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How do I install my wireless card?
Installing a PCI wireless card might seem like a bit of an adventure -- after all, you have to open the case, find where to put the thing, close it again... and then you have to deal with the software! Even if you've never opened your computer before, though, you shouldn't have too much trouble with it if you follow this simple 10 step guide.

Step 1: Look at the Manual. Yes, I know it seems like a dull thing to do, but you really need to at least skim the manual for things if you're going to go putting them in your computer. It's much better to do it now than to realise afterwards that you missed an essential step in the installation. A few cards, for example, require you to install the software before installing the card -- do this now if you need to.

Step 2: Switch the Computer Off. Before you even think about opening the computer, you've got to switch it off. You should use the 'Shut Down' option to make sure that the computer will start fresh next time, and wait for it to shut down completely.

Step 3: Unplug the Computer. To be safe, you should disconnect the computer from the power supply now. If there is anything connected to the computer, you should unplug that from the power too, as well as unplugging the wires from the back of the computer. If you're nervous that you won't remember which wire goes where when it's time to put them back again, you could draw a diagram before you start this step. Most modern computers have a matching color coding system on the rear panel. Pink goes to pink, green to green etc.

Step 4: Remove the Case. To avoid damaging your computer's parts or electrocuting yourself, you should be wearing an anti-static wristband (also known as a ground strap) whenever you open your computer. If you're not sure how to get the case off, consult your computer's manual. It's usually just a matter of unscrewing, though -- but make sure you keep the screws somewhere where they won't get lost.

Step 5: When the cover is removed, the first thing to do is to locate the PCI slots on your motherboard, different motherboards have different amounts of PCI slots, for example you may already have a PCI card installed, in which case just choose an empty slot to install your new PCI card. PCI slots are long, rectangular slots inside the computer. Some of the available PCI slots might be used by existing modems or Ethernet cards. If there's no space for your new wireless card, then you might need to remove some of this old equipment.

Step 6: Insert the PCI Card. If you're using a PCI slot that hasn't been used before, you'll need to unscrew the piece of metal filling the gap in the back of the computer created by there being no card there. Make sure you store this piece in a safe place, in case you ever need it again. When you insert the PCI card into the slot, do it as carefully as you can. Try not to touch any of the circuits on the card. Once it's in the slot, you will need to press firmly, but don't use too much force. You should also make sure that you point the wireless card's antenna upwards.

Step 7: Close the Case. Just do what you did in step 4 in reverse -- put it all back together.

Step 8: Plug In and Start. You need to plug your computer back in and start it. If you don't want to re-attach all your cables right now, you will at least need to plug in the keyboard, mouse and monitor. Many people are scared when they turn on their computer again after installing a PCI card and it doesn't work -- only to find that the error was caused by them not reconnecting their keyboard! When you reboot your machine Windows (or other OS) should find the card automatically, it will then prompt you for the driver disk/cd that came with your card, insert the CD and follow the on-screen instructions.

Step 9: Install Drivers and Software. Once the computer's done starting, it should notice it has some new hardware. This is when you should insert the CD that came with the card, and leave Windows to do its thing. If everything's gone to plan, the PCI card should be set up automatically. If things don't happen automatically, try inserting the CD before you panic.

Step 10: Configure Your Network. Your PCI wireless card gives your computer a permanent wireless connection. The first time you use it, you should be asked which wireless network you want to connect to. Choose your wireless network from the list, and you're ready to go!
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