How Does a Wi-Fi Adapter Work?

One of the primary accessories of a computer is a Wi-Fi adapter. The Wi-Fi adapter is a small device when we look and feel, but it serves a great purpose on the computer. When we understand things in detail, then we can conclude whether or not it is best for us. Right?

Here on this page, I’m going to tell you about the working of a Wi-Fi adapter on a computer. And how are the internet signals processing around us?

how does a wi-fi adapter work
how does a Wi-Fi adapter work

First, you need to know the meaning of a Wi-Fi adapter and what it is doing on a computer.

What is a Wi-Fi adapter?

The Wi-Fi adapter is nothing but a wireless internet connecting device on the computer. Based on the type of adapter and its version, the internet speed we get from the Wi-Fi adapter is anywhere between 11MB to 1GB per second. The latest version of Wi-Fi adapter 802.11ac can provide high-speed (1GBPS) internet to the computer.

The Wi-Fi adapters are also called Network Interface Cards. These cards are classified into 5 types based on the ports they have.

  • Ethernet
  • PCI card
  • PCIe card
  • Mini PCI
  • Wi-Fi adapter

We can discuss each type of these adapters in detail in another article. Now, we will see how the network adapters or Wi-Fi adapters are working.

Wi-Fi adapter working –

The Wi-Fi adapter working is a simple thing once you understand what’s happening inside the mini device. I want you to know what type of signals the Wi-Fi adapter can use to transfer data from one device to another.

The Wi-Fi adapter can send and receive the data as Ultra High-Frequency radio waves at the frequency of 2.4GHz. The small device in the adapter called the antenna helps to convert the signal and make communication possible between the devices.

If you don’t understand the thing yet, I do not blame you because when you hear the terms ‘Hz’, ‘frequency’, and ‘antenna’ for the first time, it is difficult to understand the whole concept at once. But, here I can explain things as best as I can.

First, you need to know about the radio waves. The radio wave or signal is a type of signal through which data transmission is possible between the devices. For example, the radio signal is like a language. We use language to communicate, whether it is English, Hindi, Chinese, or another.

Just like radio waves, we have other types of signals in the radio spectrum. The language will change when we go to another country. Likely, the type of signal will change when the frequency changes.

Here, NASA explains the radio spectrum. Have a look at it.

Now you know how the antenna in the USB adapter connects your device to the network. But how will the antenna get the power to work? This is exactly the place where the type of port is considerable.

The Wi-Fi adapter comes with a USB port. The monitor on a computer will display the output signal and, like this, the USB port has its own functionality.

The operating volts of the USB device must be compatible with the antenna power used. So they designed it with a combination of both the USB port and the antenna. Hence, the Wi-Fi adapter with the USB port is formed.

Here I can’t discuss the USB and the pins in it. But definitely, I will write a piece of article about it. If you want to know more about the USB types and their working, click here.

Wi-Fi adapter data transmission speed

As I said before, we have 5 types of Network Interface Cards including a Wi-Fi adapter.

The ethernet port with a wired internet connection is best among all these. Why? Because it gives a high-speed internet connection to your computer. But the drawback is you can’t use this port or wire connection wherever you need it.

The rest of the devices have some pros and cons, but among all these, the Wi-Fi adapter with 802.11ac can work best for both wireless and high-speed connections. It can transfer the data at both 2.4GHz and 5GHz and the high-speed data transmission is 1GB per second.

Wi-Fi data protection

The wireless network connection is easy to use, but without security, it is not the best way to go through. Why? Let’s say when you connect your computer to the internet using the Wi-Fi adapter, the data on your computer might change by downloading files from the web or uploading them to it.

Here communication occurs between the computer and the network of computers. If the signal is not protected with a password, then everyone on the web should be able to listen to it.

In such cases, you lose your data or privacy. A while back, I lost all the data on my computer because of a ransomware virus. With a Ransomware attack, you lose all your data.

The Wi-Fi network uses protocols like WEP, WPA, WPA-2, and WPA-3 to encrypt the data transmission between the devices. So there is no chance of losing your data, but this can happen only when you set a password to your connection. These network protocols can work for both 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies.

On a Windows computer, you’ll see a note whenever you want to connect to the new network. It will ask you whether the new network belongs to the public or private. The public networks in cafes and restaurants have restrictions on accessing data on your computer, but private networks like home or office don’t.

Don’t trust the public network if it doesn’t have password security. However, if you want to use it, then at least set the network property to ‘public‘ on your PC.


Hope you find this information about the Wi-Fi adapter working helpful. Here are some helpful articles you can go through.