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Solved: 2 dell laptops in house - 1 connects, 1 doesnt...please HELP!!!

Discussion in 'Networking' started by whlbond, Aug 11, 2009.

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  1. whlbond

    whlbond Thread Starter

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    My Dell laptop is just starting to experience internet connection problems.
    I have had the unit for 2 years now. Within the last 2 months, it has started to play up. It will disconnect from the internet and the "Dell Network Assistant" will tell me that there is a problem with the home router. There isn't - my girlfriend is sitting next to me with her Dell laptop and she is surfing just fine.
    Also. the 2 connection symbols for wireless connectivity in the bottom right hand corner will say that I'm connected, but the dell network assistant will say disconnected, and I won't be able to connect.
    VERY FRUSTRATING!!!
    I guessed that it must be some connection settings but after trying as many as I could (I'm no IT genius but I'm fairly savvy) I couldn't fix it.
    So I recently phoned Dell support and as my warranty has expired, it cost me £30 :mad: for them to (as I suspected...) remotely adjust some settings. I asked what settings they were adjusting but they wouldn't tell me - I had to buy a new warranty for £190 if I wanted the work done for free.
    This fix they did lasted about a week - now the same problem is back and I don't want to give them another penny.
    My firewall settings seem fine although if I reset them to default settings, I get about an hour of internet connection clarity before it starts to happen again.
    Any ideas anyone??
    Many thanks for reading!
    Chris / whlbond
     
  2. TerryNet

    TerryNet Moderator

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    Then lets start with the firewall. I assume you mean that it is a non-Windows firewall or security suite. Which one? Uninstall it and see if the problem goes away. You can reinstall the thing again then and it should be OK until the next glitch.
     
  3. pedroguy

    pedroguy

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    Welcome to TSG:
    What operating system ?
    Specific error msg?
    My first guess would be that there are two wireless managers running.
    The Dell one and perhaps the default windows (wireless zero config in XP )Take a look at services.Like so.
    If you see Dell and wzc running.not good.


    Check your Services are Started on all PCs:
    • COM+ Event System (for WZC issues)
    • Computer Browser
    • DHCP Client
    • DNS Client
    • Network Connections
    • Network Location Awareness
    • Remote Procedure Call (RPC)
    • Server
    • TCP/IP Netbios helper
    • Wireless Zero Configuration (XP wireless configurations)
    • WLAN AutoConfig (Vista wireless configurations)
    • Workstation

    Note: You can check the services in Control Panel, Administrative Tools, Services.

    All of these services should be started, and their startup type should be automatic (or perhaps manual).

    If a service is not running, open it's properties and check the dependencies. Check each of the dependencies and see which one is preventing the service from running.

    Also,I think that the wireless icon status is giving you connection status,basically to your router/home network.
    So when disconnected,how do you recover ?
    Also,might be a good idea,if you have not done so,run your antivirus/antispyware app to see if something amiss is turned up.Probably not,but won't hurt to check.
     
  4. trryan5

    trryan5 Guest

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    Given that the problem occurs intermittently, I'm inclined to think it's not a configuration issue, but a hardware issue. And since the other laptop works fine when this one goes down, things are pointing toward the wireless adapter in that laptop. Is there a library or coffee shop nearby with free wifi? Give it a test there and see if it still has problems. If you've tried it with two working networks, and it's still hit-and-miss, you may want to invest in a new wireless card.

    If, on the other hand, it works fine elsewhere, but not at home, you may have a compatibility issue. Some of the cheap Intel cards favored by Dell aren't 100% compatible with the security features of better routers (Cisco/Linksys in particular), leading to random network disconnects. In my own experience, it seems worst on PCs running Vista, although Cisco and Intel both claim the OS has nothing to do with it.

    If you're curious about the card installed in that laptop, look-up the MAC address. http://computing.artsci.wustl.edu/help/77 has a good how-to for different operating systems. Then search for the first six characters at http://standards.ieee.org/regauth/oui/oui.txt If it corresponds with Intel's Kulim Hi-Tech Park, then yes, you've got a bargain-basement wifi card.

    The cheapest solution is probably to buy a new wireless adapter for the laptop. Most of the newer ones just plug into a USB port. I'd recommend one with a visible antenna, as the ones that look like a little flash memory drive usually have very poor range. Make sure you either turn off the wireless antenna switch or disable the built-in card (right click the wireless icon and DISABLE) before installing the new one.

