How to Fix Wireless Networking Problems

Posted May 24, 2007 12:00 pm by with 27 comments

It is quite easy to build a wireless network these days. Most broadband service providers throw in a free wireless router with installation. All you need is a wireless network adapter in your computer. If you have a late-model computer, especially a laptop, it probably has wireless networking already built in. If not, just stick in a USB wireless network adapter and you are on your way.

While they are easy to install, wireless networks often have performance problems:

  •  Your computer may show a very weak signal strength
  • Telephones, microwaves, or other appliances may interfere with the wireless signal
  • The signal quality may fluctuate, or even disappear altogether, in different parts of your office or home
  • The connection may be very slow

Here is how you can improve the performance of you underperforming wireless network:

1.  Move wireless router to a better location

The biggest culprit for weak signals is the location of routers. Many routers are installed at less than ideal locations – under tables, in closets, in corners on the floor, and basements to name just a few. Many are installed near the outer wall of a building. This results in weak signals on the other end of the building.

It is often difficult to move a router too far away once it is installed. But it may be possible to move it by a couple of feet. Try moving it off the floor and away from the walls. If it is inside a closet, you may be able to get it out simply by drilling a hole in the wall for the cable.

2. Move wireless router away from other wireless equipment

Most wireless networks operate at 2.4MHz, the same frequency as older cordless telephones and other wireless gadgets. Signals from these gadgets may interfere with your router’s signals. You can try moving you router away from such equipment (or the equipment away from the router if you can’t move the router).

Another possible solution may be to upgrade your phones to newer ones which operate at 5.8MHz.

3. Get a high-gain antenna for your wireless router

If you can’t more the router, you can try replacing your router’s antenna with a high-gain antenna. You can’t replace antennas on all routers, but you can do so on many newer models.

Antennas on most routers have 360 degree coverage. If your router is located in one cornet of the building, a good part of its coverage area will lie outside the building. In such cases, you can get unidirectional high-gain antennas which transmit signals in 180 or even 90 degrees. Again, you must have router which allows you to replace its antennas.

4. Install a repeater

A repeater is a device for boosting wireless signals across greater distances. If your router’s signal is weak in a certain location in the building, you can place a repeater half way between the router and the location to boost the signal strength.

5. Upgrade your router’s firmware

Log in to your router’s administration interface. You will usually find an option to upgrade its firmware. Most people install routers and forget about them. You may be surprised to find that your router has several firmware upgrades that you haven’t applied.

6. Try changing your router’s broadcast channel

Most cordless telephones have a little button on the handsets which you can press to change the channel if there is noise on the line. Like cordless telephones, routers broadcast on many channels too. You may be experiencing weak or noisy signals simply because your router broadcasts on a channel that doesn’t work well at your location. Try changing the channel. You will find an option to change the channel in your router’s administration interface.

If fixes at the router end of your network don’t work very well, you can try fixes at the other end — your computer.

7. Update the network adapter on your computer

If you have a desktop computer with an internal network card, try using a USB network adapter instead. These adapters usually have an antenna of their own to better capture signals. Laptops with on-board network adapters are usually fine; you don’t need to replace them. But if you use a card adapter with your laptop, try getting one with an external antenna.

8. Update your computer’s network adapter drivers

Just as a router has firmware upgrades, the network adapter in your computer have driver updates. You can find driver updates at the adapter manufacturer’s website or at Windows Update web site.

If the signal strength doesn’t improve, you could try replacing your wireless router and network cards. You may have an old router which is based on the older 802.11b networking standard. 802.11g is the newer standard. 802.11g devices are several times faster that 802.11b devices. (802.11b devices operate an 11Mbps while 802.11g devices operate at 54 Mbps.)

802.11g devices are also backward compatible with 802.11b devices. In other words, if you buy a new 802.11g router, it will still work with the 802.11b network adapters in your computers. Still, if you upgrade your router to 802.11g, for best results you should consider upgrading network adapters in your computer to 802.11g as well.

If you decide to do so, consider buying extended-performance 802.11g devices which operate at twice the speed–108Mbps. But keep in mind that if you buy extended performance devices, you must buy all of them from a single manufacturer. Most manufacturers such as Netgear, Linksys, and D-Link make extended-performance 802.11g devices but they are not necessarily interoperable with devices from other manufacturers.

And if none of these solutions work, forget about wireless and go back to good old wired networking!

27 responses to How to Fix Wireless Networking Problems

  1. dj February 4th, 2008 at 11:04 pm

    Hi, my wirless shows strong strength and even indicates that it is connected, but nternet do not work. I get error ……windows was unable to find certificate to log you on ….network. Any suggestion? thanks

        Reply

  2. mez team support August 29th, 2008 at 8:41 pm

    may be you can check your network service again, and reset your wireless router.

