One of the biggest problems I come across, is when someone can't get their PC connected to their wireless home network. Yet, it seems to connect everywhere else but in their house.
Before I get the chance to look at it, I hear a long laundry list of things that were attempted to get the wireless connection working. Like re-typing the encryption password a thousand times, "rebooting the router first then my PC" (and a dozen other different ways), even moving the PC closer to the router.
Nothing works 🙁
But there are always two things missing in that list, if checked, may have saved hours of frustration and allowed more hours of surfing the web.
The "Usual" Culprit
The biggest item that can easily trip you up when troubleshooting wireless connection problems is NOT checking the wireless speed configuration on the router and PC.
Wireless speeds are 802.11 b/g/n, where:
- 802.11b operates at a maximum throughput speed of 11Mbit/second (and is being phased out with newer PC's and routers)
- 802.11g operates at a maximum throughput speed of 54 Mbits/second
- 802.11n operates at a maximum throughput speed of 300 Mbit/second
Say you have a router that supports b, g and n speeds. Your PC, which you owned for a while, may have a wireless card that is only capable of running b and g speeds, but still won't connect to the router.
Chances are, if you check your wireless router configuration, it may be set to enforce g only. Because of this, it's not allowing your PC to connect with one of the lower speeds (in this case b or g).
The solution, change the speed configuration on the router to auto or mix (allowing for all speeds that is supported by the router). You PC will now be able to connect to your router…finally.
This solution will also work for your other devices that may be having trouble connecting to your wireless router, such as Xbox, PS3, Wii, Android phone or IPhone. Basically anything that can connect via a wireless connection.
NOTE: When you select "Auto" on your router, the maximum speed on your network will be determined by the slowest device connected to your router. For example, if you have two devices that can connect using 802.11n, and one device that connects using 802.11g, the max speed on your network will be 802.11g (54 Mbits/second). There is nothing wrong with this, but you should be aware of this when troubleshooting wireless speed problems.
If you don't want to change your router configuration to auto, check your PC wireless network card setting. It's possible, the speed it uses may only be set to use g, while your router is set to use n only (instead of auto). Typically PC wireless network cards are usually set to auto, but it never hurts to verify.
To check the settings on your Windows PC :
- click on Start, then enter ncpa.cpl in the Run box (on Windows 7 you can also click on Start –> Control Panel -> Network and Sharing Center -> Change adapter settings).
- next right click on your wireless adapter and select properties.
- then click the Configure button
- make sure the advanced tab is selected, and look for the speed setting (some network cards are set auto by default and do not provide an option to change it.
Another scenario, is when your router only supports connection speeds of g and n, while your PC wireless card is old and can only run b connections.
If this is the case, check to see if a new driver is available for the wireless card. Otherwise, you may need to purchase a new wireless card to solve the problem.
As you can see, there are many scenarios that could be tripping you up when trying to troubleshoot wireless speed problems. Bottom line, check all devices and make sure they are configured to use the same speed or are set to auto.
Keep in mind, if you don't use auto configuration on your router and set it to use only one speed, you may run into problems down the road when attempting to setup other devices in your home. Just something you will need to be aware of (and avoid being frustrated).
The "Other" Culprit
Wireless is great and eliminates the hassle of needing to connect devices using cables or wires. One drawback to a wireless signal is that it can be prone to interference.
Such is the case when PC or devices are unable to communicate with your router (or very poorly). Most Wireless routers operate at 2.4Ghz band (other WI-Fi routers may use 5Ghz band). In this band, you can select a Channel (1,4,6, 9, 11, etc) to broadcast on.
This is where issues with connectivity can occur, such as wireless connections constantly dropping (after being connected), poor performance, etc.
If you have phones or even a microwave that operates on or close to the band (such as 2.4Ghz) that your router is operating on, the possibility exist for causing havoc on your wireless network.
The solution? Try changing the channel your router is broadcasting on. By doing so, you may be able to move far enough away on the channel (frequency) spectrum that the offending devices are on, and eliminate the problem.
To make the change, access your wireless router administration page and select a channel.
Once you have connected and logged on to to your Wireless router, go to the page for the Wireless channel setting, and change it to another channel. You may need to experiment to see which channels performs best for you.
NOTE: If you still can't connect to your router, open a command prompt on your PC (click Start -> then enter cmd in the run box). At the prompt, enter ipconfig. Look for your wireless adapter and use the IP address next to Default Gateway.
If You Still Can't Connect
Another possible reason you can't get your PC or devices connected, could be caused by the encryption type.
If WPA2 is being used on your wireless router, make sure you are using WPA2 on the device that you are trying to connect. If you are using WEP (hopefully not), the same is needed on the connecting device.
NOTE: WEP encryption is very weak and can be easily comprised. If at all possible use WPA2 with a loooooong strong password.
With one of these solutions, hopefully you can get connected and watching the net!