We'll start with the ad-hoc mode, which is comprised of wireless network adapters that are able to automatically locate and communicate with each other. This is the cheapest method of setting up a wireless network and acceptable for a network that consists of two to three computers. However, there are some disadvantages to travelling this route, especially when it comes to a medium to large-sized network. One disadvantage is that it becomes cumbersome for the wireless and wired aspects of your network to communicate. Many of the functionalities are lost when the designated computer is turned off. The other disadvantage to using the ad-hoc mode lies in keeping clients withing range of each other. In a large home or building, connectivity can be lost when each other the computers reside in areas where there is quite a bit of distance between them, placing the network adapters out of range of each other.
As an alternative to the ad-hoc mode, you may wish to implement the infrastructure mode, which overcomes the obstacles that you would experience using the ad-hoc mode. This mode requires the use of wireless access points that would expectedly add to the cost of implementing a wireless networking solution. However, you will find them highly beneficial to your network, especially if you're looking to add more clients to your network. Access points provide a simple means of hardware bridging between your wireless and wired components of your network, instead of utilizing a software bridging solution. An infrastructure wireless network provides for a more reliable network connection for your wireless clients, since you're using a stationary base that is strategically placed for maximum reception.
If you're looking to implement a wireless networking solution with a minimum cost level, you can start with the ad-hoc mode and move into the infrastructure mode.
Now, we'll look at some of the essential hardware needed to complete the setup of your wireless network.