        Reply

  3. Ben September 3rd, 2008 at 11:54 pm

    I’ve tried a few ways to increase my wireless network and have found that using a piece of wire as an antenna works excellently, much the same as your alarm clock radio.

        Reply

  4. Kyle September 28th, 2008 at 7:44 am

    I Have a d-link wirless system and when i connect to it it says its connecting but it still shows its not connected

        Reply

  5. Jeswin October 13th, 2008 at 11:29 am

    Hi,

    I am an university student. There is a big wireless problem here in our college which the authorities just cannot find out. It is also very weird. I dont get internet in my room whereas my neighbour next door gets internet perfectly. We are only seperated by a thin wall and a small whisper can be heard easily in our rooms. The router is just at the end of our corridor (only a few stepd from my room) above the ceiling.

    My signal is always shown as ‘excellent’. But when I open Internet explorer it says ‘Page cannot be displayed’. And in the status of my internet wireless connection it shows some numbers in the ‘sent’ part of the activity but nothing in the ‘receive’ part.

    Why is that my neighbour gets internet whereas I dont? This applies to many students in the college. The authorities brought some so-called ‘Broadband’ specialists into the college and they said they fixed it and went away. They did not even bother to check if its working in every rooms and corridors.

    Could you please help me with some valuable information on what could be the problem here?

    Thank you very much.

        Reply

  6. Andrew November 1st, 2008 at 6:41 pm

    Hi,

    My laptop has a wireless adapter but it wont connect to my wireles modem/router unless connecting via usb adapter. Without it, it says to update authenticfation protocol or something can anyone help??

        Reply

  7. Margie Feldkamp November 23rd, 2008 at 11:24 pm

    I have a netgear wireless router. I downloaded the software to my laptop and had to call netgear to configure it so it would have wireless. My one laptop now has wireless. I tried to connect to my wireless through my ipod touch and it will not work. The wireless shows up on the ipod and it ask for my password (which i think is my network key) and it will not let me join. I brought my brothers computer over and it does the same thing. I called netgear and they were no help. So i thought I would give you a try. I have heard good things.

    Thanks

        Reply

  8. Diane December 1st, 2008 at 6:59 am

    Hi have set up wireless adapter to connect to my partners pc in newt room .Shows excellent every thing is green computer to router but router to internet shows red no connection can any one help

        Reply

  9. Kevin February 8th, 2009 at 1:02 am

    I see many people reading this article looking for support with wifi wireless issues. All the above information is spot on however if you are looking for support why not look here.

    Wireless broadband support

    Wireless broadband aerials and adapters

        Reply

  10. Sarah February 19th, 2009 at 12:56 am

    I have a wireless router/modem. The problem I have is that the Mbps signal I get from the wireless starts out at 54mbps, then drops to 24mbps, and finally to 1mbps. I have to use the repair functions on my labtop to get back that 54mbps. My roommates have no problem with the signal connection. The wireless is on the second story of our townhouse on the floor of my room. My friend said to try and put it downstairs b/c the signal travels up and out…does anyone think that would be beneficial or do you think something is wrong on my labtop’s end? Thanks.

        Reply

  11. Phill February 24th, 2009 at 10:55 am

    Did anyone else notice the author put 2.4MHZ and 5.8MHZ instead of GHZ….

        Reply

  12. Philip March 1st, 2009 at 7:58 pm

    my wireless router all of a sudden turned off and wont turn on anymore is it broken and i have to buy a new one or is there some way to fix this

        Reply

    • Thomas March 25th, 2009 at 4:21 pm

      My laptop did not connect to the internet after I installed a LinkSys wireless card. After a lot of frustation and troubleshooting, I finally found the problem. The linksys card had a site monitor that once disable allowed me to connect to the internet. That was the problems. I am posting because I found the solution on my own. I have been surfing to find out if someone else figured the problem like I did but could not find anyone. Now you know the solution to your wireless problem.

          Reply

  13. MAGS March 28th, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    HI THE ONLY PROBLEM I AM HAVING ON MY WIRELESS CONNECTION IS WITH INSTANT MESSENGERS, IT TAKES AT LEAST 5 MINS TO SEND AND RECEIVE MESSAGES BUT WORKS FINE WHEN I USE THEM ON CABLE. MAGS

        Reply

  14. Jeff T March 29th, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    My laptop say I have an excellent connection but when I try to get on internet explorer it says cannot find internet page. The Funny thing is I can connect using a neighbors signal that is much weaker. Any suggestions?

