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Troubleshooting wireless network and internet (Windows Vista)

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This document pertains to HP computers using a wireless network (a router) with Windows Vista.
Wi-Fi networking is a convenient way to access the Internet. However, a lot of things that can go wrong when using a wireless connection and it can be frustrating when the connection is slow, intermittently drops, or cannot connect. The steps in this document provide tools that have been found helpful in solving many problems that can occur with wireless network and Internet connections.

Step 1: Using automatic troubleshooting

The Windows 8 Network and Internet Troubleshooter tests the network for problems and attempts automatic repairs for any issues found. Use this tool from Microsoft to test and repair the connection.
  1. If your computer has a wireless key or button on or near the keyboard and the wireless activity light is off or amber in color, then press the key or button to enable your wireless adapter. This key might be the F10 key, F12 key or labeled with a symbol of an airplane.
    • If wireless activity comes on or the activity light turns blue, you have enabled wireless on your system. Try connecting to the Internet again. If problems persist, continue using these steps.
    • If your computer does not have a wireless key or the wireless activity lights remains off or orange, then continue using these steps.
  2. Click Start , type troubleshooting into the Search field.
  3. Select troubleshooting from the search results.
  4. Click Network and Internet.
  5. Click Internet Connections.
    Figure 1: Internet Connections
    Internet Connections selection highlighted in the Network and Internet window
  6. Click Advanced.
    Figure 2: Advanced selection
    Internet Connections selection highlighted in the Network and Internet window
  7. Click Run as administrator (if present), check Apply repairs automatically, and then click Next.
    NOTE:If a User Account Control window opens, click Yes to continue.
    Figure 3: Internet Connections selections
    Internet Connections window with the selections Run as administrator, Apply repairs automatically, and the Next button  highlighted
  8. Click Troubleshoot my connection to the Internet, and click Next.
    Follow the instructions to check for problems.
    Figure 4: Internet Connection window
    Internet Connections window with Troubleshoot my connection to the Internet selection  highlighted
  9. After automated troubleshooting has completed, read the information on the screen.
    If problems are found, the window provides more information about problems that found. This window might also show you what was fixed or actions that you can do to resolve the problem. Read the information in the window and perform any suggested actions. Try connecting to the Internet again. If problems persist, close the troubleshooting window, and then continue to the next step.
    If no problems were found and your computer is still experiencing Wi-Fi problems, close the troubleshooting window, and then continue to the next step.
    Figure 5: Troubleshooting has completed message
    Troubleshooting has completed message with problems found: a network cable might be unplugged and wireless capability turned off (fixed)

Step 2: Reinstalling the wireless network adapter driver

Removing and reinstalling the wireless network adapter driver can clear registry values and reset configurations so that the driver can be properly setup and accessed by Windows. Use one of the following sections to reinstall your wireless adapter.
If your computer originally came with Windows Vista and has HP Recovery Manager, you can use it to reinstall the wireless network adapter.
  1. From the Windows Vista desktop, click Start , All Programs, and then PC Help & Tools.
  2. Click Recovery Manager.
    The Recovery Manager Welcome screen displays.
  3. Click Next.
  4. On the Software Program Re-installation screen select Yes, and then click Next.
  5. On the Welcome screen click Next.
  6. Select the program to reinstall, and then click Next.
    NOTE:A message advising you to uninstall the software program that was reinstalled might display. If the program to reinstall is not listed, select The program is not in the list, and then click Next. Helpful information will advise on how to uninstall a program.If the program is in the list and has already been uninstalled, skip this step. To uninstall a program, perform the following steps:
    1. From the Windows Vista desktop, click Start .
    2. Click Control Panel.
    3. Click Programs, and then click Programs and Features.
    4. Select the program to uninstall, then click Uninstall.
    Once the program is uninstalled, resume the reinstallation from the Recovery Manager program.
  7. Click Next.
  8. If the reinstallation was a success, a message about restarting the computer opens. Select Yes, and then click Finish to restart the computer.
If your computer does not have HP Recovery Manager, use Windows Device Manager to uninstall the wireless adapter and have Windows install the driver.
  1. If you are using an external USB wireless network adapter or cellular broadband device, unplug it, restart your computer, and then plug it into a different USB port after Windows opens.
  2. From the Windows Vista desktop, click Start , and then type Device Manager in the search field.
  3. Select Device Manager from the list of results.
  4. Double-click Network adapters.
    Figure 6: Network adapters
    Image: Network adapters
  5. Right-click the name of your wireless network adapter, and then select Uninstall.
    NOTE:If the name of the network adapter is missing from the network adapters category, the network adapter hardware is not connected or the device driver cannot Plug and Play. If this happens, shut down the computer and check the hardware connection to your wireless adapter hardware. Service the computer if problems are found.
    Figure 7: Uninstall selection in Device Manager
    Device Manager screen with the Wi-Fi adapter highlighted and the Uninstall selection called out
  6. When the Confirm Device Uninstall screen displays, click OK and wait for the device to uninstall.
    Figure 8: Confirm Device Uninstall
    Image: Confirm Device Uninstall
    The name of the wireless adapter no longer displays in the network adapters category when it has been uninstalled.
  7. At top of the Device Manager window, click Action, and then select Scan for hardware changes.
    The computer reinstalls wireless network and the wireless network adapter name is shown in the Network adapters category.
    Figure 9: Scan for hardware changes
    Scan for hardware changes selection in Device Manager window
  8. After the network adapter name displays in Device Manager, close Device Manager, and then restart the computer.
  9. Try connecting to the Internet again. If problems persist, continue to the next step.

