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Tech Talk

Page history last edited by PBworks 16 years, 9 months ago

What To Do When . . . You Lose Your Wireless Connection


Now you have it; now you don’t.

Unfortunately, that’s the nature of wireless connections. One minute your notebook is accessing your home network; the next minute your connection is lost.

It’s not always possible to prevent a disrupted connection, but these troubleshooting tips can help you reconnect when a connection is lost.

Check All Connections

It’s tempting to overlook the possibility that any wireless connection problem could be due to a wire. But troubleshooting should always begin with the most obvious potential solution. In this case, make sure that everything that needs to be plugged in is plugged in.

For example, a wireless router must make several connections. First, it must be connected to a modem. Second, it must be connected to a computer. And third, it must be connected to a source of power. If the lights on the router that should be on are not on, you likely have a loose cord or plug. The same is true of the modem.

Find out whether your network adapter is compatible with your version of Microsoft Windows on the Windows Hardware Compatibility List.

So walk around your network and make sure that each hardware component that needs to be plugged in to a power source or other component is hooked up properly.


Free Up The Access Point


If all components are properly connected, then your next step is to check the network’s access point. If you are using a router, the access point is your router’s antenna(s). Ideally, the access point should be placed in the center of your network, and you should remove any objects that might obstruct or interfere with it. You may find, for instance, that moving your access point off the floor or a low shelf to a higher location will prevent objects from blocking the wireless signal.


Similarly, gadgets and appliances that operate on the same frequency as your network can interfere with the signal. For example, a cordless phone or microwave that operates on the 2.4GHz frequency could disrupt the signal of network based on either the Wireless B or Wireless G standardboth of which use that same frequency.


(NOTE: Wireless N also uses the 2.4GHz frequency, but it employs MIMO [multiple input/ multiple output] technology. This technology uses multiple radios to increase the number of transmission and reception streams, thereby increasing the speed and range of the network.)

Therefore, as much as possible, keep the access point away from other appliances or gadgets that use the 2.4GHz frequency.


Enable Your Wireless Network Adapter


Another simple solution to a lost connection is to make sure the wireless network adapter in your PC or notebook is working properly. The problem could be that the adapter is not inserted correctly. If you are using a notebook with a wireless network adapter, remove and then reinsert the adapter into the PC Card slot. Or, your notebook may have an on/off switch that controls the network adapter. If so, make sure that switch is turned on.

An outdated driver for your network adapter could be the problem of a lost connection. The manufacturer’s Web site should have updated drivers you can download at no cost.

If necessary, see if Windows is recognizing the adapter through the Device Manager. Click Start, Control Panel, Administrative Tools, Computer Management, and Device Manager. Find the name of your wireless adapter under System Devices and right-click it. Choose Properties and look on the General tab. It should indicate whether the device is working properly.


Change The Channel


If none of these solutions has re-established the wireless connection, try to change the channel on the access point.


To do this, open the Web-based utility you accessed when you set up your network. Typically, you can access an online utility for a router by entering the router’s default IP (Internet Protocol) address in your browser’s address field. You also may need to enter a username and password. After you get to the utility, find the wireless setup section and change the channel for the router. Save your changes and close the utility. Then, open the Device Manager, as described previously, and right-click your wireless network adapter. Choose Properties and on the Advanced tab, under Property, find the Channel Number. Switch the value to the same one you already chose for the access point, click OK, reboot your network, and try again.


Check The Hardware Compatibility List


Even if the network adapter is installed properly, it might still be the source of the problem if it is not compatible with the version of Windows you are running. Windows XP, for instance, supports wireless standards with the Wireless Zero Configuration service. But in order for this service to work, the adapter has to be compatible with WinXP.


To confirm or eliminate an incompatible adapter as the possible problem, go to the Microsoft Windows Hardware Compatibility List (winqual.microsoft.com/HCL).


First, choose Windows Vista or Windows XP in the gray bar at the top of the page. Next, in the Devices list on the left, choose Networking and Wireless Network Cards and then scan the names and model numbers of cards grouped by manufacturer. If the card is listed here, then you’ve eliminated incompatibility as the source of the connection problem.

Check to see if your network adapter is installed correctly and that Microsoft Windows recognizes it as working properly.

However, an outdated driver for an adapter could be the source of the dropped connection. Click the adapter name to view the manufacturer’s page on the Windows HCL Web site. That page lists the network adapter drivers that are available for download on the Windows Update Web site (update.microsoft.com).


Alternatively, you can go to the manufacturer’s Web site and look for an updated driver there. Look under the Support section for downloads.


Go The Distance


The typical range of networks using the Wireless B or Wireless G standard is about 150 feet, whereas a network based on the Wireless N standard has a reach of about two times (or more in optimal conditions) that distance.


If you’re using one of the older standards, the problem may just be that the desired range of your network is larger than what your hardware can achieve.


One solution, especially if you’re trying to get a network connection on multiple levels of a home or outside, is to use an expander. An expander will boost the network’s range into hard-to-reach areas of your home or office. Just plug it into an outlet within range of your router or access point. There’s no need to plug it into any other component of the network.

The expander will act as a relay station by bouncing the wireless signal along to the intended destination. One word of caution about this solution: While the expander will increase the range of your network, it also might slow down the signal.


Still, a slower, steady signal is better than one that comes and goes.  


compliments of  Rachel Derowitsch

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