    Hope this helps! Best of luck!
     
  5. whlbond

    whlbond Thread Starter

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    Thank you all for your replies! This is brilliant!
    I will try all of the above and let you know how I progress.

    To answer Pedroguy - Operating system is XP, working laptop uses Vista. Error message is "There is a problem with your home router that cannot be fixed. Try turning off the power and turning back on again... etc" It's a Dell network asst message. Can't be the router as the other laptop is running off it just fine, and my laptop works fine when hardwired to the router. Problem only occurs wirelessly. It'll search for network, find it and work for about 2-3 minutes, then disconnect with the above message.

    Terrynet - it's a Windows firewall - I have McAffee antivirus running as well.

    Thanks again everyone for your suggestions - I will try them and report back.
     
  6. TerryNet

    TerryNet Moderator

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    It may be a hardware issue, as trryan5 suggested, but don't buy anything just yet. There are some other possibilities we haven't yet mentioned.
     
  7. pedroguy

    pedroguy

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    Have you disabled all firewalls including the security suite as Terry suggested in post #2 ?
     
  8. whlbond

    whlbond Thread Starter

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    Yeah, I've tried disabling firewall and antivirus but it has no effect.

    Pedroguy - I have looked through the list of services - WZC was not started although it was set to automatic. Only Dell listing in services is "Dell Wireless WLAN Tray Service", which is listed as started, also with automatic setting. Is this the Dell wireless manager you were talking about?
     
  9. TerryNet

    TerryNet Moderator

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    Not started when the problem occurred, or not started when everything was fine? I'd set the Startup Type to 'disabled' to make sure.
     
  10. trryan5

    trryan5 Guest

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    That's how Dell's XP laptops ship from the factory. The Wireless Zero Configuration Utility is Microsoft's counterpart to the Dell wireless utility you've been using. With XP, Dell prefers to have its customers use their utility instead of Microsoft's. By the time Vista came around, Dell decided Microsoft knew what it was doing, so they didn't make a separate utility.

    If you want to experiment with the Windows utility, there's probably going to be a second step beyond starting this service. After starting Wireless Zero, go to the Control Panel, then Network Connections (if you're using category view, you'll need to click Network and Internet Connections first). Find your wireless card, right click on it, and click properties. Click the Wireless Networks tab (this tab is only visible when Wireless Zero is started). You'll see a checkbox with "Use Windows to configure my wireless network settings". Make sure it's checked. Now you can click out of the properties box. Back in Network Connections, right click your wireless card again and click "View available wireless networks." Pick your home network and click connect. Congrats, you've switched from Dell's utility to the Windows one.

    Personally, I find Wireless Zero to be easier and more user-friendly than the Dell utility, but they both have their fans.

    As a practical matter, though, I don't think this is going to solve your problem. It sounds to me like packets are dropping between your wireless adapter and the router. If you were never able to get online, I'd say your PC has a configuration problem, but if your configuration works one day and not the next, well, it sounds like you have to look elsewhere. Next time your connection drops, reboot the PC, and while it's loading go sit next to the router. Assuming it connects on reboot, try going back to your original spot. Does physical location make any difference?
     
  11. Ntichrist

    Ntichrist

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    Run a Linux live CD and see if it will connect, that will solve the harware/software issue. Maybe ubuntu, fedora, puppy, or suse might have the support for your chipset. Would be a good experience anyway. Don't give up if the distro you chose doesn't connect, just poke around the Net looking for the right one.

    If you don't know already these live cd's are not permanent, and won't mess with your install settings (unless you install them:rolleyes:)

    Backtrack 3 is easy and supports the majority of chipsets IMO.
     
  12. TerryNet

    TerryNet Moderator

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    One common problem that continually crops up with XP is having multiple wireless utilities running. That results in various symptoms, and one is what you are reporting. That's why, since you are using the Dell WLAN, I suggest that you 'disable' WZC to make sure that it is not deciding to start when you're not looking.

    If/when, as trryan5 suggests, you try WZC also disable the Dell WLAN to make sure that it does not interfere.
     
  13. whlbond

    whlbond Thread Starter

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    Ok, I think it's sorted! I'm having no connection problems at all now I've disabled the Dell WLAN and I'm using the WZC exclusively.
    Thanks for all your help guys!
     
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