computer--router, router--internet, computer-x-internet
December 5, 2010 9:31 AM   Subscribe

Router connects to internet. Computer connects wirelessly to router. Computer does not connect wirelessly to internet.

I'm trying to set up a LinkSys E1000 router. When my computer (Windows Vista) is wired to the router, everything is fine—I get an internet connection, no problem. When I go wireless, the computer still indicates that it's connected to the router, but I don't get an internet connection. However, even though the computer indicates it's still connected to the router wirelessly, I can get to the router admin page ( only when wired.

The setup CD which came with the router exits with a "Your router was not successfully set up" message, after several minutes, when I try to run it either wirelessly or wired.

I've tried cycling the power on both the router and my cable modem, as well as rebooting my computer. I tried the procedure listed in this comment to no avail. (My ISP is Insight, previously Comcast before they were bought out by Insight.)

I had previously purchased a Belkin Surf N300 router and had the same problem. I returned it, thinking the problem was with the router, but now that I'm having the same problem with a different brand of router, I suspect there's some setting on my computer which needs to be adjusted.

I've been trying to replace my router because I have been working off of an old Microsoft MN-700 router, which did connect me to the internet wirelessly, though not without problems; it would sometimes drop the connection, which I could fix by cycling power on the router. But at least I could connect wirelessly with that! It's been years since I set that up, so if I did anything unusual, I don't remember it.

Any ideas?
posted by DevilsAdvocate to Computers & Internet (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This can hardly be solved non-interactively. You could try deleting your wireless card/adapter from the vista device manager, then restarting the computer to re-detect it. This should reset the adapter, maybe this helps.

Since you cannot even connect to the routers admin page, there's probably something wrong with the connection itself. This could be your computer connects to the wrong wifi network and anything concerning the connection itself (TCP/IP settings, firewall, DNS, ...).

You don't actually need to install anything on the computer from a CD to use a wireless router. Maybe you should try connecting to it manually. As in with Vistas built-in methods.
posted by oxit at 9:46 AM on December 5, 2010

Is the wireless connection on your computer set to obtain its ip address automatically (via DHCP)? This article explains how to check.
posted by ChrisHartley at 9:46 AM on December 5, 2010

oxit: have been trying manual methods as well. No dice. I'm reluctant to delete the wireless card and reboot, but may go to that eventually if nothing else works.

ChrisHartley: Yes, set to obtain IP address and DHCP server automatically.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:01 AM on December 5, 2010

Removing and re-adding the wireless adapter usually is risk-free. It'll just get reinstalled when re-detected. If not, you can use the "scan for new devices" action. Worst case would be that you don't have drivers installed, but you say you can still connect to the internet with a cable, so you could still download them manually.
posted by oxit at 10:03 AM on December 5, 2010

Also, I turned off Windows firewall and AVG 2011. That didn't help either.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:13 AM on December 5, 2010

OK, I deleted the wireless adapter from the device manager and rebooted. Also checked that the adapter's driver was up to date (it was). No change.

I'm going to poke around the admin screens in the Microsoft router for a bit and see if there's anything unusual I had set up on there, but please keep any suggestions coming.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:31 AM on December 5, 2010

Are you connecting to the correct wifi network? Double-check the SSID.
posted by oxit at 10:34 AM on December 5, 2010

Yep, I've checked the SSID.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:53 AM on December 5, 2010

even though the computer indicates it's still connected to the router wirelessly, I can get to the router admin page ( only when wired.

i think this could be meaningful.

if you cannot administer your router wirelessly (internet or no internet) then there's something wrong with a) the router b) your wifi adapter or both.

does your computer work on other wifi networks?
posted by DavidandConquer at 11:03 AM on December 5, 2010

What IP address is the router giving your computer when you connect wirelessly? You can find out by opening the command prompt (windows key + R, then type in "cmd" and hit enter) and typing "ipconfig". If the IP address starts with 169 than the router is not assigning your computer an IP address. If it starts with 192.168.1 try pinging the router ("ping" at the command prompt).

