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Installing a Wireless Adapter on Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit

June 7, 2011

I’m used to having a solid wireless connection from my Thinkpad laptop. But it’s been overheating and I need to send it in, so in the meantime I’ve been trying to find a decent wireless adapter for my desktop computer. After going through three adapters, I thought I’d share some lessons that would have saved me time beforehand. I finally ended up getting a Cisco Linksys WMP600N to work, but it was no small feat.

Look for the latest driver from the original manufacturer

Most wireless cards use the same chipset and the drivers on their installation CD may be outdated. This is especially important for me because I’m running a 64-bit version of the most recent Windows 7. Both the ASUS PCI-G31 and Linksys WMP600N cards I tried were manufactured by Ralink. The ASUS did not even pretend to connect until I installed the drivers from Ralink.

Make sure Windows is not installing its own default drivers

As if finding the right driver isn’t hard enough, Windows will install its own generic one for you as soon as the device gets recognized. You can check what driver is being used by looking up the Properties of your network card in the Device Manager. If it says “Microsoft” then you’ve been double-crossed.

To prevent Microsoft from installing generic drivers, follow these steps:

  • Go to Start–>Search type in gpedit.msc
  • Click the file to open the Local Group Policy Editor and show Windows who is in control!!
  • You want to go here: Computer Configuration->Administrative Templates->System->Device Installation. Click on the subfolder Device Installation on the left and on the right side you will see the possible restrictions.
  • Right Click on Prevent Installation of Devices not described by other policy settings and edit this option, set it on ENABLED.
    Reboot Windows and enjoy its inability to pollute your system with its standard driver, open gpedit.msc again and revert the change so you will be able to install your driver.

(Source: http://www.addictivetips.com/windows-tips/how-to-disable-automatic-driver-installation-in-windows-vista/)

Try installing the driver before the hardware

Sometimes you end up with driver bits left over after trying different sources. The best advice I found was to:

  1. Uninstall all drivers
  2. Unplug the network card
  3. Install the intended driver
  4. Plug in the card. Let Windows identify it. At this point, Windows used my drivers from Ralink instead of using its own.
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