The Best 11 Wi Fi Sticks For Your Computer

USB Wi-Fi Sticks for Desktops and Laptops

Wirelessly on the Internet, thanks to Smartphone, Tablets and more, we are already used to this standard today. But what if an older computer can only be connected to the Internet by cable? In these cases, a WLAN stick helps. The WLAN Stick also equips devices that are not WLAN-capable with an appropriate receiver and makes it very easy to integrate them into the wireless radio network. So even when using older PCs are no annoying cables in the way and devices that already have a WLAN module with outdated standard, can gain significantly through a WLAN stick speed.

In our detailed guide you will learn everything you need to know about the Wi-Fi stick. What about the WLAN standards, which encryption is up-to-date, how fast should the WLAN stick be and what is the difference between a USB stick, a WLAN stick and a Surf Stick?

1. USB 3.0 WLAN AC1200 dual band network adapter

CSL - USB 3.0 SuperSpeed Wireless AC1200 Dual Band network...

CSL - USB 3.0 SuperSpeed Wireless AC1200 Dual Band network...

Key Spec:
  • Model name: Wireless AC1200 Dual Band USB 3.0 SuperSpeed Network Adapter / Adaptor / Dongle
  • Use: Powerful Wireless / WiFi AC1200 Dual-Band USB 3.0 network adapter with 2 high performance antennas provides a long range and high-speed data transfer rates to...
  • Wireless Standard: 802.11a, 802.11ac, 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n | Operating modes: Access Point + Client | PowerLine Data Rate: 300 Mbps at 2.4Ghz, 867Mbps at 5 GHz...
  • Operating element: WPS configuration | Chipset: Realtek RTL8812AU | Transmission technology / Host Interface: cordless | Frequency band 2.4 / 5 GHz | Wireless...
  • Compatible: Microsoft Windows XP / Vista / 7 / 8 / 8.1 / 10 / 11 + MAC ! Only compatible with MAC version 10.6 - 10.12.3 ! | Dimensions: 2.7cm x 9.25cm x 1.5cm...

Last update on 2023-10-17 / Affiliate links, Images and descriptions from Amazon Product Advertising

The USB 3.0 Wireless AC1200 Dual Band Network Adapter provides a very fast ac 1200 WLAN with the latest 802.11 ac WLAN standard. It can operate in both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequency bands and can reach speeds of up to 867 Mbps over the 5 GHz band and 300 Mbps over the 2.4 GHz band. It lets you watch HD quality video streams, play online games, use VoIP telephony, or download content.
The USB 3.0 Wi-Fi AC1200 Dual Band Network Adapter is equipped with two detachable high-performance antennas for very fast data transfer rates and long range. The WLAN Stick is compatible with the operating systems Windows and Mac OS and offers different encryption standards for a secure WLAN.

2. TP-Link TL-WN821N WiFi USB Adapter

Great Price
TP-LINK TL-WN821N 300Mbps Wireless N USB Adapter

TP-LINK TL-WN821N 300Mbps Wireless N USB Adapter

Key Spec:
  • MIMO technology with stronger signal penetration strength and wider wireless coverage provide better performance and stability
  • Easy wireless security encryption at a push of the WPS button
  • N speed brings fine experience for HD video streaming or internet calls

Last update on 2023-10-29 / Affiliate links, Images and descriptions from Amazon Product Advertising

The TP-Link TL-WN821N WLAN USB Adapter offers up to 300 Mbps and the WLAN standard n everything you need for video streaming in HD quality and Internet telephony. Even online games can be played smoothly with the stick.
The Multiple Antenna MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output) provides optimal performance and stability with broader Wi-Fi coverage and better signal penetration. The TP-Link TL-WN821N Wi-Fi USB Adapter supports Windows and Mac OS and provides secure Wi-Fi encryption by simply pressing the QSS button.

3. WiFi Adapter WLAN Stick USB FokTech

Great Price
Foktech Wifi Dongle, AC600 802.11ac Dual Band 5GHz Mini...

Foktech Wifi Dongle, AC600 802.11ac Dual Band 5GHz Mini...

