802.11a/b/g (WiFi) Compliant Network Interface Card




  1. To check and see if you already have a wireless card installed on a Windows machine
  2. Installation of Network Interface Cards (NIC) using PCMCIA version 2 or version 3
  3. Trouble-shooting tips: wireless adapters


Note: A number of systems now being delivered are shipped with built-in wireless capability. Before going to the Campus Computer Store (located at the Bookstore in the University Centre), check your machine specifications and add-ons in order to ensure that you do not already have integrated WiFi. If you need to install a NIC (Network Interface Card) there are different variations of wireless NICs available in the marketplace.

To check and see if you already have a wireless card installed on a Windows machine

If you are using Windows XP Pro:

  • Click on Start, All Programs, right click on My Computer and choose Properties.
  • Click on the Hardware tab then click on Device Manger.
  • Expand the list of Network Adapters by clicking on the + sign. You should see a listing for a wireless card there if your laptop already has one installed. For example the message displayed will be something like “Intel Wireless WiFi link 4965AGN”.

In order to determine which type of Wireless NIC to use, you will need to know if your computer has a PCMCIA slot or a CardBus slot, whether your computer already has a wireless interface built in or whether you might benefit from a wireless USB connected device. Having a wireless card installed in one of the system CardBus slots or having a USB wireless interface essentially replaces the need for a PCMCIA slot.

If you cannot find an integrated wireless adapter and you have a laptop, you will have two options available. One uses a PCMCIA slot on your computer. For this you'll need to know if it is a PCMCIA version 2 or version 3 slot. Check the manual or with the manufacturer of your laptop or notebook for this information. PCMCIA card slots are laptop associated methods of expanding the capability and functionality of the laptop.

A second option is to use one of the USB ports on your computer and install an externally mounted wireless interface adapter. This method will also require the installation of software drivers in order to make your wireless adapter available. These software drivers are traditionally shipped with the device or as a minimum with instructions in order to download the drivers.

Installation of Network Interface Cards (NIC) using PCMCIA version 2 or version 3:

Installation instructions for network interface cards vary depending on the brand and operating system being used. It's always best to refer to the instruction booklet that comes with the NIC for specific instructions.

  • Locate the PCMCIA or CardBus slot on your laptop and gently push the card in. Usually the side with the brand name faces up.
  • Turn on the laptop and allow it to boot normally into Windows.
  • Install the software drivers. Your NIC should have come with a CD containing the software drivers for your operating system.
  • Once the drivers are installed, reboot your system.
  • Locate the new icon that was created on your desktop. The name will depend on what brand of card you've installed (i.e. D-Link, Assante, SMC, etc…). If it doesn't appear on the desktop, look for it in your Programs list.
  • From a wireless access area, run this software and make sure it sees the network "uOttawa".

Trouble-shooting Tips: Wireless Adapters

  • Does Windows see the card properly in the Device Manager?
  • Is the NIC inserted into the slot properly?
      • Usually brand name side is up (PCMCIA and USB
      • It should be secure in the slot (will not slide out if laptop is tilted sideways)
    • The lights on the card should be on or flashing
  • Make sure that the latest drivers are installed.
    • Check the NIC manufacturer's website for the latest drivers available for your operating system.
  • NIC still isn't working?
    • Uninstall the drivers, restart the computer, and try installing the drivers again.
  • If you are receiving an error message:
  • Make sure your browser is NOT configured to use a proxy server.
  • Release and renew the IP address
  • If after doing all of the above Windows Device Manager still does not recognize the NIC, and you still cannot access the wireless network, refer to the Support page below or return to the vendor for hardware support. 


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Last updated: 2013.10.31