Monday, August 25, 2014

How to update a WEP key for a Windows XP computer

Wireless networks use many different protocols for security and encryption.  One of these protocols is WEP encryption, which requires that any device connecting to a wireless network provides the correct WEP key.  If a device does not have the correct key, it won't be able to connect.

If you've changed your wireless network's WEP key and you need to update that information on a Windows XP computer, follow the steps below.  Your computer won't be able to connect to the network until you input the new WEP key.

If you see the icon for wireless networking in the lower right corner of your taskbar (it looks like a computer with radio waves or sound waves coming out of it) you can right click on that icon and then select Open Network Connections.  If you don't see that icon, you can get to the same place by clicking on the Start button and then right clicking on My Network Places and choosing Properties.

In the Network Connections window, right click on Wireless Network Connection and choose Properties.  The Wireless Network Connection Properties window will open.  In this window, click on the Wireless Networks tab across the top.  In the box in the middle of the window, a list of all your saved networks will be displayed.  Click on the network whose WEP key you need to update and then click the Properties button.

In the connection's properties window, there will be a text field labeled "Network key."  This field is where the current WEP key is stored.  To replace it with the new WEP key, simply click on the text field to erase the characters there and then type in the new WEP key.  Once you've typed the WEP key in, you'll have to type it in again next to "Confirm network key."

After you've entered the WEP key and confirmed it, click OK to close the properties window, and then click OK again to close the wireless properties window.  Once these windows are closed, the new WEP key will be saved on your computer for the next time you connect to that network.

These instructions are written for Windows' Wireless Zero connection utility, which is built into Windows XP.  If you are using a different wireless connection client (such as Dell's Wireless Configuration Utility) the steps for updating the WEP key will vary.  See your software's documentation or user manual.

(Originally published on, Oct 2011)

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