Acquiring an ip address??
January 4, 2010 5:43 AM   Subscribe

My wireless is incredibly spotty and is "acquiring new ip address" constantly. Can I fix this?

I am using a Windows XP. I accidentally broke my wireless card/wireless slot so I opted to use an Encore Wireless-G USB Adapter.

It reports to have excellent signal (I've used the usb to connect to wireless in various places and right now I'm in my own home) but then, every so often it'll stop and say I need to renew my ip address. I'm trying to do some research at the moment and this "no connection" thing slows me down a lot and is very annoying.

Eventually the signal will return, but it's just annoying. Is there any way to fix this without going out and buying a new wireless adapter right away? (Although if there are no solutions I may as well do this)
posted by pulled_levers to Technology (12 answers total)
Is it only doing the renewing bit at your home?
posted by jangie at 5:46 AM on January 4, 2010

Response by poster: Oops, I guess I should have been more specific. No, it does the renewing bit EVERYWHERE. I have tried it out in other places but I thought it would go away once I got back home (I haven't been home in a few days, so this hasn't just happened over a span of a day) because of my proximity to the router.
posted by pulled_levers at 5:49 AM on January 4, 2010

Can you check the order of preferred wireless networks? Remove any unwanted entries in there, or at least make sure that the networks you use are at the top of the list.

This sort of thing can sometimes happen if your device periodically picks up another (preferred) network (e.g. a public wifi network provided by a local mobile carrier), then drops it again for your intended network once the signal drops off again (and therefore has to obtain a new IP address from your intended network).
posted by saintsguy at 5:53 AM on January 4, 2010

I had a whole different answer typed out about interference from cordless phones and the like, but if you are seeing the same behavior in different places, chances are it's either a driver issue or defective hardware.

Try setting a static IP for your adapter, and see if things improve --- it might be an acceptable workaround for your home network.
posted by Dr Dracator at 5:53 AM on January 4, 2010

Mmm... If it was only happening sporadically in one place, I would think that it would be to something like a nearby microwave/wireless (landline) phone/other wireless router interfering (or your router possibly needing replacement), but if it's happening sporadically in multiple places, I think it would be your adapter.

Can you swap yours with somebody else's and see if your problem is resolved? Otherwise, I'd try to find a store with a generous return policy and see if a new adapter resolves your issue.
posted by jangie at 5:54 AM on January 4, 2010

My laptop started doing the same thing a few weeks ago. Updated drivers et voila...

Not sure if this would work for a USB adapter, but quick enough to try.
posted by gijsvs at 6:07 AM on January 4, 2010

It's a settings issue.

Double click on your wireless connection.
Select "Change the order of preferred networks"
Click on the "Wireless Networks" tab and then click on the Advanced BUTTON (not on the Advanced tab!)
Uncheck "Automatically Connect to Non-PReferred Networks"
posted by I-baLL at 6:52 AM on January 4, 2010

Windows XP has a configuration setting called wireless zero configuration that periodically steals your wireless connection to go prowling for more networks.

In Windows XP if you disable it while connected through your wireless card, Windows will no longer steal your wireless. You do have to re-enable it to reconnect or initiate a connection, but XP works fine without it once you've gotten that connection.

To disable/re-enable:
Go to Start/Run -> services.msc
Find Wireless Zero Configuration in the list, right click it and stop/start it.
posted by bookdragoness at 7:31 AM on January 4, 2010

One last thing to investigate: power settings. Some laptops I've seen power off their network connection after just a short period of inactivity. Reacquiring the connection takes forever.
posted by Nelson at 7:55 AM on January 4, 2010

Along the same lines as power settings, the battery on my work laptop just died, and it had alot of trouble keeping a wireless connection even when plugged in. When I replaced the battery, the problem went away.
posted by cabingirl at 9:03 AM on January 4, 2010

Wireless Zero Configuration is the Windows Wireless Manager. If you're using the wireless connection manager that comes with Windows then you shouldn't disable it.
posted by I-baLL at 9:36 AM on January 4, 2010

Response by poster: An update: my battery life is fine, so I don't think that's the problem. I did stop the windows zero configuration and I don't know if it helps or exacerbates the problem. The wireless seems to stop itself and need to re-acquire the ip address after I try to do something like load skype or watch a youtube video. Maybe it's too much er, bandwidth for my connection to handle? I'm not very good with tech words so I might be putting wrong words in my mouth.
posted by pulled_levers at 10:37 AM on January 4, 2010

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