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We have Wi-Fi in our main floor. In my craft room, I want to hook an older (non Wi-Fi) computer up to a TV for YouTube tutorials and download instructions. Is there a way to do this?

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  • I'm wondering if there is a simpler solution to your problem. You say you want to connect the computer to the TV to watch Youtube, etc. Would it be simpler to get a Chromecast, Firestick, etc. and connect that to the TV? e.g. store.google.com/ca/product/chromecast?hl=en-GB or amazon.ca/fire-tv-stick-with-3rd-gen-alexa-voice-remote/dp/… Your TV would have to have an HDMI port (which I assume it does if you're considering connecting your computer to it), but you may have other use cases that aren't addressed by a Chromecast. Note that these devices also have web brow
    – Scott
    Commented Jan 7, 2022 at 13:32

6 Answers 6

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There are a number of ways to do this:

  • Power line adapters - I have used these a few times. They piggyback a network signal on the electrical wiring. One adapter connects to your router and the other provides an ethernet jack that you can connect directly to a computer or to a switch to connect multiple computers, printers, etc.

  • USB WiFi adapter for the computer - If the computer has a USB port, you can get a USB WiFi adapter like this:

USB WiFi

Some of them are really small - the same size as mouse/keyboard wireless adapters - but I find the ones with big antennas tend to work better. I have used these to add WiFi to computers that didn't have WiFi, to replace broken internal WiFi adapters and to improve WiFi performance (e.g., go from 2.4 Ghz to 5 Ghz).

  • Wired ethernet to WiFi adapter - This lets you take any ethernet network wired device - not just a computer (which could just as easily use a USB adapter) but a printer or other device - and connect it to a WiFi network. You program it (methods will vary) to access the WiFi network and then connect it to your non-WiFi device. This is one example:

Wired to WiFi network adapter

I have not used this particular adapter, but I have used similar devices in the past.

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    The big downside of powerline is that both ends must be on the same ring. That's pretty unlikely on two separate floors of a house.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Jan 7, 2022 at 10:23
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    @Tetsujin Do they really? I think they just require the same phase. In my experience, the signal easily passes through circuit breakers. What I've heard is a problem is when the other device is behind another electricity meter, those supposedly have filters in them which block the signal.
    – JohnEye
    Commented Jan 7, 2022 at 12:48
  • This is likely to depend on where you live. UK mains is all the same phase in any given house, each 'fuse' is split in ring mains, not spurs like the US. I spent some time experimenting with this when my ISP gave me a couple of units a few years ago. I can get them to work perfectly in one room, or more broadly on the 'same fuse/ring', but they will not traverse floors [which would have made them actually useful;))
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Jan 7, 2022 at 12:51
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    I've got three ring mains in the house, and a separate spur to the garage. Not just three separate ring mains, but three separate consumer units. One in the main house, one in the extension and one in the garage. Powerline adapters work fine for me, and I get the quoted speeds. Commented Jan 7, 2022 at 12:51
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    This looks like it's going to be a YMMV.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Jan 7, 2022 at 12:52
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If the non-wifi computer has a USB port, you could use a USB-Wifi dongle. The dongle contains a two-way radio (just like a wifi-enabled computer) to connect to the wifi signal. Plug the dongle into the non-wifi computer, and presto! the computer can now connect to wifi.

Here's a page from Best Buy, showing some of the ones they sell. There are pages and pages of merchants selling this stuff.

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The simplest (and likely least expensive) solution will be a USB WiFi adapter. A couple of specific things to consider when using one:

  • Plug it directly into the computer, not a USB hub connected to the computer. WiFi, especially 802.11ac and newer is something that can actually saturate a USB link completely, so you want as few things competing with it for USB bandwidth as possible.
  • The extra cost of a USB 3.0 WiFi adapter is worth it as long as you’re using at least 802.11n (otherwise you can’t utilize the full bandwidth of the WiFi connection).
  • Prefer an adapter with an external antenna. They almost always do better with signal quality.
  • If possible, prefer an adapter with a cabled antenna (that is, one which connects to the adapter through a cable), as that will give you better options for antenna placement and thus better ability to adapt to signal quality.

