The Basics of Networking--Wireless or Wired

Making a wired or wireless connection is easy in Windows

Boy and father networking
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Back in 2008 when this article was originally written, wireless networks were not, as they are now, found in every home, small business, coffee shop, hotel, fast food joint--you name it. But they were well on their way to getting there. 

Wireless networking your printer or scanner may sound difficult, but today's newer machines, especially wireless printers with their Wi-Fi Protected Setup, or WPS, are making it easier to do. With WPS, you simply press two buttons, one on the printer itself and one on the router. After you press them, the two devices, your printer, and your router find each other, shake hands, and connect, all within just a few seconds.​

Setting up a printer or a scanner without WPS" article isn't really all that difficult either. Besides, aside from the basic wired and wireless options, today's printers also come equipped with numerous mobile and cloud connectivity, such as Wi-Fi Direct, Near-Field Communications (NFC), printing from email and cloud sites, to name just a few.

Typically, in order for many of these mobile connectivity features to work, you must first establish a wireless connection between the printer and the mobile device in question. In other words, many of the mobile Internet features mentioned here won't work over USB wired connections, even though you can share the USB connection among multiple devices on the network, including other computers.

Windows 10

Even more good news is that networking a printer or scanner in the latest Windows OS, Windows 10, is much like performing the same task in Win 8.1 and earlier versions of Windows. Even so, I'll be adding a Windows 10 step-by-step very shortly. 

The first step is to get your home wireless network configured properly. Bradley Mitchell has a fantastic and easy-to-follow primer on networking that's a great place to start.

Microsoft also offers a handy tutorial on wireless networking basics that will help if you're using Windows. If you're using Vista and running into problems, troubleshooting guide will help.

If you're using Windows 7 and want to share a printer on a home network, follow the links at How to Share a Printer on a Home Network with Windows 7.

Next, learn more about the basics of wireless printing with a primer from Etan Horowitz of the Orlando Sentinel.

If you're trying to use a scanner that doesn't have a network card, you can find some useful software from Remote Scan.

If you're sure your printer is connected properly, and it still won't print, try troubleshooting the problem with our article: Why Won't My Printer Print?