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Constant Drop or Limited Wireless Connection

I run a wireless card and a Buffalo wireless router on my Win Vista desktop system.  I get constant drops even though I have no problem when I'm accessing the router on my l laptop.  The distance is exactly the same and this issue is now driving me crazy.  I've completely stopped using my desktop.  Can someone instruct me some why to test why this is occurring?  
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viperboy333
Asked:
viperboy333
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2 Solutions
 
tenaj-207Commented:
Hi Viperboy333,

I've found that some hardware works best with WEP.  Try reconfiguring your wireless with simple 64bit WEP encryption to determine if the issue is with the hardware.
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PugglewuggleCommented:
tenaj-207 - Sorry WEP should NEVER be used - it can be cracked in 40 seconds with an old laptop and free software when using a 128-bit key! A 64-bit key is just a joke. If just using for testing it is okay for a few minutes, but never actually leave it setup this way.
Viperboy333: have you updated the firmware on the router and the driver on the computer? Just go to the manufacturer's website and you should be able to find the download section.
In my experience, I find that this solves about half of peoples' problems.
Once you do this, try using your wireless and see if it still drops. If it does let me know and I'll give you more info.
Cheers! :)
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tenaj-207Commented:
Pugglewuggle - No need to be sorry.

Viperboy - Try updating the drivers/firmware first, as Pugglewuggle suggests, and if that doesn't work "test" WEP.  If WEP works fine you know that the wireless card or wireless software you're using isn't compatible.  Are you using the built in MS wireless software or the 3rd party software that came with the card?  If you're using the software that came with the card try uninstalling it, or set the MS software to connect by default instead.
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PugglewuggleCommented:
:)
From my experience WEP has done nothing but complicate things when troubleshooting wireless - on both home equipment like yours and on Cisco enterprise equipment. WPA seems to be more stable anyways.
As for testing, if you can't get any crypto to work, try it unsecured for a few minutes (be careful not to leave this on!!!) and see if that drops on you too.
I have a feeling that updating the firmware/drivers will clear up this issue.
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viperboy333Author Commented:
I looked on the Buffalo website, and the firmware version is the same.  Should I still update this?
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viperboy333Author Commented:
Also, I have no idea what my wireless drivers are located.  I don't even know the manufacture.  How would I find out?
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PugglewuggleCommented:
No, there is no need to update the firmware then... it has the latest version. If you go the device manager in windows and expand Network Adapters it will list your devices. If you aren't sure which one it is, just post a screenshot of that window or type out the devices it lists.
Cheers!
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Darr247Commented:
>  I don't even know the manufacture.  How would I find out?

What is the brand and model of the desktop computer?
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PugglewuggleCommented:
That's not going to for sure get the right info... it could be a third party adapter, and often manufacturers use different cards over the production cycle of a particular model.
It would be much more accurate to just check device manager - it will tell you exactly what you have.
Just letting you know! Cheers!
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devshbCommented:
Another possible problem might be if you have lots of usb sockets in use on your laptop/pc. Having too many things plugged into your usb sockets can cause the connections to each peripheral to be unstable.

Depending on the laptop/pc and the peripherals, "too many" might be as little as 2 or 3 things.

For example, on my laptop I had to buy a belkin remote keyboard and mouse package which just had a single usb plug (instead of having a separate plug for a keyboard and mouse), but even then my connection becomes unstable if I also have my printer plugged in. Printers seem to drain more power out of the sockets than anything else; unplugging a printer can often help stabilise the internet connection.

This might not be your problem, but I thought it's worth pointing it out as I also had connection problems like yours and it took me a while to find out that it wasn't anything to do with drivers or configuration, and was purely down to too many things being plugged into the usb sockets.
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viperboy333Author Commented:
I looked up my device manager.  IT is a RealTek 8185 Extensible 802.11 b/g Wireless Device.  I remember I bought this after I bought my desktop.  I went to RealTek's website to look for drivers.  Should I update the drivers on this?

As for the USB, the only think I have connect to the USB is my mouse at the moment.  I unplugged the printer USB cable.  I can't imagine my mouse is kill my wireless adapter card.  As a note, my wireless adapter card is inside the PC, not a USB card.

On RealTek's website, I couldn't find any driver for 8185, only 8187.  Maybe this the problem?
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PugglewuggleCommented:
Sorry Darr247. USB has nothing to do with this. USB power is applied seperately from the PCI bus. Not to mention that you can connect over 100 USB devices with no problem as long as there is enough power for them all. Stop making stuff up.
Here is a link for the driver - you will need an account but it is free to sign up:
http://members.driverguide.com/index.php?action=dosearch&qm0=8185&qa5=12&qa6=891&dp=3&sm=b&jmd=and
There are lots of drivers there for lots of OSes for the 8185
Cheers! Let me know if that helps!
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Darr247Commented:
> Sorry Darr247. USB has nothing to do with this.