Step 3: Updating wireless network drivers

Downloading and installing the latest driver for your wireless adapter can resolve issues with wireless Internet connections, especially issues related to performance or intermittent dropped connections.
Use one or more of the following sections to find updated drivers for your wireless networking hardware. If you cannot find an updated driver or the updated driver fails to solve the problem, go to the next step.
HP tests and posts many updated drivers from wireless adapter manufacturers. HP might have a more current version of the wireless driver than the one you are using. To find out if a driver is available for your model of computer, go to the HP software download site enter the model number to find software and drivers. In many cases, the wireless driver is part of a driver package for your motherboard called a chipset. When visiting HP's website, look for a wireless driver first, and then the chipset if a wireless adapter driver is not available. Read the details for the software downloads that are available if you need more information.
If your computer currently does not have access to the Internet, use another computer with Internet access to download and install the wireless driver softpaq to a USB storage device. You can then connect the storage device to a USB port on your computer and open the softpaq file that was downloaded to update your driver or chipset.
For more information about downloading software, see Obtaining software and drivers .
If the updated driver fails to solve the problem, go to the next step.
Other website might provide driver updates for your exact model of wireless hardware. If you cannot find an updated driver from HP, use these steps to see if a more updated version is available from the World Wide Web.
CAUTION: HP does not control and is not responsible for information outside of the HP website. While there are many reputable sites that provide drivers, some sites might be malicious. Download software only from sites you know and trust.
  1. From the Windows Vista desktop, click Start , and then type Device Manager into the Search field.
  2. Select Device Manager from the list of results.
  3. Double-click Network adapters, then right-click the name of the Wireless Adapter, and then select Properties.
    Figure 10: Properties selection
    Properties selection window
  4. Click the Driver tab, and then look at the name next to Driver Provider. You might want to refer to the driver date and name as well when looking for an updated driver.
    Figure 11: Wi-Fi Adapter Driver Properties
    Wi-Fi Adapter Properties window driver with the name of the wireless provider called out.
  5. Visit the driver provider's website to look for an updated driver. You can find the website by searching the Internet using the Driver Provider's name.
  6. If you cannot find an updated driver on the driver provider website or you cannot find the provider's website, click the Details tab in Device Manager, select Hardware Ids from the Property list, and then right-click the first hardware device ID in the list and select Copy. You can then paste the hardware ID into an Internet search page to find sites that host the drivers.
  7. If an updated driver is found, follow the instructions to install it. Otherwise, use another method to find and update the driver or go to the next step to continue troubleshooting.
    CAUTION:HP does not control and is not responsible for information outside of the HP website. Download software only from sites you know and trust.
  8. If the updated driver fails to solve the problem, go to the next step.
Downloading and installing the latest wireless LAN adapter driver can resolve many issues with a slow wireless Internet connection. Follow these steps to use Device Manager to find the latest WLAN driver:
  1. Click Start , and then type Device Manager in the search field.
  2. Select Device Manager from the list of results.
  3. Double-click Network adapters, then right-click the name of the Wireless Adapter, and then select Update Driver Software.
    NOTE:You can also click the Update icon on the toolbar.
    Figure 12: Update Driver Software selection
    Update Driver Software selection window
  4. Click Search automatically for updated driver software.
    Figure 13: Update Driver Software window
    Update Driver Software window
  5. If an updated driver is found, follow the instructions to install it.
    If Device Manager does not find an updated driver, continue with these steps to check the wireless adapter manufacturer's website.
  6. In Device Manager, right-click the name of the adapter, and then click Properties.
    Figure 14: Properties selection
    Properties selection window
  7. Click the Driver tab. Make a note of the driver provider, date and version.
    Figure 15: Driver
    Image: Driver
  8. Check the driver provider's website for an updated driver.
  9. If the updated driver fails to solve the problem, go to the next step.

