Why does my router/ISP hate my new laptop?
May 10, 2012 2:34 AM   Subscribe

Why on earth is my laptop – and only my laptop – causing our ADSL modem/router to constantly disconnect and reconnect to our ISP? I’m having some serious issues with a new laptop I purchased about

I’m having some serious issues with a new laptop I purchased about three weeks ago. It’s a HP Pavilion dv6-6b51sa running Windows 7 64 bit. Ever since I got it, it’s been causing big problems with our home network.

We’re using a Netgear Dg834gv5 wireless router to connect to Virgin Media in the UK. And every time I connect to it with the new laptop, its connection to the ISP becomes very patchy. The “Internet” light flickers on and off, and rarely stays connected for more than about five minutes. It will then reconnect within a minute or two and start the whole cycle again. This effects everybody on the network, and occurs whether I connect via wifi or an Ethernet cable.

Frankly, I'm networking illiterate. And I have no idea what could be causing this problem. I've performed a factory reset on the laptop, so I'm pretty sure it's not related to any software I've installed.

Beyond this, I have no idea what to try. One thing I haven't managed to do yet is try it out on a different network. I'm going to try and get that done tomorrow. But I would be so very grateful if any technically-minded people could suggest something to try, maybe a starting point, so that I can try and get this problem fixed.

I'm otherwise very happy with the laptop and this is ruining my experience - and we're a house of heavy internet users, so I feel terrible for inflicting crappy up-and-down ADSL on my housemates just so I can enjoy any Internet access at all.

Please hope me!

Here's some other information that may be relevant: it seems our download speed has been throttled lately, with our download speeds maxing out at about 60kbps. This is probably due to the aforementioned heavy use. But despite the slow speeds, the connection is stable when my laptop isn't connected.

Also, I think there's a problem with our phone line. Our landline connects to the same socket as the ADSL router, and when we lift the handset there's no dial tone, it's completely non-functional. The same applies to any phone we plug in. We don't really use it for phone calls so that's not been a big issue for us.

If there's any other information that would help get this sorted, I'll be able to provide it in a few hours when I get home from work.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and for any help you can give. AskMetafilter is such an interesting and knowledgeable place and I feel bad for cluttering it up with my personal tech support issues, but I can't think of anywhere else that might be able to help me.
posted by Ted Maul to Computers & Internet (9 answers total)
When you have the problems. The laptop is the only device using the network? 60kbps is painfully slow, so I would expect connections to time out if multiple devices are trying to download at the same time.

You have installed all the driver updates for the laptop and are running the latest firmware on the router?
posted by Z303 at 3:42 AM on May 10, 2012

Hi - thanks for the response. I've tried it with just mine and my housemate's computer on the network, and the connection drops occur. I've not had a chance to try it with my laptop alone, but when it's not connected it can support 2 or 3 devices with stability (albeit very slowly).

As for drivers, I've downloaded the drivers for my Intel wireless network adapter today at work. I'll try them when I get home. I'll try and find the ones for the ethernet connection too. But because the problem occurs whether I'm on ethernet or wireless, I'm not sure if it's one specific driver that's causing the problem. Is there a more general network driver which controls these two I should be looking out for?

Instructed housemate to try and get the latest firmware up and running today. Fingers crossed!
posted by Ted Maul at 4:02 AM on May 10, 2012

Are you sure you are not using a static IP address that is clashing with others in use ?
posted by stuartmm at 4:26 AM on May 10, 2012

Our landline connects to the same socket as the ADSL router, and when we lift the handset there's no dial tone, it's completely non-functional. The same applies to any phone we plug in.

If this is happening, then there's something seriously wrong with the DSL modem and/or the phone line.

A misconfigured or old driver on the laptop simply shouldn't be able to do that. Also: unless you can find reports online documenting the same problem you're suffering from, it's highly unlikely that the router firmware is to blame (it is, after all, a device that's presumably owned by many people who have the same DSL service and laptop as you who are using it without any trouble).

I have no idea why your laptop is triggering the problem, but I would definitely look into getting a new ADSL router/modem and having your local phone company test the line for faults.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 4:35 AM on May 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

Thanks Ron, that's helpful. For what it's worth the issue with the phone line has been going on for longer than this problem. I'm not sure they're related, but it's definitely worth trying to sort it out.

A new router is probably a good idea. I'll look into it.
posted by Ted Maul at 4:51 AM on May 10, 2012

No dial tone means that there's a fault on your line. The drop in download speed and general unreliability is almost certainly due to this. Even if you have a problem with the laptop itself, I would definitely get this fixed first - I'm speaking from experience here, wasting hours messing around with router settings and whatnot before solving the obvious problem (:
posted by iivix at 9:04 AM on May 10, 2012

You should have what they call a filter (a small gizmo that plugs into the outlet; you plug your phone into that gizmo) on any phone or device, other than the modem. Otherwise you can get all sorts of wonky results. Try disconnecting all the phones, fax machines etc. And see if that helps.

Since you have restored the laptop to factory condition, I would rule that out at the moment.

I do not like how things are running even without the new laptop attached.

There can also be configuration problems in the pre-existing setup.. Find a friend who is a bit knowledgable about networking and make sure that the physical network addresses (MAC addresses) are different. (Some machines, for whatever reason have trouble with routers so they clone or copy the MAC address; that can cause weirdness.) Have him or her check the setup of your modem. You want enough addresses available in the DHCP pool and, if MAC filtering is enabled, take it off. You also need to examine the other computers that are connecting. They may be misconfigured. Most people have a router that assigns addresses on demand. But if a machine on the network is also configured to share access to the Internet, that will also cause trouble. If you are using static addresses make sure they are different (and not an illegal address). Probably best to just use dynamic addresses until the issue is cleared up.

Normally, I would just suggest you reset the modem and see if that clears your problem but you need to re-enable security ASAP. Do you have enough knowledge to do that?
posted by PickeringPete at 9:19 AM on May 10, 2012

Do you know which wi-fi adapter is in your laptop? HP just released an update for the Ralink type, it is a download you just run. HP uses two manufacturers for this chip, and the update applies to just the Ralink chip. You can just download and install, if it would not apply to your machine, it will just abort itself. Ignore the laptop model numbers listed on this page, it is the same update if it applies on your machine. Just download and run from this page:

HP support link (US link)
posted by caclwmr4 at 10:23 AM on May 10, 2012

Thanks to all - I installed the newest Intel wireless adapter drivers last night, and either that - or unplugging our telephone handset from the crapped-out line - appears to have solved the problem.

Of course, we've still got horribly throttled internet service - but at least we can browse with relative ease while we try to sort out whatever's wrong with our router or line.

Thanks again!
posted by Ted Maul at 1:29 AM on May 11, 2012

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