What Is A Wireless Adapter, It's Benefits And Things To Look For
(Last Updated On: February 16, 2018)

Wireless connectivity has become a very important part in our lives today and wireless internet connectivity or also known as Wi-Fi connectivity has been integrated into our lives. Without a wireless routers and adapters in both transmitting side and the receiving side the wireless connectivity will not be possible. Wi-Fi connectivity has brought us much convenience as we can access the Internet from practically anywhere. Public access points have allowed for our devices to be connected to the Internet even when we are not at home. If we look at the routers that are being used today you will find single band, dual band and newly introduced tri band routers in the market with the tri band routers being the most efficient and powerful of the three. Now on the receiving side devices must have an adapter either built in to them or externally connected on them to be able to receive signals from the wireless routers. The most commonly used external Wi-Fi adapters are based on the USB connectivity and are known as USB Wi-Fi Adapters.

History of Wi-Fi

If we look briefly into the history of Wi-Fi we will find that the term Wi-Fi wasn’t made popular until the late 90s and the initial wireless internet was creation of the ruling of FCC in 1985, AT&T was the first company to formally use the wireless technology in their cash register system but was not very refined and proved to be a not complete success due to the signal reception was unclear due to the signals being bounced off of objects. Further down the line this technology was refined and the signal problem was rectified in early 90s by an Australian company and they filed the patent for the wireless technology along with their improved version.

Now by the time wireless technology was up and running it further took couple of decades to deepen it’s roots within our society as the necessity of every human and now we see Wi-Fi being used by almost everyone frequently during the course of one day.

What is a Wireless Adapter?

Now onto our topic, wireless adapter. Now if you are wondering what is a wireless adapter? We will explain it to you in very easy terms. Suppose you have a Computer or a Laptop which doesn’t have the capability of wireless connectivity or the already integrated wireless connectivity hardware has come across some kind of fault or has stopped functioning, then you need a wireless adapter. Why? Well if you already have wireless capability on your Computer or Laptop it is because of an wireless adapter which has a radio antenna which receives the wireless signals from your wireless router. Now when you want wireless capability on your laptop or your computer whether as a replacement to the previous wireless adapter which cease to function or your device did not have any wireless adapter to start with, either way you will need to get a peripheral USB Wi-Fi Adapter which will connect to your device’s USB port and receive the wireless signals from the wireless router.

Benefits of USB Wireless (Wi-Fi) Adapter

  • Eliminate Use of Wires

If you have a desktop Personal Computer than hardwiring your PC to the wireless router for an Internet connection is a daunting task since your wireless router is placed in such a place that the whole house gets the maximum physical coverage and if your PC will most probably be very far away from the wireless router and using a wireless adapter will rid you of that headache of hardwiring your connection to the PC. If you are using a Laptop and you want it to have the capability to connect to your wireless router without the need for wires then USB Wi-Fi adapter will do the job and it will preserve the portability and mobility of the Laptop.

You can always use your laptop in public places as there are public Wi-Fi networks that are convenient to use when you are outside of your home but we don’t recommend using open Wi-Fi networks that are available publicly because they present security vulnerabilities. So always use password protected networks to connect to the Internet.

  • No Need to Install Internal Hardware

If you have a PC in your home and it already has integrated wireless adapter that has come across some kind of fault and it is not functioning at all or isn’t functioning properly you would first think of replacing the wireless adapter by purchasing one similar to that. Even though it is a good idea but most of the people don’t know how to install a wireless adapter even if they do somehow figure it out how then there is a chance that you can damage other components while trying to fix one. So USB based wireless adapters provide a simple solution that doesn’t require you to disassemble your PC’s motherboard and go into technical details of every slot to figure out replacing a wireless adapter.

And that goes for the Laptop as well, if your Laptop’s wireless adapter has stopped functioning and needs a new wireless adapter you will probably open up the casing of the Laptop and you will find that components in a Laptop are much more compact and stuffed than that of PC’s. And if you do damage any component of Laptop while the whole DIY wireless adapter replacement process you will also come to know that Laptop’s components are way more expensive than that of the Personal Computer. So it’s a smart move to have a USB Wi-Fi adapter for your laptop which will work perfectly well without you even noticing it’s even there or not.

And another thing you have to keep in mind that components of PCs and Laptops do tend to go bad and are useless when that does happen. Your computer or laptop can function without a wireless adapter but the other components in there such as Hard Disk Drives, Graphic Cards and the Motherboard itself are crucial so don’t put those components at risk when you don’t know what you’re doing when you decide to replace wireless adapter yourself out of the blue.

