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Solved: Intermittent (and IRRITATING) Wireless Failure?

Discussion in 'Networking' started by chundarr, Jan 1, 2006.

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  1. chundarr

    chundarr Thread Starter

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    Hello all.

    We have a simple home wireless network: cable modem broadband connected to NetGear wireless router, which we access from two different laptops. Both laptops use Windows XP HE.

    One laptop, an Averatec 3200 with integrated 802.11g wireless, has intermittent but repeated problems accessing either the network or the internet at times when the other computer has no access problems. Symptoms:

    * browser cannot access the internet (neither can mail client)

    * the "wireless network connection" window finds the NETGEAR network, and says it is
    "Not connected," but the button at the bottom says "Disconnect" (not "Connect").

    * on a larf, when I press "Disconnect" it warns me that if I disconnect from NETGEAR I
    will have to manually connect in the future. I proceed anyway, and nothing visible
    changes. I do not have the option of connecting, access has not been restored.

    * if I try to open the properties window for the network or "Change advanced settings,"
    the resultant window locks up and pegs the CPU. I have to kill the process from the
    Task Manager.

    The only way to restore access is to shut everything down and restart it in modem, router, computer order, but this is not reliable. Sometimes it works after one cycle, sometimes not until three, this morning I gave up after 6 cycles and now it's working in the afternoon.

    If anyone could diagnose the root problem and clue me as to how to permanently fix it, I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks!
     
  2. superkid

    superkid

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    I have the same type of problem with the netgear router too. I do not have an answer as of yet, but I found out that when one of the two desktops hangup I can get it going easier by logging into the router and going to the wireless page and clicking apply at the bottom.
    Not the answer, but better than always rebooting everything (it essentiallys rebroadcasts the WEP code). Hope it helps a little for now.
     
  3. TerryNet

    TerryNet Moderator

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    Terry
    I can't "diagnose the root problem and clue me as to how to permanently fix it" but I can offer these suggestions:

    Disable encryption, connect the laptops, enable encryption again, connect.

    Look for driver update for wireless adaptor.

    Look for router firmware update (important to do firmware update via ethernet connection).

    Reset router to factory settings and then reconfigure it.
     
  4. chundarr

    chundarr Thread Starter

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    I apologize if my first message implied more technical knowledge than I have... two questions:

    1) How do I "log in" to the router?

    2) I have not been using encryption. (Neither computer is attached to the network on a
    full-time basis, even the cable modem is on standy most of the time). Would enabling
    encryption have a positive or negative effect?

    Thanks much for replying!
     
  5. dpvu

    dpvu

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2003
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    You need to access the control interface and login to your router. The interface is browser based and can usually be accessed through 192.168.1.1, 192.168.2.1 or 192.168.0.1

    You probably have not set a new password so you will need to find your manual and see what the default is. You should also change this for security.

    Also encryption is HIGHLY recommended. It will make your network more secure, and does not interfere with connectivity.
     
  6. StumpedTechy

    StumpedTechy

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    actually it does incease your network overhead so know that this is a known sideaffect and if not encrypted in the correct manner (or if the key is forgotten) this can affect anyones connectivity into your wireless.

    (I too think it should be on I am just giving you the side effects and caveats to wireless security)
     
  7. superkid

    superkid

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    Chundarr,

    Lets take question 2 first. As for the encryption, I think its better to have it ON. For the general users like most of us, your likely choices would be no security, WEP or WPA.

    No Security - obviously that would mean anyone can use your network that is within range and possibly load down your performance.

    WEP - there is 64bit or 128bit (use 128bit for better security). Note: I said better security, I did not say the best because WEP at 64 or 128 bit can and have been hacked, but usually not by general users. The added security will impede performance too.

    WPA - Newer technology and available on newer routers, so if you have it, you should use it. Note: In addition to your router, your wireless client adapter/software has to handle WPA too (otherwise the components won't be able to "talk"). Yes, performance hit too.

    As for question 1. To access the netgear router you need to open a browser like IE, Netscape or Firefox. In the address line, instead of typing the usual HTTP, type in either 192.168.0.1 (for older routers) or 192.168.1.1 (for newer routers). Hint: look under the netgear router for the correct address.