It also wouldn't hurt to reset the router (use a pencil to hold in the recessed switch for 30 seconds or so) but since it is new that probably won't do much. Do you have another computer you can try connecting to the wireless router? A friend's laptop or smart phone?
posted by ChrisHartley at 11:52 AM on December 5, 2010

Just an obvious thing to check - windows will think it's connected to a wireless network, even if it isn't, if you're using the wrong wireless password. I assume you're using the default SSID, and the correct password that's associated with your new router? You can delete the wireless profile and re-enter it, or you can use the admin interface via wired connection to change the SSID and password to something new and momorable, which you should be promoted for when you try to connect via the new SSID name.
posted by ArkhanJG at 12:30 PM on December 5, 2010

Have you tried calling either Insight or Linksys? I know they make you go through some painfully tedious things (making sure it's plugged in, etc) but the ISP and router support lines I've called have always been successful in getting me online. And when I called Frontier most recently, I told them I know about computers and they skipped the tedious stuff and talked to me like I knew what I was doing, thankfully.
posted by IndigoRain at 4:36 PM on December 5, 2010

I can't figure out how this would happen from anything I did, but I've now lost any internet access at all. (Save through my phone which is how I'm posting this.) Both wired and wirelessly, through the new router or the old (working fine, last I knew) one, using my main computer I had been trying to connect or a backup on which I hadn't changed any settings, and even when connecting a computer directly to the cable modem without any router in between. I can still connect to either router and see the admin screens.

So if there's anything good about that, at least it puts the current problem squarely on Insight's shoulders, and I'll call them tomorrow. Still, I can't imagine how my earlier issues were related to that.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:18 PM on December 5, 2010

Oh, and the indicator lights on the cable modem say it's working normally and connected, of course.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:39 PM on December 5, 2010

I saw in another AskMe that Comcast is having DNS troubles - try changing your DNS to (Google's DNS server). You can change it in the window where you confirmed that your computer was obtaining it's IP address automatically - just put the address in the DNS box and click the second radio button to activate it.
posted by ChrisHartley at 4:58 AM on December 6, 2010

Thanks for the heads-up on the Comcast problems, CH. Internet is now back through the original router (didn't need to change the DNS settings). I'm assuming that was the cause of the total internet outage yesterday and is unrelated to the problems I'm having specific to the new router. Now to play around with that some more.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 5:47 PM on December 6, 2010

So here's some fascinating new data—I think I've at least narrowed down the problem a bit.

First, to answer ChrisHartley's question, ipconfig showed that my computer was being assigned an IP address correctly (, in one instance), but I could not ping the router at—it timed out. (When wired to the router, the computer pinged as expected.) This leads me to think that ArkhanJG is on the right track: the computer doesn't actually have a connection to the router, even though it reports that it does. However, this persisted even when I changed the SSID and password, so it's not that.

But here's the really interesting bit: on ChrisHartley's suggestion, I pulled out an older laptop I rarely use anymore, still running Windows XP. I couldn't get that to connect wirelessly to the router at all. So I started playing around with the wireless security settings on the router, and when I turned it off entirely, I got a wireless connection to the internet through the router, which worked on either computer! Playing around with it a bit more, I could also get an internet connection with the router set to WEP security, either 40-bit or 104-bit. Only when the router is set to WPA Personal, WPA2 Personal, or WPA2/WPA mixed-mode do the computers fail to connect.

  • With the router on WPA Personal, the Vista computer asks for the password but does not connect; the XP asks for the password, then gives a popup saying "Windows was unable to find a certificate to log you on to the network [SSID]" and then keeps saying that it's "Validating Identity" without going any farther.
  • On WPA2 Personal as well as WPA2/WPA mixed-mode (the latter of which is the router default) the Vista computer gives results as described before (asks for the password, appears to connect to the router but not the internet, but reports as unreachable when I try to ping it); the XP does the same as on WPA Personal except without asking for the password at all.
I removed the SSID from the preferred network list on each computer before trying a new router setting, so they should have been connecting to each de novo.

I know it's not a question of having the wrong password, as I typed in the wrong password by accident one time (on the Vista computer, router on WPA2/WPA mixed) and got a specific message that I had given the wrong password, which I did not see during any other password attempt, so the connection was at least getting to the point that it accepted the password as correct.

Also note I had the old router (which successfully provides a wireless internet connection to both computers) set to WPA, so it's not (at least not only) an issue with the computers being unable to connect to WPA.

Does this suggest any next steps I should try? I'm almost inclined to just leave the new router on WEP except a) I understand that's considered not very good from a security standpoint, and b) you can't get an 802.11n connection through WEP—which isn't an issue at the moment since neither of my computers have 802.11n adapters, but I expect I'll have a computer with 802.11n in the future.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:50 PM on December 6, 2010

Never underestimate the abilities of Windows to screw up wireless security and fail silently. It really sounds like a password or encryption protocol mismatch problem, despite the steps you took to avoid that. Unfortunately this isn't something I deal with enough to be of much additional help beyond the things you already did (delete network, futz around with different security settings, etc).

From the command prompt while connected with WPA you can type ipconfig /renew to renew your DHCP address and refresh the routing table. That might be worth a shot - if it fails then you confirmation that Windows was lying and you are not actually connected.

You are correct that WEP is fairly worthless and to be avoided when possible.
posted by ChrisHartley at 9:05 PM on December 6, 2010

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