Step 4: Checking and reset hardware

Resetting the hardware on your wireless network in the proper sequence can resolve a variety of connection and performance problems.
  1. Click Start , and then click Shut down.
    Figure 16: Shut down
    Image: Shut down
  2. If your network includes a wireless router, wireless gateway or wireless modem/router combination, unplug the power cord.
    Figure 17: Power cord being unplugged from the back of a router
    Power cord being unplugged from the back of a router
  3. If your network includes a separate broadband modem, unplug the power cord from the broadband modem.
  4. Wait for about five seconds, and then plug the power cord into the wireless router (and broadband modem, if separate).
  5. Wait until all lights come on, and then reflect normal Internet and computer activity. If the lights on the broadband modem indicate a problem, refer to the following list of options for help:
    • If all lights are off after reconnecting the power, check the power source by plugging the power cord into another power outlet. Service or replace your broadband modem if it cannot be turned on.
    • If only the power light is on and the remaining activity lights are off or show no activity, a network connection is not being detected. Make sure the cable carrying the Internet signal is connected to the broadband device. Ensure Internet cables coming into your residence have not been damaged or disconnected. You might need to contact your Internet service provider if other people in your area are also experiencing Internet outages.
    • If the Internet or Online light consistently blinks and does not indicate an online connection is available, the problem likely resides with your Internet service provider. Either wait until service is restored or contact your Internet service provider for further assistance.
  6. Turn on your computer and wait until Windows opens. If you are using a notebook computer, perform a hard reset at this time.
    Wait until Windows automatically connects to your wireless Internet connection.
  7. Right-click the network connection icon in the system tray, and select Network and Sharing Center.
  8. Select Manage network connections.
  9. Verify the status of the wireless network. In this graphic, the wireless network is disabled.
  10. To enable the network, right-click the connection, and then select enable. It might take a few seconds for the connection to become enabled.
    A window might open prompting you for a password or push button connect actions depending on the type of security you are using.
  11. If you can connect to the network and to the Internet, you are done. If not, continue with the next step.

Step 5: Performing a Microsoft System Restore

If the computer was working on the wireless network in the past, but now cannot connect or performs poorly, use Microsoft System Restore to restore your system files back to a date and time when wireless networking was working well. For more information about how to use System Restore, see Using Microsoft System Restore (Windows Vista) .