Key Spec:
  • Works with Any WiFi Routers: By using the AC600 USB WiFI adapter, you can upgrade your PC,laptop or Mac to work with the latest AC WiFi router for faster speed and...
  • Ultra-fast wireless adapter speed with the newest 802.11ac wifi technology: Maximum speed up to 433Mbps on 5GHz or 150Mbps on 2.4GHz . Ideal for streaming, gaming,...
  • USB Wifi Adapter Support Operation System: Windows 11/10/8/7/Vista/XP/2000, Mac OS X 10.9-10.15, Not support Linux.
  • Easy to use: Before plugging the wireless network adapter into the usb port, please FIRST install drivers via MINI CD disc, or download driver from...
  • Super mini size: Compact design usb wifi adapter for easy carrying, and you can leave it in your Laptop or PC and no need to remove.

Last update on 2023-12-07 / Affiliate links, Images and descriptions from Amazon Product Advertising

The WiFi Adapter WLAN Stick USB Moglor offers Wi-Fi speeds of up to 600 Mbps and can be used in both the 2.4 GHz band and the 5 GHz band. It works with the latest WLAN standard ac and offers particularly good and reliable performance without jerking and freezing.
Under Windows 10, the Wi-Fi adapter WLAN Stick USB Moglor works quite simply via Plug & Play. For all other operating systems, it can be easily set up via a driver CD. The WiFi Adapter WLAN Stick USB Moglor is compatible with the operating systems Windows XP, VISTA, 7, 8 and 10, with Mac OS X 10.4-10.11 and 10.12 and with Linux 2.4 and 2.6 and covers almost all operating systems. The stick is very small and can be easily taken and it must not be removed from the PC or laptop when not in use.

4. HANPURE Wifi USB Adapter

HANPURE WiFi Stick 1200 Mbps Dual Band Wireless USB Stick...

HANPURE WiFi Stick 1200 Mbps Dual Band Wireless USB Stick...

Key Spec:

Last update on 2023-10-17 / Affiliate links, Images and descriptions from Amazon Product Advertising

The HANPURE Wifi USB Adapter provides high speeds of up to 1200 Mbps and can be used for both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz connections. It is ideal for streaming HD videos and for online gaming as well as for downloading music, games or videos.
The HANPURE Wifi USB Adapter is suitable for the latest WLAN standard ac and therefore offers very high speeds. The WLAN stick is compatible with Windows, Linux and Mac OS and ensures high data security among other things by WPA and WPA2 encryptions. It has ventilation for quick heat distribution, increasing its life, and an LED indicator flashes during data transmission. The small Wi-Fi stick can be easily put into the bag and is so everywhere with it.

5. TP-Link TL-WN823N N300 WiFi Stick

Great Price
TP-Link 300Mbps Mini Wireless N USB WiFi Adapter, ideal for...

TP-Link 300Mbps Mini Wireless N USB WiFi Adapter, ideal for...

Key Spec:
  • 300 Mbps wireless High-Speed Performance - ideal Wi-Fi dongle for smooth HD video, voice streaming and online gaming
  • Mini-sized USB wireless adapter and easy unplugged design for convenient portability with a reliable high performance
  • Soft AP mode - turns a wired internet connection to a PC or Laptop into a Wi-Fi hotspot
  • One button security setup - Easily setup a secure wireless connection with one-touch WPS button
  • Supports Windows 10/8.1/8/7/XP, Mac OS, Linux

Last update on 2023-11-26 / Affiliate links, Images and descriptions from Amazon Product Advertising

The TP-Link TL-WN823N N300 WLAN Stick offers a WLAN speed of 300 Mbps. The setup is easy and comfortable by pressing the WPS button and the speed is ideal for video streaming, online gaming or VoIP.
The TP-Link TL-WN823N N300 WiFi Stick has a SoftAP mode that makes it easy to turn your computer into a WiFi hotspot. The TP-Link WLAN Stick is compatible with both Windows and Mac OS. The WLAN is simply and securely encrypted by pressing the WPS button and thanks to its small size, the adapter can be quickly put in your pocket and taken everywhere. So enjoy a fast wireless network on the go.

6. TP-Link Archer T2UH AC600 WLAN Adapter

TP-Link Archer T2UH 600Mbps USB Wireless Network Adapter,...

TP-Link Archer T2UH 600Mbps USB Wireless Network Adapter,...

