Vista Wifi Blues
August 31, 2008 3:07 PM   Subscribe

Just bought the wife a new laptop loaded with Vista Home Premium, and despite being a smoking machine, we're experiencing all kinds of wifi problems.

My wife and I purchased for her a new Dell Studio laptop loaded for a pretty good price at Best Buy a couple nights ago, and I've spent the last two days pretty much fruitlessly trying to get her connected to two different access points in the house, with little or no luck. The machine (as we discovered last night) is loaded with Windows Vista Home Premium, 64 bit version. The wireless card is a Dell 1397, which is a rebranded Broadcom card.

We have two wireless networks in the house, an old Netgear box broadcasting 802.11B, and a LinkSys WRT54G running Sveasoft Alchemy firmware and broadcasting 802.11G. The B network uses WEP security and MAC filtering. The G network uses WPA security and MAC filtering.

I get partial access on the B network. It connects, and gets an address but is abysmally slow, frequently stalling out on just about any page I attempt to load. Its more like a bad dial-up connection than wifi. None of the other machines in our house connected to this router through wifi have any similar problems.

On the G network I get nothing. In spite of entering the correct security password and having the MAC address registered in the filter table, Vista comes back with the cryptic error "wireless association failed due to an unknown reason". Again, I have several other machines, including two running Vista, in the house that get perfectly acceptable wifi connections from this box.

If, however, I just plug the machine into one of the ethernet ports on the G router, I get a full speed connection.

I am at a total loss. The Dell site shows nothing regarding this sort of problem. I was a little surprised to find out that the machine was running 64 bit Windows and have a suspicion that that might be part of the problem, but nothing conclusive.

Looking for possible solutions or other similar tales of woe with this machine and configuration.
posted by hwestiii to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I had all sorts of problems with WiFi on our new Dell Vista 32-bit laptop and a Linksys WRT54GS router a few months ago. I can't remember all the details of how I fixed it because I tried a LOT of different things, but it IS fixed. I think the key is to disable Vista's IPv6 capability. Google 'disable IPv6' for advice.

However, I do know that 64-bit Vista requires 64-bit hardware drivers, so make sure you have updated all drivers appropriately.
posted by rocks009 at 3:22 PM on August 31, 2008

Update the router firmware
Update the wireless drivers for your wireless card in your laptop
Temporarily turn off the network encryption and MAC address filtering
Power cycle the modem & router (both off, modem on, wait for sync, router on, wait for connection)
Reboot computer
See if you can connect
If you can connect, add back on WPA encryption (not WEP-- not secure enough and I've had more problems with it) and MAC address filtering

If you can't connect, try changing the channel for your wireless G network to avoid possible interference from cordless phones.
posted by sharkfu at 3:25 PM on August 31, 2008

Update all drivers and firmware on everything.

If it still doesn't work, can it connect with WPA/WEP and MAC filtering turned off?
posted by k8t at 3:26 PM on August 31, 2008

Response by poster: Whoa!!! Elementary error. Seems I did not have the MAC address entered in the filter table for the G router. I think I confused that with entering it in the table of fixed addresses for the DHCP server.

Got the MAC filter table updated correctly and now the machine connects perfectly. Still wondering about the poor performance on the B network though.

Thanks for the responses.
posted by hwestiii at 3:43 PM on August 31, 2008

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