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Troubleshoot a Lost Internet Connection on a Wireless Network with Vista

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This document pertains the HP Notebook PCs with Windows Vista.
If the computer is not using the Vista operating system, see:
Read this document if you have been using your computer to connect to the internet and receive e-mail, but suddenly the computer displays a browser error message:
  • cannot display the web page
  • dns_unresolved_hostname
  • or a similar error message.
This document covers how to troubleshoot the problem symptoms and follow the quick tips to re-establish a connection.
Your first action should be to determine if there is a problem with the connection between the computer and the network (router), or the connection between the network and the internet service provider (ISP).
To determine which connection is not working, look at the network icon in the system tray, and take the following actions.
    1. Turn off and then turn on the wireless device power switch on the computer. The wireless icon or LED should glow.
    2. Disable and then enable the wireless network connection using HP Wireless Assistant.
    The Network icon should indicate that the computer is connected to the network. If you cannot connect to the internet, go to the next step.
  • Network is connected
    1. Recycle the router and the modem to reset the connection to the ISP by turning the electrical power to the devices off and then turning them on.
    2. Restart the computer.
    The LED lights on the modem and router will blink for several seconds, and then glow steadily to indicate the connection is complete.

Top reasons for lost connections

The top issues that cause a lost network or internet connection are:
The power to the wireless network and Bluetooth devices is controlled by a switch or button on most computers. It is possible to accidentally bump the button and turn off the wireless service.
On most computers, there is an LED light that glows blue when the wireless device is turned on and enabled, and glows orange when off or disabled. Some newer models use different a different color scheme, see the user guide for more information.
To turn on and enable the wireless device, do the following:
  1. To turn on the wireless device, simply move the switch to the on position. On some computers, the switch is actually a touch point on the panel above the keyboard.
  2. To enable the wireless device, right-click the HP Wireless Assistant (disabled) icon and select Open Wireless Assistant. Click Turn On. The HP Wireless Assistant (enabled) icon will display.
The devices on the network handle communication based on IP addresses provided dynamically by the internet service provider.
A quick glance at the steadily glowing and blinking LED lights on a router and modem normally indicates that the service from the internet service provider (ISP) is working. However, if there is a brief power interruption to the ISP signal, the IP addresses will change but the lights may still show a connection.
As a first action, if there is a problem with the internet connection, you should turn off - and then turn on - the power to the router and the modem to reset the connection to the internet service provider (ISP).
  1. Turn off the computer.
  2. Disconnect the power from the router and modem.
  3. Reconnect power to the modem and allow it to reestablish a connection with the ISP.
  4. Reconnect power to the router and allow it to reestablish a connection with the modem.
  5. Restart the computer and allow it to reestablish a connection with the network router.
To verify that the network connection is working, look at the network icon in the system tray.
When using a wizard program to set up a new network connection, it is possible to set a static IP address on the wireless device. The network connection works until there is an unexpected change in the signal from the internet service provider (ISP). Many business and public WIFI providers change addresses on a regular basis, which means the connection did work but it suddenly fails. It is best to configure the wireless device to accept a dynamic IP address that changes when the network is reset.
  1. Right-click the network icon, and select Network and Sharing Center, select Manage network connection.
  2. Right-click either the Local Area Connection or the Wireless Network Connection and select Properties.
  3. On the Network Connection Properties page, highlight the Internet Protocol option, and select Properties.
    Depending on the OS version, there may be a different version of the Internet Protocol (TCP/IP).
  4. Select the Obtain an IPv6 address automatically and Obtain DMS server address automatically options, and then click OK.
  5. Returning to the Network Connection Properties page, on the Networking tab, select Configure.
    If there is a Power Management tab for this device, de-select the Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power option.
  6. Restart the computer.
When setting up a connection to a wireless network, the computer saves the security information including the password. The computer retains a list of all the networks it has been connected to - and the corresponding passwords or security keys - until you manually delete the network entry. While your home network security password probably does not change, most businesses and public WIFI networks change passwords on a regular basis.
When the computer is within range of the network it attempts to automatically connect using the old security codes, and the connection fails. If you click on the network from a list or manually try to connect the network, it will use the old codes.
To avoid this issue, you must delete the connection that has the wrong information and then establish a new wireless connection to the wireless network, do the following:
  1. Click the network icon in the system tray and select Open Network and Sharing Center. The graphic display indicates if there is or is not a connection.
    Figure 1: No Internet Connection
  2. Click Manage Wireless Networks. Right-click the network that is not connecting properly, and select Remove network.
  3. To establish a new connection to the wireless network, go back to the Network Sharing Center window, select Set up a connection to a network.
  4. Select Manually connect to a wireless network, and click Next to continue.
  5. Enter the required network security information. This is the information you used when you set up your home network.
    • Network Name (SSID)
    • Security type (WEP and WPA are common types)
    • Encryption type (Additional feature of some types of security)
    • Security key or passphrase
    • Start this connection automatically Select this option if you want the computer to automatically logon when it is in range of the wireless network.
  6. To verify the wireless connection is complete, click the available network icon to display a list of available wireless networks.