Key Spec:
  • Dual-Band Wi-Fi: Archer T2UH provides combined dual band Wi-Fi speeds of up to 600Mbps. With wireless speeds of 433Mbps on 5GHz band and 150Mbps on 2.4GHz band, it...
  • External Powerful Antenna: High Gain Long-Range 3dBi Antenna can help you connect even when signals are weak
  • Works With Any Wi-Fi Routers: By using AC600 wireless adapter, you can upgrade your PC/laptop/Mac to work with the latest AC Wi-Fi router for faster speed and...
  • USB cable: equipped with a 1m USB 2.0 extension cable, makes it more convenient to plug the USB device in and out in case the USB socket is far away from you
  • Supported Operating System: Windows (XP/7/8/8.1/10) - Mac OS (10.7~10.13); Easy setup: A friendly and simple user interface makes the installation easier. Easy...
  • Industry Leading Support: 3-YEAR MANUFATURE’S WARRANTY

Last update on 2023-10-17 / Affiliate links, Images and descriptions from Amazon Product Advertising

The TP-Link Archer T2UH AC600 WLAN Adapter works with the current WLAN standard ac and offers speeds of up to 433 Mbit / s. It can be used in the 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz frequency band and enables smooth and smooth video streaming in HD quality as well as online gaming or VoIP telephony.
The Wi-Fi Stick has a detachable external high-gain antenna for even better Wi-Fi reception. The included USB extension allows the stick to be placed flexibly. The TP-Link Archer T2UH AC600 WLAN Adapter is compatible with Windows and is easy to install. The WLAN encryption is very uncomplicated via the WPS button.

7. ANEWKODI 1200Mbps wireless stick

ANEWKODI Wifi Dongle Usb Wifi Adapter 1200Mbps Dual Band...

ANEWKODI Wifi Dongle Usb Wifi Adapter 1200Mbps Dual Band...

Key Spec:
  • 【1200 Mbps high-speed performance】: 1200 Mbps Wi-Fi speed with bands of 5 GHz (866 Mbps) or 2.4 GHz (300 Mbps), much faster than 600 Mbps. Ultra-fast wireless...
  • 【5dBi high gain antenna】: The detachable 5dBi high gain antenna provides better penetration and stability. It can help you, even if the signals are very weak,...
  • 【USB 3.0 interface】: Super Speed ​​USB 3.0 transfer speed is 10 times faster than USB 2.0, used more fluid and more effective.
  • 【Easy to use】: Install the driver via the CD with the package or via the link: Then connect the USB wireless adapter to a PC, laptop, or...
  • 【WARRANTY】: No risk for a 1-year warranty! You can enjoy the perfect replacement or unconditional refund within six months from the date of purchase and a 1-year...

Last update on 2023-10-17 / Affiliate links, Images and descriptions from Amazon Product Advertising

Fast surfing guaranteed by the ANEWKODI 1200Mbit / s WLAN Stick. It can be used in dual-band and offers a speed of 866 Mbps at 5 GHz and 300 Mbps at 2.4 GHz. This makes it possible to stream movies in HD quality and also online gaming runs smoothly.
The ANEWKODI 1200Mbps WLAN Stick is equipped with a powerful 5dBi high-gain antenna that also captures weak signals. If necessary, the antenna can be removed. The WLAN Stick is equipped with a USB 3.0 interface and backwards compatible with USB 2.0. It is compatible with the operating systems Windows 7, 8 and 10, Mac OS and Linux and works with the current WLAN standard ac.

8. AVM FRITZ! WLAN Stick AC 860

AVM FRITZ!WLAN Stick AC 860 (866 Mbps (5 GHz), 300 Mbps,...

AVM FRITZ!WLAN Stick AC 860 (866 Mbps (5 GHz), 300 Mbps,...

Key Spec:
  • WLAN AC USB stick with up to 866 Mbps (5 GHz) and up to 300 Mbps (WLAN N, 2.4 GHz), dual band support for optional 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz connections
  • Stick and surf: Secure WLAN without configuration, ideal for USB 3.0 ports, compatible with USB 2.0
  • Supports all G WLAN standards (802.11ac/n/g/b/a), can be used with all G WLAN routers
  • WPA2 encryption for high WLAN security (802.11i), supports Wi Fi Protected Setup (WPS)
  • Box contents: AVM FRITZ WLAN Stick AC 860, Quick Start Guide, USB Stand with Cable

Last update on 2023-10-17 / Affiliate links, Images and descriptions from Amazon Product Advertising

The AVM FRITZ! WLAN Stick AC 860 provides for fast surfing with speeds of up to 866 MBit / s. It supports the current WLAN standard ac as well as the standards n, g, b and a. It is equipped with a USB 3.0 interface and also compatible with USB 2.0. The stick can be used with all common routers and is particularly easy to connect with Stick and Surf.
The AVM FRITZ! WLAN Stick AC 860 supports Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS), making it easy to set up on all wireless routers. When using with a Fritz! Box, all settings are taken over by mere plugging. The AVM FRITZ! WLAN Stick AC 860 is compatible with all common Windows versions and offers WPA2 encryption for extra security.