        Reply

  15. Problemed August 18th, 2009 at 11:31 am

    my laptops problem is that i have wireless in it bu i turn it on and it says its off and the only way i get internet is by having the wire to connect laptop to o2 wireless box and the wierdest part is that when i go in network connections it says ive never had wireless internet but about month back i did

        Reply

  16. Deadheat November 1st, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    I have a problem with my wireless. I used a wireless internet on the train whilst going home and from then on i have been unable to locate other wireless networks which previously worked. Then when i got back on the train a few days later it worked again on the train. I have now returned to my student house and it is unable to find the wireless here.

    Any suggestions?

        Reply

  17. Bill December 21st, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    I have a wireless network at home with multiple PCs and laptops connect to it without any problem. My daughter came home with her new laptop running Windows 7 this past week and wanted to get access to the internet. I use MAC address filtering on my wireless router so I put in her MAC address. Her laptop tries to connect to the network, but failed. In the mean time, it stopped all other connections from working. Once I disable her machine, all other PCs and laptops can be back to the network. I then tried the Ethernet card connection from her laptop and got the same result. Is this something to do with Windows 7 or my wireless router not compatible with Windows 7?

        Reply

  18. Glenn January 15th, 2010 at 9:44 pm

    I have same problem as “Bill ” above…..windows 7 , new laptop does not connect right to linksys router wirelessly , ethernet works fine , just the wireless , something very complicated is happenning and I do not know what or how to fix this, it’s either to routers fault or possibly windows 7 fault…..don’t know which is at fault , I just wish both companies would get together and resolve this with everyone. after all we are buying all this hardware and we want it to connect wirelessly as it should.

        Reply

  19. Travis February 28th, 2010 at 9:29 am

    My wireless works but sometimes and it’s randomly but the wireless will stop working though it still says it’s connected and I have to restart my computer to get it to work again.

        Reply

  20. mark March 13th, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    Hi,

    My laptop has a wireless adapter but it wont connect to my wireles modem/router unless connecting via usb adapter

        Reply

  21. me May 9th, 2010 at 8:21 am

    i have a wireless Avdent mini notbook and the wireless doesn’t work any more! When I first got it it did work wireless! i have tried adding a new internet server and new conections but it just doesn’t work! any suggestions? please help

        Reply

  22. AK June 4th, 2010 at 10:40 pm

    Here’s a fix that I never found written up….but it sure cleared up my problem after 4 days of fussin!! CHECK YOUR SWITCH TO SEE IF YOUR LAPTOP WIRELESS is ON or OFF!!! :-) Sure felt stupid. I had re-loaded my network….my wireless….and read countless websites……but I kept getting “Wireless Network Not Connected.” A simple flip of the switch on the front of the laptop fixed it!! Hope this helps someone else!!

        Reply

  23. me July 4th, 2010 at 7:21 am

    as for me, i hve a very strange problem. I have a wireless network. some computers can connect to the internet in a very normal way but some computers can't connect inspite of being able to ping and tracert sny global website like google, facebook or any other website.
    it's very strange.
    can any one help me please

        Reply

  24. Sean August 15th, 2010 at 8:29 pm

    I have the Same Problem Except that When I connect it works fine… and every so often the Wifi Crashes and We have to reset it… One Day a popup box came up and said that this laptop and the Desktop Computer (this computer has the modem and Wifi Box) had the same Ip… So I Changed the IP on my Laptop and hope it fixes the problem…

        Reply

  25. kenneth October 10th, 2010 at 10:37 pm

    I have a netgear dg834g router that is a 2 in 1 ie, a fixed line (adsl) router with built in wireless network connection router. on my pc i created 2 internet connections. 1 for the adsl internet connection so i could use that to connect to the internet through adsl phone line.also i created a wireless connection on my pc so i could use my netgear wg111 v2 usb wireless network adapter with & through the wireless network side of my netgear dg834g router.i could use either one or even both at the same time.now since i canceled adsl broadband on the phone line & the phone line is not active i am now unable to access the internet via the wireless side of the netgear dg834g wireless network router.I was hoping & wanting to use the wireless network to access the internet.Should I still be able to access the internet with & by the wireless networking side even tho adsl phone line disable. ???.If i should why car’nt I or how do I go about using the wireless networking side ?.I would be extreemely appreciated if anyone can help solve my dialema please

        Reply

  26. michele August 1st, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    I am having issues connecting Samsung galaxy II cell to netgear n300 wireless router. signal is great but getting authentication error..can someone help?

        Reply

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