Can't figure out wireless connection issue
November 26, 2012 12:22 PM   Subscribe

I can't connect to the wireless network-- have connected with other laptops and my smart phone just fine to this connection. Is there something I can change on my computer? I need to figure this out ASAP or I may have problems with applying for jobs and doing my schoolwork!

I share a connection with 2 other people—none of them have had any problems connecting to the network through phones/laptops/game consoles. I have an HP dv6-7122he laptop that runs Windows 7 Home Premium edition. I’m not sure the exact model of wireless modem, but it’s a newer model rented from Comcast/Xfinity/Whatever they call themselves now. Last year, I had an HP netbook that did not have this issue. My android phone also has not had this issue with the wireless connection. This has been going on with this wireless connection since I purchased this laptop in July. I’ve never been able to use this connection with this computer. I was lucky enough to have a neighbor who has been letting me use her connection, but she is moving out of her apartment and once that happens, obviously her wireless is going to go with her. I need wireless for school and would not be able to purchase direct internet for my home until January. I can connect to other wireless connections fine (although I will admit that I’ve had problems with two other connections but the public connection at school fixed itself when I changed it from a public connection to a "home connection")….

When I try to log-in to the wireless network, it says it’s ‘identifying’ for longer than usual, and then it will come up with small exclamation point logo and tell me that it’s an unidentified public network. I cannot change it to a home network. I have also reset the router hoping that would solve the problem, but it does not. Sometimes it will connect randomly to Google for me, but then it stops working. When I try to diagnose the problem using Windows Network Diagnostics, it just tells me to reset the router. I’ve done this several times and it does not work. I know this is a relatively common problem, but I don’t know how to fix it. Please help?
posted by camylanded to Technology (11 answers total)
Are you running iTunes or anything else that runs Bonjour on that PC by any chance?
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 12:27 PM on November 26, 2012

Response by poster: No. The only thing I use music-wise is Spotify which I'm assuming does not mess with a connection...
posted by camylanded at 12:31 PM on November 26, 2012

I think in the Network and Sharing Center, on the left pane, there is an option for 'Manage network connections'. If my memory serves (since I'm not currently on Win7) you should be able to open that and view any settings your computer has automatically saved from the previous times you've tried to connect to that router. If you delete that, will it let you set up the correct settings next time you try to connect?
posted by trogdole at 1:01 PM on November 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I deleted the connection and recreated it-- when I troubleshoot it now, it tells me first that I need to reset the router-- after that is completed and I troubleshoot it, it says the default gateway is not available.
posted by camylanded at 1:11 PM on November 26, 2012

Possibly worth $15 to try....Hop on out to the local tech store or office supply big-box and pick up a 'USB Wireless adapter' (probably labeled with 802.11 and N or G). It'll look like a USB memory stick. Shouldn't be more than $20.

But inside it, instead of storage, is a set of (jargon for magic stones and unicorn eyelashes that do wireless networking). There may be something wrong or broken with the wireless networking set built into your laptop, which would explain it not being able to connect. For not much money you can pick up a second set on a USB stick, jam it in a USB port and install it on your system, then try again to see if you can connect to your wireless network.

If you can connect fine using the USB wireless adapter, but not with the wireless adapter that's built into the laptop, then a) you got your wireless back for the cost of $20 and a thing you keep sticking out of one or your USB ports and b) you know what's broken - it's the wireless inside the laptop.

Non-functioning internal wireless might mean anything from bad drivers (the software that makes it talk to Windows) to bad hardware, and you can work on that when you have the opportunity/desire. But in the meantime, try the $20 solution.
posted by bartleby at 2:08 PM on November 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

3 Years IT experience.

The simplest things that you can try is reinstalling the wireless driver in your computer. go to start>run and type devmgmt.msc. A list of devices will pop up. Go the the Network adapters section and right click on the wireless card in your laptop, it should say something like Wireless or wifi, and click uninstall. Next, hover over the icons in the device manager window until you find the one that says "scan for hardware changes." Click it. The driver should be automatically installed. Try connecting to your network.

If that doesn't work, something that has worked for me periodically is opening a cmd window with administrator privileges, and type "netsh winsock reset", then restart your computer.

I've spent hours trying to get laptops to connect to a networks. There are several things that could be messed up, and there are several times that I've ended up reinstalling windows because it refused to work. Hopefully your laptop won't be that stubborn. Good luck. :/
posted by NotSoSiniSter at 2:36 PM on November 26, 2012 [3 favorites]

First, he can connect to a neighbors wireless so the wireless in the laptop is working. Try googling the laptop model and the router model to see if somebody else is having the same problem. Sometimes things don't play together. Also make sure you are connected to the right router. "Unidentified public network" doesn't sound right to me unless you have no security whatsoever set up.
posted by Ferrari328 at 3:04 PM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I am most definitely connected to the right router, so that is not an issue here. Also, obviously my wireless card in my laptop works since I'm able to connect to some networks and not others.
posted by camylanded at 3:10 PM on November 26, 2012

Best answer: It's the "I can connect to some networks and not others", coupled with experiences like NotSoSiniSter's (hours spent shouting 'why won't you work, dammit!') that led me to recommend the expedient solution of trying a secondary adapter for $20 to connect.

There can be incompatibilities deeply embedded in the 802.11 comm stack and associated hardware, and they can be pretty arcane. You may not want to spend a whole lot of time wrestling with a rare-but-known issue between certain specific Broadcomm chipsets and the firmware in certain Belkin wireless routers; a flaw somewhere in their handshake protocol causes a Belkin router set to WPA2 w/TKIP appear as WEP encrypted with a lot of packet loss, and no amount of firmware flashing or driver updates will solve it. someone who does this for a living but knows not everyone else finds it worth their time...follow the advice posted here. Find out the exact wireless chipset in your laptop, mess with its drivers. Dive deeply into forums. Get in a fight with your ISP about the crap hardware they give out and maybe decide to roll your own DD-WRT box instead. You will definitely learn a lot, both about technology and your own capacities for patience and frustration.

But...if (when) that doesn't work out for you, or you want to skip all that and move on to doing more conventionally fun things with your life, you can get going again with everything you have right now, as it is right now, plus a $20 USB adapter and 15 minutes to install it.
posted by bartleby at 4:40 PM on November 26, 2012 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for your input Bartleby... I actually can't believe I hadn't thought of that before. I had a usb wireless connector for a PC I had some point... I can't find it, but it looks like Wal-Mart has the same model I had (which I know for sure works for this modem) for 12 bucks-- can't beat that. Glad you were able to think of it for me! :)
posted by camylanded at 2:38 PM on November 27, 2012

Response by poster: As a follow up before I close out this post, I wanted to say that Bartleby was correct. While not the fastest. I'm now using my old (and now outdated) wireless usb adapter (I'm on the connection I couldn't get on before now, as a matter of fact) and while the connection is not as fast thanks to said outdated adapter, I will still have internet now thanks to his advice! It's still slightly frustrating to think that the wireless card within my 4 month old laptop is faulty, but at least I have a resolution to this. I hope it helps out someone else!
posted by camylanded at 12:59 PM on December 2, 2012

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