9. EDIMAX EW-7811UN Wireless USB Adapter

Edimax EW-7811Un N150 Wireless USB Adapter Nano, Version 1

Edimax EW-7811Un N150 Wireless USB Adapter Nano, Version 1

Key Spec:
  • Complies with wireless 802.11b/g/n standards with data rate up to 150Mbps
  • Green Power Saving : supports smart transmit power control and auto-idle state adjustment
  • Increases wireless coverage 3 times further
  • Includes multi-language EZmax setup wizard
  • Supports 64/128-bit WEP, WPA , WPA2 encryption and WPS-compatible
  • Complies with wireless 802.11n standards with data rate up to 150Mbps
  • Supports Green WLAN

Last update on 2023-10-17 / Affiliate links, Images and descriptions from Amazon Product Advertising

The EDIMAX EW-7811UN Wireless USB Adapter supports the WLAN standard n and is compatible with the G, B standards. It has a WiFi speed of 150 Mbps and has handy indicator lights. Encryption takes place via 128-bit WEP, 64-bit WEP and WPA2 and ensures a secure WLAN connection everywhere. It is equipped with a USB 2.0 interface and is particularly classy and striking due to its black and gold look.

10. AVM 20002571 FRITZ! WLAN Stick N

AVM Fritz!WLAN USB Stick N v2

AVM Fritz!WLAN USB Stick N v2

Key Spec:
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Last update on 2023-10-17 / Affiliate links, Images and descriptions from Amazon Product Advertising

The AVM 20002571 FRITZ! WLAN Stick N supports the WLAN standard N and is compatible with the G, B standards. It can be used in dual-band WLAN for 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz connections. A WPA2 encryption ensures high wireless security and the stick is compatible with all wireless routers.
Will the AVM 20002571 FRITZ! WLAN Stick N with a Fritz! Box used, thanks to the stick and surf function, no configuration is necessary and the wireless security settings are automatically from the Fritz! The AVM 20002571 FRITZ! WLAN Stick N is equipped with the multi-antenna method MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output) and thus ensures an increased data rate and a better range of the WLAN connections.

11. WiFi adapter, 1200Mbit / s with 5dBi antenna

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The WLAN adapter with 5 dBi antenna is a fast WLAN stick, which brings it up to speeds of up to 1200 Mbit / s. It is equipped with an external, rotating 5 dBi amplification antenna, which supports the multidimensional free rotation and increases both the transmission distance and the transmission of the WLAN signal.
The WLAN adapter can be used both as a signal receiver and as a wireless router. You can switch between the AP mode and the station mode. The WLAN adapter is compatible with all Windows systems including Windows 10, with Linux, Android, Mac OS 10.7 and higher as well as other operating systems. It can be used with all common Wi-Fi routers.

What is a USB WiFi Adapter?

Externally, the WLAN stick initially reminds of a USB stick. Instead of the data memory, which is located inside a USB stick, however, the WLAN Stick contains an adapter that makes it possible to connect the PC or another end device via a wireless connection to the Internet. This usually requires a WiFi router or a Wi-Fi hotspot must be within reach, so that the stick can capture a WLAN signal. Wireless networking with other devices in the local network is also possible. The WLAN stick thus replaces the missing WLAN receiver, which is already permanently installed in mobile devices such as laptops or tablets, but not in every desktop PC is available. With the help of the WLAN stick or WLAN adapter, devices are also WLAN-capable, which do not have a WLAN receiver with them. Since the WLAN sticks are very easy to handle and no computer knowledge must be present, as they are required for example when installing a WLAN card, they are a popular means to make older devices quickly and easily WLAN-enabled.

This is how the WiFi Stick works

Nowadays we are used to accessing the Internet from different mobile devices at any time and without any annoying and annoying cables. In many cases, this access is via Wi-Fi, so most of us use it every day. But how does the WLAN and thus also the WLAN stick work at all? The term WLAN stands for Wireless Local Area Network. This refers to a wireless or wireless local area network. For example, the local area network may be two or more devices, such as a computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone connected to each other, or a wireless router connected to one or more devices.

