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November 5, 2008 4:17 PM   Subscribe

My laptop wireless keeps dropping. I have two other computers in the same apartment that are connecting wirelessly through the same router, in the same proximity, so I don't think it's environmental interference. How do I best troubleshoot the likely cause?

It was working fine a few weeks ago. The only thing I've done in the meantime is connect to the router with an ethernet cable, and although the timing seems to coincide with this, I can't figure out why it would make a difference. When it drops the signal, I'm able to reconnect immediately without issue, and it generally holds for up to 10 minutes until it drops again.

Any troubleshooting tips I've searched out haven't been very helpful. I'd be very appreciative if anyone has any good ideas, based on the details I've provided.
posted by SpacemanStix to Computers & Internet (11 answers total)
 
"based on the details I've provided"

What details? You didn't provide any details at all!

We don't know what the router is, what kind of wireless network you're running, with what security model, what WNICs you're using, or even what operating system is running on any of the devices in question. Those are the sort of details that can get you help, so tell us at least something so we can help you.
posted by majick at 4:29 PM on November 5, 2008


I thought that perhaps some of the details I've provided could suggest certain things, like a certain subset of solutions that allow for other computers to connect while another one can't, a possible common cause for intermittent disconnection that isn't environmental, why this might happen out of the blue, etc.

I'll check on some of the details when I get home from work tonight.
posted by SpacemanStix at 4:37 PM on November 5, 2008


Sure, there are tons of things things that might apply, but it's tough to see if they actually do apply based on essentially zero information. For example if you're running stock Linksys firmware, WPA2, and using a MacBook Pro with OSX 10.5.0 through .3 you're running into one of the myriad of driver problems that Apple semi-recently fixed. But that doesn't apply if you've got a D-Link router and a funky old Dell running Debian with an Orinoco Silver card hanging out the side, and all the other computers are OpenSolaris machines cobbled together out of Newegg parts.

The steps to troubleshoot are going to differ vastly depending on what hardware and software you have in place.

"Any troubleshooting tips I've searched out haven't been very helpful. "

If you're using search terms as vague as your question here, that's unsurprising, but getting you on the right track will only take a bit of information about the situation.
posted by majick at 4:46 PM on November 5, 2008


Gotcha. Let me see what I can find and I'll provide an update. I have to check on some of the router details.
posted by SpacemanStix at 4:56 PM on November 5, 2008


One tiny tidbit of information that may be useful is for you to tell us which operating system you're using.
posted by rhizome at 5:35 PM on November 5, 2008


Okay, here's what I've got. My laptop is a Inspiron 700m (Dell) running XP Pro. I'm connecting to a Westell Router, model 327W. I'm currently using mac filtering while I try to figure out some issues that WPA-PSK seems to be causing on another laptop. The adapter is a built-in Intel Pro 2200BG.

Let me know if anything else would be helpful.
posted by SpacemanStix at 5:42 PM on November 5, 2008


Youre assuming too much. If the other machines have a better wireless chipset or antenna then they would be able to handle a marginal connection or intermittent interference better than you. I would change the channel on the router to one of the other non-overlapping channels (1, 6, or 11) and see if that helps.

The adapter is a built-in Intel Pro 2200BG.

Did you get the latest driver for this from support.dell.com yet? Intel's site has the newest driver also.

Lastly, if none of the above work, then update the firmware on the router itself.
posted by damn dirty ape at 6:17 PM on November 5, 2008


I'm currently using mac filtering while I try to figure out some issues that WPA-PSK seems to be causing on another laptop.

Its possible, but perhaps not too likely, that a malicious user has cloned your mac and is using it to get free wifi access. This would explain random drops as the packets collide and confuse the router. Perhaps turning on WEP for now or fixing the WPA issue would be a good first step.
posted by damn dirty ape at 9:43 PM on November 5, 2008


Have you updated your Intel PROSet Wireless drivers and your routers firmware?
posted by missmagenta at 1:50 AM on November 6, 2008


Thanks for the feedback everyone. I've updated the wireless driver, but not the router firmware. No resolution yet. I'll provide updates on what transpires.

I did notice that I don't have any problems staying connected via other wireless networks, just the one in my apartment.
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:00 AM on November 6, 2008


I would change the channel on the router to one of the other non-overlapping channels (1, 6, or 11) and see if that helps.

This is what I'll try next, when I get home tonight. As I only have problems in my apartment, unless my IP address is being spoofed or something, perhaps it is something close by causing interference.
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:11 AM on November 6, 2008


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