Step 6: Other things to try

If your computer is still experiencing Wi-Fi connection or performance problems, one of the following sections might help resolve the issue.
Environment can greatly impact the effectiveness of your wireless network. Review the following conditions and recommended actions to improve your wireless networking experience.
Issue Recommended action
The farther the computer is from the router, the weaker the broadcast signal. Move the computer and router closer to each other. If you have a notebook computer, move the computer to several locations within your environment while looking at the signal strength indicator in the lower right corner of the Windows desktop. Choose a location where signal strength is the strongest.
Solid objects, such as walls, metal furniture, and electrical appliances decrease the range or can block connections.If possible, remove metal objects that are near or between the router and computer. Move the computer or router to a location where there are fewer solid object between the two.
Performance drops and there are multiple devices being used on your network. Limit the amount of devices that use the network at the same time, especially when watching videos streamed from the Internet.
When choosing a location, minimize the amount of solid objects between them, especially electronic devices and metal objects. If the wireless connection is still weak or has trouble connecting, consider purchasing a different antenna for your router or setup another router as a signal repeater.
If other devices can connect to your wireless network, but your computer cannot connect, a BIOS setting might be the cause of the problem. Use the section that matches your type of computer for specific BIOS reset steps:
BIOS reset steps to restore BIOS settings for HP notebook computers.
  1. Restart your notebook.
  2. After the computer restarts, press F10 repeatedly until the BIOS menu displays.
  3. Once the BIOS menu displays, press F9 to restore factory defaults.
  4. Select Yes to confirm.
  5. Press F10 to save changes and exit.
  6. Select Yes to confirm.
    The computer restarts using the default settings.
BIOS reset steps to restore BIOS settings for HP desktop and all-in-one computers.
  1. Restart your computer.
  2. After the computer restarts, press F10 repeatedly until BIOS menu displays.
  3. In the File tab, use the up or down arrow keys to select Default Setup, and then press enter.
  4. Use up or down arrow keys to select Restore Factory Settings as Default.
  5. Select OK to confirm.
  6. Press F10 to save changes and exit.
  7. Select Yes to confirm.
    The computer restarts using the default settings.
After restoring the default BIOS settings, if you can connect to the network and to the Internet, you are done. If not, continue with the next step.
Your wireless router has settings stored in firmware that might interfere with your computer's ability to connect or perform well (channel selection and band for example). Resetting the firmware settings on your router and re-establishing connections for all the devices that use the router is a good way to start over and fix many types of wireless related issues.
Use the following steps as a general guideline, but refer to the documentation that came with your router for detailed instructions or in the event these steps do not work for your router.
  1. Connect your computer to the router using a supported network cable.
  2. Open an Internet browser, and then type the default IP addresses for your router in the browser URL address field.
    NOTE: These default IP addresses, names and passwords are provided for informational purposes only and might not work with your router model. If this information does not allow you to log in to your router's setup page, refer to the User Guide that came with your router.
    Router Brand NameRouter IP AddressUser Name(s)Password(s)
    3Com http://192.168.1.1 admin no password required, or admin
    Belkin http://192.168.2.1no user name required, or adminno password required
    D-Link http://192.168.0.1 admin, or user no password required, or admin
    Linksys http://192.168.1.1 admin, no user name required, or Comcastadmin, no password required, or 1234
    Netgear http://192.168.0.1 admin password, 1234, or setup
  3. Type your user name and password.
  4. When you have administrator access to the router, change the default name (or SSID) of the router.
  5. Set up Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) or wireless encryption (WEP), to prevent other computers from connecting to your home network.
  6. Type your network access password, sometimes called a passphrase. Make sure to pick a password that is easy to remember, such as a phone number that you dial often or a phrase that is familiar.
If your computer can connect to the wireless router but performance is poor or the connection drops, changing the wireless channel band might help. Changing the wireless channel works best for 2.4 GHz routers and environments with lots of wireless network activity, such as apartment buildings.
The steps you need to change the wireless channel depend on the brand and model of wireless router you are using. You can use the following general steps to change the channels for most of the popular wireless routers. If these steps do not work, refer to the user guide that came with your router.
  1. Connect your computer directly to the router using a supported network cable.
  2. Open an Internet browser, and then type the default IP addresses for your router in the browser URL address field.
    NOTE: These default IP addresses, names and passwords are provided for informational purposes only and might not work with your router model. If this information does not allow you to log in to your router's setup page, refer to the User Guide that came with your router.
    Router Brand NameRouter IP AddressUser Name(s)Password(s)
    3Com http://192.168.1.1 admin no password required, or admin
    Belkin http://192.168.2.1no user name required, or adminno password required
    D-Link http://192.168.0.1 admin, or user no password required, or admin
    Linksys http://192.168.1.1 admin, no user name required, or Comcastadmin, no password required, or 1234
    Netgear http://192.168.0.1 admin password, 1234, or setup
  3. Type your user name and password.
  4. Scan through the setup pages on the web form to find the channel selection settings.
  5. Write done the name of the channel that your router is currently using in case you need to change it back.
  6. Select another number, and then save your settings. For example, if the channel is set to 6, select channel 1 and save.
  7. Test your wireless devices on your network to see if performance has improved. If not, you can repeat these steps and try another channel until you find one that works well.
Outdated firmware might affect performance, security, or prevent the router from accessing the Internet or certain Web pages. Log into the configuration menu for the router (as was done in the previous section), and then use the menu to update the firmware dedicated to the router. Consult the User Guide that came with your manual for information on how to perform a firmware update. It is a good idea to connect the computer directly to the router using its network cable when doing the firmware update.
Most wireless devices can be turned off by the system to save power. In some sleep scenarios, the device might wake properly when the system returns from sleep or hibernate. To prevent this from happening, adjust the power management settings for the wireless adapter.
  1. Click Start , and then type Device Manager in the search field.
  2. Select Device Manager from the list of results.
  3. Double-click Network Adapters to expand the list, right-click the wireless (Wi-Fi) adapter in the list, and then select Properties.
    Figure 18: Device Manager
    Device Manager window
  4. In the adapter properties window, click the Power Management tab.
  5. Remove the check mark next to Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power, and then click OK.
    Figure 19: Power Management
    Image: Power Management
Close the Device Manager, restart the notebook computer, and then attempt to reconnect to the wireless network.
If your computer originally came with Windows Vista and has HP Recovery Manager, you can use it to remove all software and restore your computer's original software configuration. Before using this option, make sure you back up all of your important files. For more information, refer to Performing an HP System Recovery (Windows Vista) .
If you have tried the actions in this document and cannot establish a connection or the wireless connection continues to perform poorly, your wireless adapter card might need to reseated or replaced. Service the computer to replace or repair the wireless adapter hardware.

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