As PCs became households, it was common to connect devices on a local network by cable. Whether modem, router or several computers with each other, the connection was usually an Ethernet cable used to establish a local area network. From this time also originate the LAN parties, which met in the late 1980s, especially computer gamers to connect their computers by cable to a network and play games together.

However, over the years, the need for digital mobility and flexibility has increased, and at the same time, the broadband network has been expanded. Bulky and inflexible desktops have been replaced by mobile laptops, and in 2005, more laptops and notebooks have already been sold in the EU than desktops. Almost all of these laptops and notebooks included a WLAN chip that could be used to establish a wireless connection within a local area network.

Unlike the wired Local Area Network (LAN), WLAN is based on a wireless connection. It requires at least two devices, a transmitter and a receiver. In homes, the wireless local area network is often used to connect devices to the Internet. As a transmitter, a router is usually used, as a receiver smartphone, tablet, laptop or even a desktop PC are used. Between transmitter and receiver now an electromagnetic radio signal is established. This radio signal is transmitted on different channels in different frequencies. For a connection to be established, transmitter and receiver must be on one wavelength, ie use the same frequency. These frequencies are awarded at European level and fall into two distinct areas:

  • the 2.4 GHz range
  • the 5 GHz range

In these frequency ranges channels are released in which the radio signals may be transmitted. These are channels 1 to 13 in the 2.4 GHz range, and 36 to 64 and 100 to 140 in the 5 GHz range. In fact, however, only every fourth channel is used, so for example in the 2.4 GHz range only channels 1, 4, 9 and 13. The reason for this is that the WLAN signal can not be limited to a fixed frequency and it otherwise quickly leads to interference and disturbances can come.

Of course, the transmitter and receiver must be equipped with a corresponding WLAN module so that the wireless transmission works via WLAN. Mobile modern devices such as smartphones or tablets and laptops are usually equipped with such a module in the form of a WLAN chips. However, if a device such as an older desktop PC does not have a WLAN receiver, the WLAN stick comes into play. It is connected to the device via USB and takes over the role of the WLAN receiver and makes it possible to integrate the device in the wireless local network.

These requirements are necessary for using the WLAN Stick

In order to use a WLAN stick, the device only has to fulfil a few requirements. The most important is a USB port into which the WLAN stick can be plugged. Depending on the type of WLAN stick, it should be a USB 2.0 or USB 3.0 port. If the WLAN Stick is a model with USB 3.0 interface, the stick can be used with both USB 3.0 and USB 2.0, as USB is backwards compatible. However, the benefits of the USB 3.0 standard such as faster transfer rates can only be used if both devices are USB 3.0 compliant.

The second requirement for using a WLAN stick is an existing WLAN signal that can be received by the stick. This signal can come either from a wireless router or from a public hot spot. If installation via a driver CD is necessary, the device should also have a CD drive.

Installation of the WLAN stick

The Wi-Fi stick is very easy to use and that’s why it’s very popular. It is not necessary to unscrew the computer, for example, to insert a WLAN card, but the WLAN stick is simply connected via a free USB port to the computer or another device. If it is a WLAN adapter with antenna, it may be useful to use a USB extension to place the WLAN stick. Otherwise, if connected directly to the device, the antennas may be in the way and the risk of accidentally bumping or getting stuck and causing damage.

The installation of the WLAN stick is usually very simple, in the exact implementation, however, can result in significant differences. How the WLAN stick is installed depends, among other things

  • the Wi-Fi stick
  • the router
  • the operating system

Depending on the factors mentioned above, one of the following three installation methods will usually apply:

  1. Plug & Play, in this case also referred to as Plug and Surf
  2. Installation via a driver CD
  3. Installation via WPS button

The easiest way is the Plug & Play version. The WLAN Stick is simply plugged into a free USB port and no installation via driver CD is required. This variant is very often possible with the Windows 10 operating system.

Older Windows operating systems often require the driver CD to install the WLAN stick. The supplied CD is inserted into the corresponding drive and you only have to follow the instructions. Another very easy option is the installation via the WPS button. The abbreviation WPS stands for Wi-Fi Protected Setup and it allows a simplified connection between the devices in the local network. Installation via the WPS button also has the advantage that the WLAN security key is automatically transmitted and does not have to be entered manually. Not every device has a WPS button. Especially older devices are not yet equipped with this standard. Also, where the WPS button is located and how it is labelled differs from device to device. Common names are WPS, WLAN or a corresponding symbol.