The next best option is to get another wireless access point and either configure it and your main router in WDS (wireless distribution system) mode (this will usually be more complicated to set up, but is often more efficient and more resilient in the long run), or configure it and your main router as a two-node mesh network. Or, alternatively, just get a new router and spend the extra money on a mesh set (you can get pre-bundled wireless mesh router sets from most of the big manufacturers). Then put the new router (or one of the mesh nodes if you just get a new set of routers) next to the desktop and connect them via regular Ethernet. This is the ‘professional’ way to solve your issue and future-proof things.


After that, you largely just end up with options that are at best mediocre. The preferred option is an Ethernet-to-WiFi adapter. These exist to support old networked printers and similar things that lack WiFi, but they do work fine for computers. The caveat is that they tend to have mediocre performance, and they are actually becoming difficult to find (because their primary use case is becoming increasingly uncommon).

Then you have the option of just running an Ethernet cable. This is not actually quite as bad as it may sound at first, though it’s not exactly easy either. If you do go this route, get it done by a professional, and splurge for Cat6A or better cabling so you’re properly future-proof. This may actually be monetarily cheaper than my sugestion above about getting an extra WiFi AP, but it is decisively more invasive and likely to be more inconvenient, at least in the short-term.

The last resort option is powerline networking. This is a pain in the arse to set up, requiring a number of special conditions to be met, such as needing both outlets to be on the same circuit, typically needing to be plugged directly into the wall (it will not work through a UPS, and may not work through a surge protector) and often requiring relatively ‘clean’ (read as ‘low noise’) power. Based on personal experience, even if you get proper IEEE 1901 certified hardware for this, it’s never going to be as reliable as any of the options I’ve listed above, and will almost always get worse bandwidth too.


As a final note, if you have unused coaxial cabling or Cat3 telephony cabling in your house, you may be able to do something with HomePNA (ITU G.9954). I have no idea where you would get the hardware, or how well that may or may not work as I’ve never worked with it myself (unlike everything else I’ve listed here).

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Strongly recommend using HomePlug using power line to connect your CAT5 to the router. I am currently using it and never have a packet drop due to congested wifi channel.

Edit: you may find multiple HomePlug from multiple manufacturer. From my experience they are backward compatible even they have different speed. Says HomePlug1 from Netgear mix with HomePlug AV from TP Link.

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  • Didn't know it was actually called a homeplug, thought it was just called a powerline. Beware you can experience loss in quality when you plug the powerlines into different circuits though
    – DarkBee
    Commented Jan 7, 2022 at 11:40
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    "Home Plug" is a brand name for a particular manufacturer's Ethernet over Power solution, @DarkBee. Also, this has been suggested in at least 2 other answers, so it doesn't add much.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Jan 7, 2022 at 12:51
  • HomePlug is a specification that compatible for multiple manufacturer.
    – Kelvin Ng
    Commented Jan 7, 2022 at 14:05
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    – Community Bot
    Commented Jan 7, 2022 at 14:24
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I'm aware of a few options:

  • USB WiFi: use a USB WiFi doungle to give WiFi onto your otherwise non-wifi PC. This assumes you have a USB socket and your existing WiFi reaches it and your PC will work with the doungle you've found
  • Powerline ethernet: using a powerline ethernet adaptor to connect your network. I'm not a fan of this, you hear lots of different reports about their reliability and speeds. More importantly, they are usually limited to being on the same mains ring, which is unlikely across floors in your house
  • Wire up some ethernet in your house. Not easy, not quick, not cheap and not tidy (unless you do it really well).
  • Use a mesh WiFi network with ethernet sockets. Many mesh wifi nodes have ethernet sockets you can use as wired connections. This is the method I use: I have a Tenda Nova Mesh WiFi which covers the house, and then I put a node in each room where I want a wired network (in my home office for example).
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  • Quick warning about the tenda novas. Least on mine, using the cloud management option kinda made it impossible to log into them. They've been working fine for years - and they're the cheapest ones that do wireless backhaul. Just run them with the 'local' management options. Commented Jan 7, 2022 at 14:01
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One option I didn't see here was a range extender with an ethernet port. Not all of them have it, but I've used this Netgear before:

https://www.netgear.com/home/wifi/range-extenders/ex2700/

You connect it to WiFi as a client, and then it has an ethernet port (on the bottom) that you cable to your existing computer/device. We did this with an ancient TIVO a few years back.

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