General network troubleshooting

If the network problem is not resolved after performing the actions to correct the IP address and security key issues listed above, perform the following general network troubleshooting actions.
Vista has several diagnostic tools that can repair network connection problems if the Windows and the HP programs are kept up-to-date. To check the network and internet connections, right-click the network icon in the System tray and select the Network and Sharing Center option.
Figure 2: Vista Network and Sharing Center Display
In this example, the graphic of the Windows Vista Network and Sharing Center shows a problem with the network connection, and no connection to the internet. Double-click any of the icons to view additional information and click the links for any automated tests and repair actions.
If you have multiple problems, connect the computer temporarily to the network with a network cable to run Microsoft Troubleshooters and Windows Update. You should also run the HP Support Assistant to perform diagnostic tests and install all available updated drivers and programs.
If you have intermittent connection problems, install the latest updated wireless network device drivers.
NOTE:If you do not have a wireless network connection, you can connect the computer temporarily to the network router with a network cable. If you do not have a wired internet connection, use another computer to access the HP Software & Driver Downloads web site to find the drivers for the wireless device and the ethernet chipset. Download the drivers to an external drive and install them on the computer with the connection problem.
The original factory image of the HP computer has the required drivers for the built-in wireless network device and the HP Wireless Assistant. If you have changed the operating system (OS), download and install the latest version of the wireless network device driver for your model and OS, and the HP Wireless Assistant . See, HP Notebook PCs - Installing and Using HP Wireless Assistant .
If there is no network or internet connection, you can look at the network icons in the system tray. However, if there is no network icon in the system tray, or if the Network and Sharing Center does not list both a wired Ethernet connection and a wireless network connection, you should open the Device Manager to check for problems with the network drivers. You should select and update any existing network drivers before installing new drivers.
  1. Click Start, type device manager in the search field, and select Device Manager from the listing.
  2. Expand the Network Adapters listing.
    NOTE:If wireless network devices are not displayed, unplug the Ethernet network cable, and turn on the wireless device. This forces the Device Manager to display all recognized network devices even if they are not working properly.
    Some Devices are Not Shown When Wireless Switch is Off
    Wireless Device Turned Off

    Wireless Device Turned On

  3. showhide
    Identify issues with the wireless WiFi Adapter, and an Ethernet Controller drivers.
    • If the wireless device quits working after awakening from Sleep or Hibernate, install the updated chip set and wireless device drivers.
    • If network device is displayed, turn the wireless device switch on.
    • If a wireless network device is missing when the wireless device switch is turned on, use the Recovery Manager to reinstall the original device drivers, or use the HP Support Assistant to perform a tune up and install all the recommended updates.
    • If the wireless device quits working when the computer is idle, the Power Management profile may be turning off the device to save power. Right-click the device, select Properties, and on the Power Management tab, de-select the option to turn off the device to save power.
    • If a device has a down arrow on the icon indicating that the device has been disabled, then right click on the device and select Enable.
    • If a device has an error icon (yellow triangle with an exclamation mark) indicating a problem with the driver, right-click the device and select Uninstall. On the menu select Action and then select Scan for hardware changes and allow it to automatically search the internet for the latest driver software, and then reinstall the device drivers.
A wireless network router has a limited broadcast range. The further the computer is from the router, the weaker the broadcast signal. Solid objects, such as walls, metal furniture, and electrical appliances may interfere with the signal and decrease the usable range.
For testing purposes, move the computer closer to the router and minimize interference from electrical devices. If testing proves that the wireless connection is working, you can rearrange the location and configuration of the computer and other electrical devices:
  • 2.4 GHz cordless phones
  • Microwave ovens
  • Electrical parameter fences
  • Electrical transformers near the router
  • Security systems
  • Other wireless network transmitters near the router

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