To connect a device such as a Wi-Fi stick to the home network via WPS, the router and Wi-Fi Stick must have a WPS button. If you now press both WPS buttons, the devices automatically recognize each other and connect to each other. The exact procedure always depends on the device and you can refer to the operating instructions.

This is how the WLAN Stick is used

First and foremost, the Wi-Fi stick is used to connect a device that is not WLAN-capable alone to a wireless network. In this case, the WLAN Stick serves as a WLAN receiver and allows the device to receive the wireless signals of the router or other devices. Some WLAN sticks also have an AP mode in which they not only act as receivers but can also be set up as a hotspot or router, which in turn can connect to other receivers. Almost all modern devices are equipped with a WLAN receiver today. But even if a WLAN receiver is already present, a WLAN stick can make sense, if the existing receiver uses an outdated and therefore slow standard.

You may also be able to use a Wi-Fi stick to upgrade older devices other than computers, such as a non-smart TVdevice. Whether this is possible, however, always depends on the individual device and the technical possibilities. Prerequisite is always a USB port to which the stick can be connected.

Important questions and terms around the WLAN stick

If you choose to buy a Wi-Fi stick, you’ll quickly come across trivial abbreviations and terms that you may not be familiar with. For this reason, we want to introduce and explain the most important abbreviations and terms around the WLAN stick in our guide on and answer the most important questions that may arise around the WLAN stick.

The WLAN standard

An indication that you will encounter again and again when selecting a suitable WLAN stick is the so-called WLAN standard or WLAN type. To ensure that devices are compatible with each other, the WLAN signal must conform to a standard. This standard is called IEEE 802.11 and it is divided into different types in the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequency bands, which differ in terms of transmission rate.

In the 2.4 GHz frequency range, there are the following standards:

  • 802.11 with a transfer rate of 1-2 Mbit / s
  • 802.11 b with a transmission rate of 6 Mbit / s
  • 802.11 g with a transmission rate of 20 Mbit / s
  • 802.11 n with a transmission rate of 170 Mbit / s

In the 5 GHz frequency range, the following standards are available:

  • 802.11 a and h with a transmission rate of 20 Mbit / s
  • 802.11 n with a transmission rate of 170 Mbit / s
  • 802.11 ac with a transfer rate of 1300 Mbit / s

The WLAN standard ac is currently the fastest standard, and a WLAN stick of type ac, for example, can significantly upgrade an old device that is equipped with a slower standard. For this reason, it can be quite useful to use a WLAN stick even with a device that already has a WLAN receiver. Like USB, the WLAN standards are backwards compatible. Therefore, you can use a type ac WLAN stick with the standards a, b, g or n, but you can only use the full bandwidth if all devices are compatible with ac.

The WLAN standard of the future, which is to be broadcast in the frequency range 60 GHz, is called 802.11 ad and should have a transmission rate of more than 6 Gbit / s.

The wireless speed

We are also equal to the WLAN speeds. With the WLAN stick you depend on the WLAN standard, but what speeds are needed for what? First of all you should inform yourself, with which transfer rate your WLAN connection works at home. A transfer rate of 1300 Mbps does not bother you if this speed is not already present at the connection, because the WLAN stick can only intercept and forward the WLAN signal, but it can not increase the existing data transfer rate. For household use, speeds of about 150 to 300 Mbit / s are usually sufficient. This allows you to stream videos in HD quality, which means you can use services such as Netflix or Amazon Prime Video and play YouTube videos smoothly. In connection with the speed of the WLAN stick, both the abbreviations Mbit / s and Mbps appear. Both stand for “Megabits per second” and their meaning is identical. Mbps is mainly used to avoid confusion with Mbps (megabytes per second).

The frequency range

The WLAN radio signals are transmitted in the frequency range 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. WLAN stick and routers must fit together in this regard, because a WLAN stick, which works in the frequency range 5 GHz, can not be connected to a router, which transmits in the frequency range 2,4 GHz. In most cases, the WLAN sticks work in dual band, which means they can be used in both frequency ranges.

The USB interface

In order to connect the WLAN stick with the device, a USB connection is needed. Your device must, therefore, have an available USB port so that you can connect a WLAN stick. Most of the WLAN sticks are equipped with a USB 2.0 interface. They can be used both on a device with USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 or higher. If your device to which you want to connect the WLAN stick has USB 3.0, you can only take advantage of the benefits of faster transfer rates by using a WLAN Stick with USB 3.0. The standard USB 2.0 is usually sufficient to connect and operate a WLAN stick.

