How can I get back my wireless functionality?
July 28, 2006 2:26 PM   Subscribe

Yesterday my wireless connection to my home network on my Windows XP laptop kept dropping and I had to reconnect. Since then, wireless networks kept randomly disappearing from my list, and now mine plus all the neighbors' networks except one are gone and no amount of refreshing or restarting brings them back. I can still connect to the Internet through a wired connection. How can I get back my wireless functionality?
posted by Nikolai to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Have you unplugged both your cable modem (or DSL) and your wireless router, counting to 20 and then plugging them both back in, then restarting your computer and trying to reconnect?

Also, go into your Wireless Connection advanced properties and look for the list of all the networks that you've connected to in the past. Delete them all.
posted by k8t at 2:41 PM on July 28, 2006

I would call the wireless provider's tech support.

Then again, I'm a glutton for punishment.
posted by Lucie at 2:43 PM on July 28, 2006

Have you talked to your neighbors? It could be just you or it could be some sort of local interference.
posted by nathan_teske at 2:45 PM on July 28, 2006

Have you tried:

Updating the wireless driver?

Changing the channel of your WAP. Pick either 1, 6, or 11?

A different laptop (or wireless card) to see if you get the same results?
posted by the ghost of Ken Lay at 2:47 PM on July 28, 2006

Your wireless card may be coming unseated. (It's probably a PCI card inside the laptop.) This has recently happened to my Fujitsu and it's going to have to go in for service, as this card is not accessible without disassembling the laptop. Fortunately I have a 3-year warranty...
posted by kindall at 2:52 PM on July 28, 2006

You could be suffering from a neighbor with brand new 2.4 GHz cordless phone. Most of them aren't very wireless friendly. You might try changing the channel on your wireless access point to see if this fixes it.

My neighborhood goes through a cyclical process whenever a new phone shows up. We all start changing the channels on our wireless access points until we end up on one that has the lowest amount of interference. It's like musical chairs for adults.
posted by idlemind at 2:54 PM on July 28, 2006 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: k8t: Did both of those, no luck.

Lucie and nathan: Considering doing that.

Ken Lay: Updated the drivers already, don't have alternate devices to use at the moment, and is changing the WAP channel something I do to my laptop, or my router?

Kindall: Although I hope it's not, that may be why.
posted by Nikolai at 3:00 PM on July 28, 2006

In order of operations:

1) Unplug, wait 30 seconds, and reconnect your cable modem. 3 to 5 minutes later (to allow cable modem time to obtain its network address and gateway & DNS info from the cable company):

2) Unplug, wait 30 seconds, reconnect your wireless router. 2-3 minutes later (to give wireless router time to get WAN address from cable modem, above):

3) Do a cold reboot of your laptop, thus clearing the ARP cache, reloading the network stack and wireless card drivers, obtaining a fresh DHCP address lease with current DNS info, and verifying network connectivity. If this reboot does not automatically reconnect you to your last wireless network, you may have to go through discovery and selection of available wireless networks, and supply any needed passwords or pass phrases for connecting to WPA or WEP secured access points.

Don't rush the reset process of the cable modem and wireless router. If you continue to have problems, you should be able to get into the router's admin page via a wired connection to whatever your router's LAN address is ( for the default Linksys products address), and see what the status page and logs (if any) have to say.

If you still can't get a reliable wirelesss connection after doing these steps, and have tried it from within a few feet of your access point, you've either got a failed access point (router), a bad wireless card, or substantial interference from a new source (wireless phone, microwave oven, or even an electrically noisy PC or other electronic gadget). You can at least eliminate your wireless card and laptop as the source of trouble by taking them to a nearby coffee shop or bookstore offering free wireless access, and trying to connect there. If you do that successfully, the problem is either your wireless router or interference.
posted by paulsc at 3:06 PM on July 28, 2006 [1 favorite]

Reset your router back to factory defaults and set it up from scratch.
posted by k8t at 3:14 PM on July 28, 2006

I might have missed something, but it could be that it's your laptop's hardware or software, not the router. Have you checked the problem with another computer, either using the same wireless card/dongle or a different one?
posted by drmarcj at 8:26 PM on July 28, 2006

Defintiely try another known-working computer, as drmarcj suggests. It may be that one of your neighbors has a new 2.4GHz cordless phone or x10 wireless video camera that stomps over all Wi-Fi.
posted by todbot at 9:36 PM on July 28, 2006

If you haven't already, upgrade your version of XP to SP2. The Wireless support via SP2 is VERY much how you describe, and updating the Zero Config Wireless might help.

Good Luck.
posted by gregschoen at 2:03 AM on July 31, 2006

« Older Women Born Rich, Made Good?   |   Help me graduate! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.