.4 GHz

150 Mb

Low to Average

ZyXEL NWD270N

2.4 GHz

150 Mb

Low to Average

USB Wi-Fi adapters are usually installed with a CD Rom that uploads the software to the computer. The Cisco Valet Connector AM10 is the only USB out of the top ten that has the software installed internally. This means that users can simply plug in the device and start using it immediately.

However, the ten models do vary in their levels of support that their manufacturers offer and the lengths of the guarantees that they come with.

USB Brand and Model

Phone Support

E-Mail Support

Live Chat Support

Guarantee

Cisco Linksys AE100

Yes

Yes

Yes

1 Year

TRENDnet TEW-664UB

Yes

Yes

Yes

3 Years

D-Link DWA-160 Xtreme N

Yes

Yes

No

1 Year

Netgear RangeMax WNDA 3100

Yes

Yes

No

1 Year

Cisco Valet Connector AM10

Yes

Yes

Yes

1 Year

Belkin Wireless N+

Yes

Yes

Yes

Lifetime

Buffalo Nfiniti WLI-UC-G300HP

Yes

Yes

No

2 Years

Zonet ZEW2546

Yes

Yes

No

1 Year

Hawking Technology HWUN3

Yes

Yes

No

1 Year

ZyXEL NWD270N

Yes

Yes

No

2 Years

The next difference between the tem adapters is the operating system that they work on. Not all are set up to work on all of the PC and Mac computers.

USB Brand and Model

Windows 7

Windows Vista

Windows XP

Mac OS X

Cisco Linksys AE100

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

TRENDnet TEW-664UB

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

D-Link DWA-160 Xtreme N

No

Yes

Yes

No

Netgear RangeMax WNDA 3100

No

Yes

Yes

No

Cisco Valet Connector AM10

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Belkin Wireless N+

No

Yes

Yes

No

Buffalo Nfiniti WLI-UC-G300HP

No

Yes

Yes

No

Zonet ZEW2546

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Hawking Technology HWUN3

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

ZyXEL NWD270N

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

It may be confusing trying to figure out which USB Wi-Fi adapter to select, but the process can be made simple by looking at these four items on the product specifications.

  • See how fast the device is by looking at its speed measured in GHz.
  • Look at its data transfer rate. Currently the highest is 300 Mbps.
  • Read about its security rating.
  • Look up reviews that past customers have given.

Shop for USB WI-Fi Adapters and Dongles on eBay

One way to make the research process easier is by using eBay. They have thousands of products listed by all kinds of sellers from companies to private citizens. By going onto a website where you can view and compare all the brands and models side by side, you can easily figure out which ones have the best specifications at the lowest price. Simply enter "USB Wi-Fi adapter" into the eBay search bar to get started. If you already have a particular brand in mind, you can search for something like "Belkin Wireless USB adapter" or "Cisco Linksys USB adapter".

Since there are thousands of USB adapters listed, you can make the search process easier by adding the devices you want to look at further into your Watch List. By doing this, you can access all the items you added at a later time by going into your My eBay page. You can then compare specifications and prices side by side.

However, do not forget to read the seller's reviews to make sure that they offer excellent customer service and that their products are well liked by their buyers. Also be sure to see if the seller offers refunds for any product that arrives damaged or non-functioning.

Conclusion

The technology of wireless networking has spread from homes to offices to businesses. People now find that they can connect at airports, doctors' offices, hotels, and many other convenient locations. Although it does come with its risks, the general population has become accustomed to having access to Internet nearly anywhere they go.

However, not everyone has the ability to connect to the networks at all these different places. Even connecting in their own home can be a problem if there is no ethernet cable port. For those who need a new solution, USB wireless adapters and dongles are the way to go. They are small, portable, and very easy to setup and use. The best part is that they are affordable and shopping for them is not difficult for those who know what specifications to look for. The data transfer speed, security, and guarantees are critical things to look for. However, not everyone needs the top-of-the-line capabilities if they are only using their computers for basic things like e-mail and web browsing.

Have something to share, create your own guide... Write a guide
Explore more guides