Wireless Connection Troubleshooting 3

Connection difficulties arise from any number of issues, including both hardware and software; even poor positioning of an access point or its antenna can be enough to significantly degrade a signal.

This tutorial part 3, presents these issues in a condensed FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) format, hopefully easier to read and will help you more quickly find the information you need to solve your problem.

I know the password and address of my AP, but I still can’t see it over the network. What’s next?

The problem may be the network connection itself. Before testing that, however, try pinging the AP:

  1. Open the Run dialog box (Start>Run or Windows key + R).
  2. Enter the text CMD and press the Enter key.
  3. Enter PING XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX in the Command Prompt window where the X’s are replaced by the AP’s default IP address.
  4. If you get a response, move to a different computer to test the management software, or connect your AP directly to a computer to manage it. Don’t forget that you need to ping from a system that can see the AP, one on the same hub or with the same subnet.
  5. If you get no response, close the Command Prompt and proceed to the next tests.

Wired network connections are easily tested, and the problems fall into the following categories:

  • Bad network cable (CAT5).
  • Cable connection is not properly seated.
  • The hub’s port is damaged.
  • The hub itself is damaged.
  • The hub has an uplink that is not functioning because the button has been inadvertently pressed changing the uplink to a simple port.
  • The link to the network from the hub is damaged.

The best way to test these possibilities is in stages. You can eliminate the entire set of possibilities by plugging a working device like a laptop into the network cable end that was connected to the AP. If you can see the network, then none of the preceding possibilities is the problem.

If the physical connection is faulty, do the following:

  1. Swap out the network cable; then check your connection.
  2. Move the connection to another port on the hub; then check your connection.
  3. Check the uplink button; then check your connection.
  4. Replace the hub, or move the AP and testing computer to another hub and see if you can see the network.

If none of these issues are problems and you have a live wire connection to the network, but still can’t see the access point, it is time to call technical support at the company that makes or sold you the access point.

It’s also probably time to replace the access point. The truth is that some access points/routers/repeaters that are built for the consumer market (and particularly the ones that were introduced early on a year or two ago) were not well made and have high defect rates.

If your access point is troublesome, cuts out, and you can’t figure out why after you do everything that you can think of, it is time to replace it. Use the rationale that the newer model with the SuperUltraModulate HighGain 802.11! will be worth the extra cost and you are just trading up.

Whatever rationale you do use, realize that your time has a certain value and that after you’ve invested the appropriate amount of time, it is time to move on. There’s always eBay, right?

Sometimes the problem is that you have a connection, but for some reason that connection is either slow, transient, or doesn’t allow you to actually view systems on your network. Following are some common reasons and methods for addressing problems of those types.

My wireless network connection is really slow. What could be possible causes?

The good news is that you have a connection. The bad news is that while you wait for your e-mail everyone else in the office went home long ago. There are several reasons why you could be getting a poor data throughput from your connection.

First, check that your wireless network is the correct and active network connection. If you have more than one network interface, such as a wired and wireless connection, older systems tend to have trouble managing that.

If that’s the case, disable your wired connection. Interference is another reason why connections become slow. Check to see that there aren’t any competing radio sources interfering with your connection’s signal.

Beyond turning off any microwave ovens, wireless phones, baby monitors, cordless game controllers, and wireless radios, make sure that none of these devices is within 25 feet of your system.

Also, check to see if your wireless setup has one access point interfering with the signal of another. That is, if you have two access points with the same channel, they can reduce the signal from each other where they overlap.

I’m connected and my throughput is good, but I can’t find any of the computers on the network. What’s wrong?

You may need to enable file and print sharing. In Windows XP, open the Wireless Network Connection Properties dialog box, click the General tab, and make sure that the section entitled “This connection uses the following items” has File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks checked and enabled.

If this checkbox isn’t present, do the following:

  1. Click the Install button.
  2. Select Services.
  3. Click the Add button.
  4. Select File and Print Sharing for Microsoft Networks.
  5. Click OK, enable the service, and close the Network Connection Properties dialog box.

In Windows 2000, the procedure is a little different. There the service is enabled as follows:

  1. Open the Network and Dial-up Connections control panel and click Local Area Connection.
  2. Click Properties; then under the “Components checked are used by the connection” section select the File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks checkbox (if necessary).
  3. If that checkbox is missing, click Install, Service, and click Add.
  4. Select the File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks and click OK.
  5. Close the Local Area Connection Properties, then close the Local Area Connection Status dialog box, and finally close the Network and Dialup Connections window.