WiFi connectivity problem at work
February 13, 2013 4:36 PM   Subscribe

At work I have a laptop (running Windows XP) that connects to the Internet via WiFi. Two other coworkers sit next to and across from me, and they connect the same way. About a year ago, we started experiencing connectivity problems.

Our connection just cuts out *snap* out of the blue. If I leave it alone, it will sometimes reconnect on its own. And sometimes it doesn’t. So to fix it manually, I go into the Wireless Connection Network screen. My office has three separate wireless networks it connects to (all with the same password). In the Wireless Connection screen it will show that I am connected to one of those three, with the other two (or sometimes just one) listed below. I click on one of the others, hit “connect”, and wait 10 seconds or so for it to connect over. Usually this works, but sometimes it doesn’t. Not right away; I have to manually do it several times.

Before about a year ago, we never had this problem. Now it’s a daily, constant problem. On a good day we can go for several hours without being kicked off, but today for example it’s every five minutes.

For my other two coworkers, they have the same problems. It’s a big, open plan office, and I think other workers either don’t use the Internet much at all or they have a wired LAN connection. Unfortunately, due to where our desks sit in the room, we can’t use a LAN connection, only wireless.

There are two WiFi routers in the room, and we tried turning them off and on, but that didn’t change anything. We’ve talked to our boss about it, but he’s been less than helpful…of course, this should be an issue for the company IT guy, but the thing is, we’re not really supposed to be surfing the Internet; our jobs don’t really necessitate it. So we don’t want to keep bringing the subject up—it’s a bit awkward.

Any thoughts? What could this problem be coming from?
posted by zardoz to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
If you know anyone who can loan you an external USB wireless adapter (or if you want to take a chance on buying one; they seem to only cost twenty or thirty bucks these days) you could try using that instead. If you and your cow-orkers' computers are all of similar vintage a recently-manufactured adapter may be more sophisticated than their internal network cards and able to overcome whatever issue is confounding them.

I think you might need to either be an administrator user on your computer or have your IT guy approve the driver installation after plugging it in, though.
posted by XMLicious at 5:41 PM on February 13, 2013

Are these work laptops? From your wording at the end it sounds like they are not, if they were work related you should bring up the issue with IT.

Do you have a smartphone you can try on the wifi network?
posted by wongcorgi at 6:24 PM on February 13, 2013

Response by poster: Yes, they are work laptops. I don't have administrator access, either; the WiFi password is asterisked (is that a word?) out.

I have brought it up to the IT department as well as my boss, and due to complicated office politics, they aren't inclined to fix the problem. I do have a workaround, manually switching the networks, but it's a PITA. I want to see if there's anything I can do on my own. For example, is there any software that, say, has the network automatically switch if the connection drops? I've looked a bit for something like that, but I'm in over my head and don't really know what I'm looking for.
posted by zardoz at 7:22 PM on February 13, 2013

Best answer: If you can, open a command window (start -> Run "cmd") and set up a permanent ping to the wifi access point. It might help keep the connection alive.

ping -t IP.ad.dre.ss

Don't know its IP address? Try running a tracert to any internet address. The first hit should be your WAP, and that's the one you want.
posted by Sunburnt at 8:01 PM on February 13, 2013

I would guess that the AP you connect to is rebooting itself.

Or there is a microwave or fluorescent light ballast near you that is malfunctioning.
posted by gjc at 3:48 AM on February 14, 2013

Response by poster: Sunburnt: I'm trying your suggestion now, hopefully that will work!
posted by zardoz at 3:59 PM on February 14, 2013

Response by poster: Doh! Nope, the connection dropped, as usual. Back to the ol drawing board.
posted by zardoz at 5:30 PM on February 14, 2013

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