Baffling Wifi Issues

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Thread Starter
Dec 24, 2012
Hey folks,

I have a Dell XPS laptop running Windows 7, with all current drivers, etc.

I recently moved into an apartment that has landlord managed internet - a wireless networked named UPPER and a wireless network named LOWER (it's important to note that this means I do NOT have access to the router itself).

About the laptop -- my house, where I lived previously, had a linksys router and Comcast internet. Never once, over two years, did I ever have a single issue connecting to that network. I've taken the laptop to school and connected to University wireless with zero issues, and to work where I've connected to my workplace wifi with zero issues. Again, over two years.

Where I live now - it's upstairs, so I connect to the "UPPER" network. For the first two weeks, my laptop connected automatically and with no problems. The buffering wasn't as fast as I'm used to but it was fine for most things. In this same apartment, all within close proximity, I also have a Samsung bluray player that connects to UPPER just fine, another (older) laptop and two smartphones, all of which connect to UPPER with NO issues.

About a week ago, all of a sudden, my laptop started displaying the message "windows cannot connect to UPPER" and then gives me the useless links to troubleshoot (that being said, I DID run the windows troubleshooter, which ultimately told me to call a friend for help. Thanks MS).

Now, I made no changes to the laptop's settings, installed no new programs, etc. I've scanned for viruses, tried disabling the firewall, deleting the network profile, deleting the device and letting it reinstall the drivers, etc, etc etc. For three solid days now I've spent all my free time researching this issue, and as far as I can tell no one ever has the exact same fix twice.

I CAN connect to the LOWER network, but for whatever reason it gives me spotty or no internet at all. Connects fine but it could take an entire day just to read an email. Both UPPER and LOWER tell me that the signal strength is excellent. There is a network password that is the same for both (which gets me in just fine on my other devices, so I know I have the correct one).

So I guess my question is... what's the deal? Obviously the router is working fine; otherwise my other devices would have similar issues. And my laptop works just fine on any other network - at work, at the library -- even at Denny's! And why would this issue happen seemingly at random?

I appreciate any and all help you can give me! I'll be happy to provide whatever details I can, although if you need text from the computer itself I'll have to figure something out, since my other laptop is in another location temporarily.



Oct 2, 2003
can we see an xirrus screen shot of the wireless environment

What firewall / security suite or anti-virus do you currently have on the PC - or you have ever had on the PC in the past - any trial ware - like Norton, Mcafee , AVG , Webroot etc

Run Xirrus Wi-Fi Inspector
Download and install

If you cannot access the internet with this PC, then you will need to copy the program across to the faulty PC
Save the file to a USB flash drive or other removable media. Plug it into the working computer with internet access and copy the file and install the program.
You will now need to take a screen shot and copy that back to the working PC and attach the screen shot in a reply on the forum here.
Direct link to the program is here

{If the above link does not work heres another link,77196-order,4/download.html}

Then run and install the program - on a wireless enabled PC/Laptop
if you get an error - You need will need to have NET Framework installed for the WiFi Inspector to function.
On windows 8 - (i do not have windows 8) but, it would appear that, When you first try to run, you may get a message that .net framework is needed, and included in that message is a link to download/install.

Run the program

A user guide is available here

post a screen shot of the program running.
if there are a lot of networks showing can you click on "networks" top lefthand area - so we can see all the network information.

post which SSID name is yours, its located in the list, under network "Adapter Name" (1st column)

To post a screen shot of the active window.
1) hold the Alt key and press the PrtScn key. Open the Windows PAINT application (Start> All Programs> Accessories> Paint) and Paste the screen shot. You can then use PAINT to trim to suit, and save it as a JPG format file.
2) if you are using Vista/Windows 7 you can use the "snipping tool" which is found in Start> All programs> Accessories> Snipping Tool

To upload the screen shot to the forum, open the full reply window ("Go Advanced" button) and use the Manage Attachments button to upload it here.
Full details are available here

For a reliable (or robust as the Xirrus user guide says) wireless connection you need a signal of about -70 dBm or better. "A desirable signal level for a robust Wi-Fi connection will be green".
note: the signal level is a negative number, so for example -88 is worst and -40 is better

If you are using the Mac OS then use

if you want to optimise base station position and signal strength / dead spots use which has a graph function to monitor signal


Mar 23, 2005
Sometimes the encryption between an adapter and router gets "out of sync." Your symptoms make it likely, but not guaranteed, that this has happened.

Sometimes the fix is to delete the wireless profile (which, I understand, you have already done). The "guaranteed" fix is to disable encryption on the router, connect, re-enable encryption, and reconnect. If the troubleshooting Wayne started does not lead to a solution it's time to make friends with your landlord or the network administrator.
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