What on earth are you blathering on about?
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devshbCommented:
darr247: pugglewuggle got the handle mixed up; he was referring to me not you.

It might indeed be that usb has nothing to do with it; I was just saying that in some instances, if you don't have a separately powered usb hub, then having too many things plugged into your laptop/pc can cause connection problems to printers and routers. This might not be the problem in this particular instance, but in some situations it can be; it depends on what hardware is being used and what's physically plugged into what.
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Darr247Commented:
http://www.realtek.com.tw/downloads/downloadsView.aspx?Langid=1&PNid=24&PFid=1&Level=6&Conn=5&DownTypeID=3&Downloads=true

Should take you to the page with those FTP links on them, viperboy333.
You can also get there by starting at

http://www.realtek.com.tw/downloads/downloadsView.aspx?Langid=1&PNid=24&PFid=1&Level=6&Conn=5&DownTypeID=3

checking the 8185 box, then clicking the go button, if the first link doesn't take you there directly.
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PugglewuggleCommented:
Sorry Darr, wrong name man. :)
@devshb: Not being a butt, but it doesn't have anything to do with this.
Cheers guys! Sorry again Darr.
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viperboy333Author Commented:
Thanks for the links.  So I downloaded and installed the 8185L software.  I've gotten several hours of connectivity, but I still experience drops between 5-10 sec.  I have 2 bars, which is odd since the router is only a room away.  Any other suggestions for improvement?  But this has been very helpful.  At least I can now use my desktop.
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Darr247Commented:
That sounds like it could be caused by interference.  Could you load up Netstumbler (http://www.netstumbler.com/downloads/ ) and see if your card provides noise information?

(not all do... all the Atheros-based cards I've tried do, but I don't know which RF chipsets Realtek uses.)

If the noise floor fluctuates that would probably be RF interference of some kind. See the Signal to Noise Ratio graphs by drilling down in the Channels or SSIDs trees... that program will also tell you if there are nearby rogue APs using the same channel you're on. That can cause interference drop outs too. Let it run for a half hour or so and see what it finds, please.
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PugglewuggleCommented:
Agreed on the interference. Do you live by power lines? Does one of your neighbors weld? Does it possibly happen while the microwave is on?
Netstumbler is very good for this type of thing - good call.
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viperboy333Author Commented:
There are some power lines outside, but nothing large.  I don't think my neighbors weld since I live in an apartment.  I don't think the microwave causes anything.  Finally, I installed Netstumbler.  It doesn't seem to find my wireless adapter.

Does that mean it doesn't work or I'm I suppose to do something?
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PugglewuggleCommented:
How close are they? I know this might sound mad, but power lines OTHER than the regular ones next to where you are can be a big problem.
Net stumbler can have problems with certain chipsets... try using another program like the ones found here:
http://www.wlanbook.com/netstumbler-alternatives/
Surely you'll be able to find one that works with your wirless card. Just let me know how it goes and I'll do my best to help! Cheers!
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viperboy333Author Commented:
So I installed a program called inSSIDer.  It tells me that there are a lot of other networks in my area.  I'm using Channel 1 along with two other network devices.  my RSSI is -82.  My security is RSNA-CCMP.

There's a trolly power cable outside my apartment window.  

Is there some information for inSSIDer that confirms the powerline problem?
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PugglewuggleCommented:
Not really... All that sounds rather normal.
Can you try one of the other programs?
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viperboy333Author Commented:
so i installed Vistumbler, but i'm not exactly sure how to report the outcome of this program to you.  

Here is a picture  of my output.  there are some random drops in the graph

http://www.randomintervals.com/wifi/tmp/1015023026.png
Untitled.jpg
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tenaj-207Commented:
Viperboy333,

There seems to be an issue with your card and vista.  Try rolling the driver back to it's original state and see if that helps.  If not then I think your best option is to get a different card that's more compatible with Vista.

See this link for more information;
http://www.windowskb.com/Uwe/Forum.aspx/windows-vista-networking/4634/Vista-won-t-stay-connected-anymore
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viperboy333Author Commented:
The Roll-back worked.  It was the driver that killed this.  I'm not back and running.  While Pugglewuggle didn't provide the correct answer, he/she was always really helpful.  Thanks to everyone
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