Diagnosing WiFi


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Troubleshooting Wireless Networking takes time and understanding of the devices.

Troubleshooting wireless networking errors may be a tedious task, these errors are harder to understand because there are two devices working simultaneously.

A transmitter and a receiver, these are radio transmissions. Yup you have a radio station in your computer and the device that it connects to is also a radio station.

I use these techniques:

The best way to resolve your problem is to be close to the access point or the wireless router. The reason being that you don't know if the radio signal is being blocked by a wall, the refrigerator, or something else when you are working on the problem. Line of sight is what it is called, you can see the device you want to connect to.

With computers you can also use the smaller condensed "Check list" to accomplish a single repair task.Next you need to be sure that the device is working and initialize when the computer starts. You can check this through the Device Manager either from the control panel or from the System Manager.

Once you have the Device manager open in the right window find Network Adapters, expand the section. Find your wireless adapter, does it have a red circle with an 'x' through it? If it does then it did not initialize when the computer started, go to  Troubleshooting Installed Devices. If it doesn't right click on the name and go to properties. Check to see if there is an error on the General page, if you have an error but no red dot with an 'X' in it, note the error and do a search for the error. If you don't have an error then the problem lies with the configuration of the adapter. First check the network properties, and then use the adapter utility to adjust the following items: SSID, Encryption, and channel.

When Troubleshooting Wireless Networking Observe ESD!

One of the problems with the embedded wireless adapters is that the driver(s) you can download will not do the complete job.

Troubleshooting wireless networking instructions:

You will need a utility that will enable you to setup the wireless parameters like:

  • the SSID (the name of the wireless network you need to connect to)
  • the encryption ( the security type and password)
  • the channel that the wireless access point is assigned.

I have access to three different types of wireless adapters, two are embedded in the motherboards of the computers and one is a USB adapter I bought for use in the field when I need to connect in an area with out wired network but there is a wireless network available.

Here are what the utilities look like:

The image, table, or PDF was removed because it will not display on your device. Check back on a PC....

Real Tek Wireless Lan

  Configure your wirless adapter, first step
  Real Tek wireless setup utility
  Adapter now see's the wireless access point, and is associated.
  Real Tek wireless found access point.
  Scan the area for access points.
  Real Tek wireless setup utility scan for available access points.
  The pramaters of the access point and the adapter
  Real Tek wireless setup utility paramaters of the access point and the adapter.

Atheros Client Utility

  Once you select the access point and associate, create a profile.
  Atheros wireless adapter setup utility
  Scan for available access points, high light the one you want to create a profile for.
  Atheros wireless adapter scanning for access points.
  Diagnostics if you want to test your signal strength and adapter settings.
  Atheros wireless adapter adapter diganostics, read only.
  Advanced settings, these are not changable information only.
  Atheros wireless adapter diagnostics dispaly.

Linksys USB Wireless Adapter

  Your link information.
  Linksys wireless setup utility.
  Scan for an access point.
  Linksys wireless setup scanning for access points.
  Select the access point then save it to a profile, this will be the default settings for the adapter.
  Linksys wireless setup, saving the access point to the default profile.

If you notice that all three of these adapters say connected but internet not found, the reason mine do this is because I am behind a firewall / proxy that is part of the router, I have between my computers and the internet connection. Yours may indicate it has found the internet, especially if you are using a WiFi Hotspot in an airport or internet cafe. If you are using hotspots be sure you have your built in firewall configured.

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One last thing, signal strength, you want to have a high quality signal. If you are at work or at home you have some control over the signal strength. At work you can point out to the Systems Administrator that the signal is not sufficient for your area, they may put a booster on the wireless access point or move you to an area where the signal is stronger. At home you can either move the computer, wireless access point, or put a signal booster on the wireless access point. A low signal strength will result in loss of data and the signal being dropped at the most in opportune time.

Troubleshooting Wireless Networking

One of the things I have found is that your search will take you far and wide and the manufactures do not always have the drivers and the setup utility.

Here is a very good resource for Windows hardware drivers, you do not have to be a member to download the driver you need. The site has a very nice selection of Vista drivers, I was able to find the Artheros GR5005 driver for a Acre laptop that the Acre company would not let me download with out signing up for a maintenance contract.

Looking for drivers? This web site has some of the harder ones to find: http://www.windrivers.com


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