  • No Need to Upgrade Current Computer

If your PC or Laptop did not come with a integrated wireless adapter and it still works perfectly fine you still don’t have to throw your old machine out. There are scenarios that people have precious data in their computers and laptops and transferring them is a task itself. There are scenarios where you don’t want to waste your money on a new PC or Laptop when the one you have is fulfilling your needs since upgrading can be costly.

The answer to that problem is a USB Wi-Fi adapter. You can use the USB wireless adapter even when you have a perfectly working built-in wireless adapter. There is a good reason for that too. You will notice that upgrading your internet subscription is not doing very much to increase your Internet speed and even buying a new wireless router is not doing much either. There is a reason behind that and that reason is the non compatibility of your outdated wireless adapter standard and the latest wireless standard on your wireless router. So getting a USB Wi-Fi adapter which supports newer wireless standards will solve the compatibility issue between the wireless router and the wireless adapter and you can disable the old built-in wireless adapter in your Laptop or your PC and enjoy the high speed internet that you are paying for.

  • Multiple Device Usage

The benefit of using a USB Wi-Fi Adapter is that it is versatile and can be used on any computer or laptop that has a USB port and as we all know there is hardly and Laptop or Computer in the market available today that doesn’t have a USB port. It’s as simple as it gets you just unplug the wireless adapter from the USB port and you can plug it into either Mac based or Windows based laptops or PCs on the condition that the manufacturer of the USB Wi-Fi adapter has provided the drivers for Mac OS or Windows OS. They are mostly Plug & Play and once you plug the adapter in the USB port the drivers are automatically detected and installed. You can carry the USB Wi-Fi adapter anywhere and attach it to any machine and surf the web.

We recommend that you don’t leave the USB Wi-Fi adapter plugged in because any accidental pressure or push can lead to the damage of USB port or any component within your PC or Laptop, when you are done using the Laptop or your Computer it’s better to unplug the USB Wi-Fi adapter.

What to Look for in a USB Wi-Fi Adapter?

So when you decide to buy a USB Wi-Fi adapter you have to look for certain things or consider few factors that can lead to you making a better choice and a helpful advice can never be harmful.

  • Wireless Standard

So the first thing you should consider when selecting a USB Wi-Fi Adapter is the wireless standard, now wireless standards directly impact your Internet speeds and if you end up buying a wireless adapter with outdated or old wireless standard you will have to make an upgrade within few weeks or days as soon as you realize that you messed up. So it’s better to check which wireless standard is the latest because a new one comes out every year or two. As of this writing you will be able to find 802.11ac based USB Wi-Fi adapter easily and that is the latest wireless standard being used. 802.11ad is also slowly making it way into the wireless router scene but that is no practical implementation of 802.11ad speeds but if you do decide to get a wireless adapter which supports 802.11ad protocol you will be future proofing your wireless adapter and it’s not a bad thing.

  • USB Wi-Fi (Wireless) Adapter Range

Now if you have your wireless router placed far away from the computer you will be using USB Wi-Fi adapter on then you should be concerned with the range of the wireless adapter you are going to buy. Now there will be two types of adapter that you will find in the market both of them are pictured below.

mini usb wi-fi adapterusb wi-fi adapter



         (A)                                                      (B)

The wireless adapter (A) is your typically purchased Wi-Fi adapter because of it’s discrete small design and it doesn’t get in the way but the thing is that this (A) wireless adapter doesn’t provide the best range and if your wireless router is in another room you will not get the best results out of this (A) type of adapter.

The wireless adapter (B) is large in size compared to the other adapter (A) but it provides the best range and can receive signals from farther distance compared to the other wireless adapter (A).

  • Warranty

Before finalizing on the model of the USB wireless adapter you should see if the manufacturer provides a warranty on the product because the thing with technology related products is that they are not perfect and if you do happen to get a bad unit you should be able to get it replaced free of cost and your money doesn’t go to waste. It’s a useful tip based on personal experiences.


The conclusion to this publication is this, that USB Wireless Adapter is a very useful peripheral device to have and is a very budget friendly and convenient solution to the problem every laptop or computer owner faces and that is something just cease to function in just a blink and that something happens to be your laptop’s or computer’s built-in wireless adapter. Well if you end up in that situation then this publication will surely help you make a good purchase when it comes to USB Wi-Fi Adapters.

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