WLAN security and encryption

A home network should always be encrypted so that no one can access it from outside and in this way access your data. To protect and encrypt the home network, there are a variety of ways, but incorrect encryption can not only make the network unsafe, it can also drastically reduce wireless LAN speed. When it comes to encryption, abbreviations such as WEP, WPA, WPA2, WPA + WPA2, TKIP, AES, or CCMP appear, but many Internet users do not like these shortcuts too much. We therefore take a closer look at it:

WEP, WPA and WPA2 are security standards

The oldest and today outdated standard is WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy). It has been superseded by WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access), but even this security standard has been more than 15 years old and is no longer up-to-date. The current security standard is WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access 2) and although it was developed in 2006, this security standard is still valid today.

The abbreviations TKIP (Temporal Key Integrity Protocol), AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) or CCMP (Counter Mode with Cipher Block Chaining Message Authentication Code Protocol) describe encryption methods, which are used by the security standards. For example, WPA uses TKIP. This makes it much safer than the outdated WEP standard, but TKIP limits the connection speed to 54 Mbps, making it slower under certain circumstances. The modern standard WPA2 therefore uses the encryption CCMP, which allows a speed of over 150 Mbit / s and also AES allows higher speeds. The best, fastest and most up-to-date encryption is therefore WPA2 (AES or CCMP).

WLAN stick or WLAN adapter?

To confusion, it sometimes comes with the terms WLAN stick and WLAN adapter. They are sometimes used interchangeably, but strictly speaking, there is one decisive difference: The WLAN stick consists only of the stick itself, while the WLAN adapter has one or more, often removable antennas. Using these antennas, the WLAN adapter can also capture weak WLAN signals. If you want to express it less technically, you can call a WLAN adapter as a WLAN stick with an antenna. Which device is better suited, depends on the individual case. If only a weak WLAN signal is available at the place of use, a WLAN adapter with corresponding antennas may be better suited. You can measure the strength of the WLAN signal yourself using different apps. The apps can be installed on the smartphone and show you the WLAN strength of the various networks within your reach.

Please do not confuse: WLAN Stick, USB Stick, Surf Stick and WLAN Repeater

Already optically USB flash drive and WLAN stick almost to a confusion. But even if they look very similar, the inner life is completely different. While the USB stick has storage space and no impact on Wi-Fi reception, you can not store anything on the Wi-Fi stick, but it does upgrade a device so it can be connected and used in the wireless network.

Another likelihood of confusion exists with the Surf Stick. The WLAN stick acts as a WLAN receiver and makes older devices, which do not have a WLAN module by themselves, WLAN-capable. However, the stick only receives the WLAN signal that is already being sent by a router or a hotspot. The Surf Stick works quite differently. He acts as a router and does not access the Internet as the router from the telephone socket, but via a mobile network, as well as the smartphone. With the Surf Stick, you can build your own connection to the Internet, even if you have no router and no Internet contract with a provider such as Telekom.

The third in the league, which is often confused with the WLAN stick, is the WLAN Repeater. Here it is not the optics, because unlike WLAN Stick and Surf Stick, the WLAN Repeater does not look like a standard USB stick, but he has a power plug and is not to the computer or another device, but to a power outlet connected. It captures the wireless signal of the router and amplifies it, so that even at remote locations in the house, on the balcony or in the garden has a good Wi-Fi coverage. The devices integrated in the local network can access the repeater with the amplified signal instead of the router with its too weak signal. For example, you can connect a device via WLAN on the first or second floor.

More terms around the WLAN stick

What is a WLAN hotspot?

A Wi-Fi hotspot is a public, wireless Internet access point. WLAN hotspots are located in public buildings, for example, but are also offered in private rooms such as in the catering trade. The hotspots are designed to give people free access to the Internet.

… Wi-Fi ??

Wi-Fi is an art term that was invented on the basis of the well-known analogy Hi-Fi for High Fidelity. The term was developed by a consortium of companies that worked in the field of radio interface certification and renamed itself Wi-Fi Alliance in 2002 from WECA (Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance). A real shortcut is Wi-Fi therefore not, although the Wi is certainly wireless (wireless). Wi-Fi is often synonymous with Wi-Fi in English but also in German-speaking countries, but while Wi-Fi refers to the wireless network, Wi-Fi is certified to the IEEE 802.11 standard.

