How to Fix Wireless Connection Issues on a Laptop

Laptop computers today are popular because of their portability and convenience. Part of that convenience is being able to connect to the internet wirelessly. Unfortunately, several things can keep you from connecting wirelessly, some of which you might be able to correct.

Some of the common issues are:
Settings on the computer ,Distance from the router,Interference ,Obstructions

One of the simplest things to check on your laptop is to make sure you actually have your wireless adapter turned on. On quite a few different laptop models, the key or switch for turning the wireless adapter on and off is located in a spot that’s easy to hit accidentally.

Once you’ve verified you actually have the wireless adapter turned on, the next thing to check is whether you can see any wireless connections available in your area. If you don’t see any connections, then you may either be too far away from the router, there’s something causing radio interference that’s blocking the signal, or there’s something obstructing the signal, like a shielded wall.

Other than making sure the wireless is turned on in the laptop, the next best step to take to troubleshoot a wireless connection is to get as close as possible to the router. You preferably want to be in the same room as the router and within 10 feet of it. That way, you have the strongest, clearest signal possible to work with. One of the biggest causes of wireless connection issues is something causing interference with the wireless signal. Being close to the router helps overcome that so you can troubleshoot the issue effectively.

If you still don’t see your wireless connection being available, the next step is to hardwire your laptop to the router with a network cable, if possible, so you can log into the router to change settings. When you’re hardwired into the router, you have a guaranteed, stable connection to work with so you can make changes without worrying about the connection dropping. Almost all laptops will leave the wireless adapter on, but they’ll prefer the hardwired connection for communication. This tendency will allow you to do the next troubleshooting step more easily.

Once you’re hardwired and logged into the router, the router manual should have exact instructions on how to do this, what you’re going to do next is disable any encryption you might have enabled. This will make the troubleshooting easier. Once the encryption is turned off, check and see if your wireless connection shows up. Some computers have problems with certain levels and types of encryption. By disabling it, you’re eliminating this possible problem.

If you can connect wirelessly after disabling the encryption, try turning it back on. If the connection drops, then your computer may not be able to handle the current encryption settings. You may need to go to a lower level encryption. A good example of this is Windows XP and WPA2 encryption. If you have Windows XP and you’ve never done any updates, then you won’t be able to use WPA2 encryption to secure your wireless network. Windows XP came out before WPA2, so it doesn’t have the software built in to access a wireless network that uses it. Getting the latest updates can correct that type of issue.

If you still can’t connect after turning off encryption, the next thing to try is changing what channel the router is broadcasting on. All routers made for the US marketplace have access to 11 different channels. The process to go through is to set the channel the router is broadcasting on and then waiting about 2-3 minutes for the changes to save and for the router to start broadcasting again.

If you still can’t connect, or can’t even see your wireless connection, then it might be a case of something interfering with the connection. A good example of this would be a wireless baby monitor. A significant number of baby monitors work on the same frequency as most wireless routers. Even dual-band routers use one of the same frequencies as most baby monitors. Other possible culprits are old cordless phones that broadcast on 2.4 GHz , along with some video game wireless controllers, Bluetooth enabled devices, and a multitude of other wireless devices.

Along a similar vein, having too many wireless devices in a location can cause a similar issue. Having too many devices broadcasting wirelessly can cause wireless congestion on the same frequency that the router is trying to broadcast on. This is relatively common in apartment buildings where everyone is trying to set up their own wireless connection point. Once you start having more than a couple wireless connections available in an area, you’re going to run the risk of having wireless issues.

By this point in your troubleshooting, you should be connected wirelessly. The final step in troubleshooting is to disconnect your network cable and test out the connection. If you lose your connection when you get a certain distance from your router, then it may mean that the materials used to construct the walls are blocking or absorbing your wireless signal. Unfortunately, there’s no real easy fix for this. It usually involves either moving the router to a different location, or getting wireless range extenders. These range extenders work similar to a relay station. They receive the signal, boost the signal strength, and then send it back out again so devices further away from the router can receive the signal.

Hopefully this information will help you get your laptop to connect wirelessly. Unfortunately, by its very nature, wireless isn’t 100% reliable because the signal itself can be blocked, or interfered with, by a multitude of outside sources. The troubleshooting steps presented here can help you get around those types of issues.

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