    If this works it should open a second gray screen that asks for your username and password...........see your manual for both (there is a default for both for netgear routers).

    Once you are logged in, the screen will be split in three columns. The first column allows you to go to different configuration sections on the router. The second column is the actual information currently set for the router for the respective configuration section. The third column is for informational/help.

    To do as I mentioned in an earlier post, click on the first (far left) column the section titled wireless (I think its second from top). The second column should "load" to the wireless section. scroll down on the second column and click "APPLY". This should push the information out again (rebroadcasting the router info again). Once it finishes "applying" (about 10 seconds), scroll down on column 1 and "logout".

    *** BECAREFUL - do not change settings without writing them down, otherwise you can lose your DSL or cable connection info and will require you to call their customer support (never a good thing!)
     
  8. chundarr

    chundarr Thread Starter

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    Thanks for all the help, guys. Here's an update.

    The problem still occurs; when I try to go into the router and click "Apply" at the bottom of the wireless page, the router locks up and has to be power-cycled. In fact, more than two or three clicks in the router admin windows usually results in a lock-up. For a few minutes, I had fine access to the internet, but the router wasn't answering!

    I guess I should implement encryption, but I'm afraid to given how fragile the situation already appears to be. The router has a firmware update function; I will try that. Any other suggestions?
     
  9. chundarr

    chundarr Thread Starter

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    Oootay. Well, I upgraded the firmware, but hard to know if that had an effect (the intermittent error has not recurred... yet). I then made the mistake of attempting to implement security. Total hosage, to such a degree that I had to use the hard-reset button to send the router back to factory defaults and reconfigure it.

    Everything works again (for now), but is still unencrypted. I cannot implement encryption because I cannot access the Wireless Network Connection Properties on the Averatec--as in the beginning, every time I try to open that window, the window just freezes, pegs the CPU and has to be killed from TaskManager.

    If I can't change the connection properties, I can't tell the computer what the correct WEP settings are, right? Any way around this?

    Thanks!
     
  10. TerryNet

    TerryNet Moderator

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    If you are trying to change the router's wireless setttings via a wireless connection, you are asking for extra trouble. Just to state the obvious: as soon as you enable encryption, change the channel, change the SSID, etc., any and all wireless connections will be "lost."

    Assuming you are using an ethenet connection, or have sufficient knowledge and confidence to hazzard this with a wireless connection:

    Access the router via your browser and enable WPA encryption (or WEP, it's better than nothing) using a 20+ character passphrase (or hex key(s) if using WEP).

    The next time you try to connect wirelessly, your wireless utility will notice that the network is now encrypted and ask you to input the key/passcode/passphrase.
     
  11. chundarr

    chundarr Thread Starter

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    Ooookay.

    Now have WPA encryption running, but the Averatec still has the original problem described. When connected or not I cannot access the Wireless Connection Properties dialog, and the list of available networks gives conflicting information on the network status.

    Is this more of a windows problem than a networking problem? For that matter, is there a way to test if it is a software problem or a hardware problem?
     
  12. TerryNet

    TerryNet Moderator

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    So often I go down the wrong track when I make assumptions, so please be very specific about this (these) problem(s).

    Are you using the wireless adaptor's utility or Windows' utility to manage the Averatec's connection?

    To try to "access the Wireless Connection Properties dialog" are you choosing Properties after right clicking on the connection in Network Connections, or going directly through the utility?

    And what is the conflicting information on the network status? I think that a big source of confusion in this area is the way Windows (in the Notification Area) will sometimes say "Connected" when it is trying to communicate on a given network, but does not have what I would call a connection. For my purposes, I call it a connection only when the adaptor has an IP configuration and can successfully ping the router.

    One quick way to tell if you probably have a connection is to go into Network Connections, click once on the wireless connection, and look at the details at the bottom of the left pane. You want it to show an IP usually of the form 192.168.n.x, and that it was assigned by DHCP.

    A better way is to go into a command window and type
    ipconfig /all
    This will show you even more information than above. Included will be a Gateway IP; this will be the IP of your router, probably 192.168.n.1. Type
    ping 192.168.n.1 (the actual address of the router)
    If you get 4 responses back, you ARE connected to the router. If all 4 packets are lost, we got problems. With some packet loss, you have connection but something is making it imperfect.
     
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