… a dongle?

A Wi-Fi dongle is the same as a Wi-Fi stick. The name comes from the beginning of this technique, when the WLAN sticks were called dongle.

… an access point?

An access point or wireless access point is a device that not only receives but also sends data. With its help, various devices can be connected in a network. For example, in a home network, the router is the access point. Public access points are hotspots.

… a UMTS stick ?

A UMTS stick is nothing more than a surfstick. However, it must not be confused with the WLAN stick.

Alternatives to the WiFi stick

If a device is to be connected to the home network that does not have a WLAN receiver, there is, of course, the possibility to connect the device via wire. If it is a desktop PC that is in a fixed place, for example, on a desk, and it is possible to lay the cable so that it does not bother you, connecting to an Ethernet cable is a good alternative because the cable ensures a stable and fast connection. In practice, however, it is often the case that the cable is lying around or hanging in the way, distracting or unsightly, and therefore you prefer to use a wireless connection. If the connection with the WLAN stick is unstable or too slow, there is the possibility of using a WLAN adapter with antennas. Alternatively, a new network card with a WLAN receiver may also be installed in the device. However, this requires some specialist knowledge and a computer layman must have this done in a corresponding workshop.

Maintenance and care of the WiFi Adapter

Maintenance and care are usually not necessary with a WLAN stick. However, you should protect the stick from dust, dirt and moisture, being careful not to drop it or otherwise subject it to vibration and mechanical impact. If you do not use the stick or carry it around with you, it makes sense to carry it in a small box or similar, where it stays dry and clean. When using wireless adapters with antenna, it may be advisable to use a USB extension to ensure that the antennas do not interfere with the stick being connected directly to the computer and that you do not accidentally get caught and break anything.

Accessories for the WLAN stick

The most important accessory for a WLAN stick is a USB extension. It is not always sensible or possible to connect the WLAN stick to a USB port on the device. If, for example, there are no USB ports on the front of the device and the back of the device is directly against a wall, the WLAN stick may receive the signals there only poorly. In these cases, a USB extension helps with which the WLAN stick can be placed in a better position. Another useful accessory is a USB hub. If you do not have an available USB port on your device, you can use a USB hub to provide additional ports.

The trade offers a very large selection of WLAN sticks. In order to choose the right stick, you should consider a few things before buying.

First determine for which type of device you want to use the WLAN stick. Do you need a WLAN stick for the PC or should the WLAN stick be used for a TV, for example? Upgrading an outdated desktop computer with a Wi-Fi stick and wirelessly connecting to the home network is usually not a problem. This may not be the case with a TV or other devices, because the WiFi Stick can not automatically connect to the Internet if the device is not designed for it. Depending on the device, you should therefore find out exactly whether it makes sense to use a WLAN stick. As a rule, the manufacturer can provide information. 
You must also pay attention to the following:

  • Choose the right WLAN standard
    The most common WLAN standard is currently 802.11 n, which is usually sufficient for most applications. If you need more speed and want to be prepared for the future, you should choose the latest standard ac
  • Choose the right speed
    For domestic use, a speed of 150 to 300 Mbit / s is usually sufficient.
  • Make sure that the WLAN Stick is working in the correct frequency range
    The frequency range of the router must match the frequency range of the WLAN Stick. So both devices have to work either in the 2.4 GHz range or in the 5 GHz range. However, most modern devices are equipped with a dual-band feature and can be used in both areas.
  • With or without antenna? 
    Decide on a weak WLAN signal for a WLAN adapter with antennas, which catch the signal better than a simple stick
  • Pay attention to the USB interface
    In particular, if you want to use the new standard 802.11 ac with its high data transfer rate, both the WLAN stick and the terminal should be equipped with a USB 3.0 interface. For the conventional standards up to 802.11 n, however, a USB 2.0 connection is sufficient.
  • Look for a compatible operating system
    Most WLAN sticks are compatible with both Windows and Mac OS, and many can be used with Linux. However, there are exceptions, so when you buy, make sure your operating system is compatible with the Wi-Fi Stick.
  • Make sure that the encryption is up-to-date
    The Wi-Fi stick should offer up-to-date encryption in the form of WPA2 (AES or CCMP). The standard WEP is completely outdated and should not be used today and both WPA (TKIP) and the combination WPA / WPA2 can reduce the speed of your WLAN significantly
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