An unusual intermittant wireless connection
September 26, 2008 9:17 AM   Subscribe

Our laptop loses wireless connection, and only changing a wireless setting on the router fixes it (any setting). What could be going on?

My wife has a laptop running XP Home SP2 and a Linksys wireless card, connecting to our Verizon DSL via the Westell model 327W router they gave us. The router is currently not set to distribute IP addresses, for purposes of port forwarding, has 128-bit WEP on, and we get good signal with nobody else using the same channel nearby.

Every so often (ranging from once an hour to one a week), the connection gets lost. Restarting the computer, unplugging the router, trying to fix the computer settings...nothing works. Sometimes, if I re-enter the key in ASCII instead of Hexadecimal, I can connect to the router but not the internet. But if I enter the router admin and change any wireless setting at all (or even change one and change it back), the connection is immediately restored. Obviously there's some sort of "computer talking to router" problem here that gets reset, but I'll be darned if I know where to even start looking.
posted by Dr.Enormous to Computers & Internet (4 answers total)
The wireless router may be overheating, I've seen a lot of linksys routers that overheat and act in a similar strange manner, usually not allowing connections or dropping packets.

Changing a setting may reboot the router and allow it to cool long enough to deal with the heat issue. Try putting it on it's side, or moving it somewhere more ventilated.
posted by zentrification at 9:49 AM on September 26, 2008

Wireless routers do seems to fail (oddly for electronic equipment). I've been though one a year for the last several years.

I can't diagnose your laptop problem but I have laptop that loses connection and only switching the wi-fi card off and on (it's blue-button + 'F2' for me) gets it reconnected. Is as if the wi-fi card needs a re-boot. But if you're rebooting the whole machine that can't be what you are having.
posted by Xhris at 10:03 AM on September 26, 2008

I'm interested to hear what happens if you try to ping the router as well as an internet address. Recently 1 of my 2 laptops has been having issues where I am connected to the router, but no traffic is processed.... while the other one continues un interrupted. If the other one had the same problem of course I'd rule out the router.

However, when I this happens I'm able to ping local devices, the router, the other laptop, the wii... but when I ping - I get Hardware Error, repeatedly.

I learned this week that if I ping -t - eventually Hardware error stops, and Request Times Out appears - ICMP must be blocked on my works laptop.... but the internet continues to work. No changes whatsoever.

Anyway, if you don't know how to ping- go to Start, Run, type 'cmd' and hit enter.

type 'ping' and hit enter... you'll see some text, including:
Pinging [] with 32 bytes of dat

that's what I'm interested in. I wonder if you're having the same problem I had.
posted by TuxHeDoh at 10:57 AM on September 26, 2008

I have a similar problem sometimes where my connection vanishes for no reason.

The way I end up fixing it is just by going to the command prompt (the "Start, Run, cmd" bit mentioned by TuxHeDoh) and just typing "ipconfig /renew" without the quotes.

Usually takes about five to ten seconds and my connection is restored.

But I have *no* idea what causes my connection to drop... just like you I can sometimes go hours or weeks. Very random.
posted by sascha at 7:29 AM on September 29, 2008

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