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Odd wireless behavior...

Posted on 2013-11-25
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Last Modified: 2016-11-23
I've got a Dell studio1555 that has been giving me fits with wireless networking oddities.

Laptop was running vista home premium & i upgraded to win 7, as that wasn't the first vista laptop that had weird wireless problems. Right after the upgrade (custom, did fresh install on reformatted HD), it detected the wireless network in the office & connected fine. Was going through windows updates, as well as Dell driver updates & at some point, it disconnected & couldn't connect to network. Windows troubleshooting suggested rebooting the router & since that wasn't an option, I got out my Verizon jetpack & connected to it. all worked fine for a while & then suddenly that could no longer connect to the internet. Windows troubleshooting suggested the same fix, but since my mac laptop was still connected to jetpack & internet was working fine, I thought it was something else. Got back home & once again, it found my home wireless network, worked for a while & then eventually the same problem - can't connect to my wireless network! Laptop wireless is the intel wifi link 5100 AGN & I do have latest drivers from dell.

What could be the problem?
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Question by:gromack
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by:John Hurst
ID: 39676441
Go to Windows 7 Power Management and go to the Wireless settings. Make sure wireless is set to Maximum Performance for both AC and Battery.

Go to Device Manager and select Properties of the wireless card. Under the power tab, uncheck the setting that says "allow this card to be turned off".

I think power management is probably the issue here.

... Thinkpads_User
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by:web_tracker
ID: 39676553
If you are running your laptop off of battery power the laptop may turn off the wireless card to conserve on battery power. When plugged in via power adapter the wireless card may stay on depending upon how the power management settings are set. Depending upon what Dell utilities you have installed you may be able to change the power management functions of the card within the utility. These settings may over ride the settings in the operating system. So if doing what Thinkpad_user stated does not help check to see if you have the Dell utilty installed that manages the power settings.
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Expert Comment

by:Vetticad
ID: 39676576
I have seen this behaviour before. Mostly the reason being, Microsoft update/Dell update installed a new version of the wireless card driver over the existing one. Windows keeps the older version just for this reason, latest drivers may not be the best for a older part, even though it may install fine.
To revert back to the older driver, go to device manager--> Network adapters, find your "5100 AGN", double click on it, go the the tab titled "Driver". In there, hopefully you should see an option for "Roll Back Driver" enabled. Click on that, accept the warning, let it finish, reboot.

In the rare case (as both MS & Dell updates were running, there is a chance of MS installing one driver and then Dell installing their version of the driver. So, if you still experience problem, repeat above steps and if "Roll Back Driver" option is still enabled, do the roll back once more, reboot.

If everything goes fine, make sure to note down the driver version and keep a copy of that specific version setup files handy and do not allow MS or Dell to automatically update whatever they think, if you have patience, do it manually after checking what All things are going to be updated. The reason being, when the next auto update occurs, the newer version will get installed again. In Microsoft update, there is an option to hide specific updates, so if you see a network adapter update, just hide it.
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Author Comment

by:gromack
ID: 39677769
Changed power settings & seems to be acting better.
It did lose the connection once this morning - while I was in the process of checking/changing settings, but it did reconnect, something it hasn't done in the past!
Will leave it on & connected to Internet & will report back later today.
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Author Comment

by:gromack
ID: 39679543
Ok, rolling the driver back seemed to have worse results, as it didn't even see my wireless network after that.
I went back to the Dell/Intel driver & after a short while my status would change to connected with no internet access & then not connected at all. Built-in troubleshooter wants me to reboot router, but since other laptops, iPhone, Kindle, etc., all are connected fine, I really don't see how it could be a problem with my wireless router. Also, if it matters, when it loses connection, I can go to device manager & no yellow exclamation symbols there. COuld it be the wi-fi module in the laptop? Other than replacing it, is there a way to tell?
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John Hurst earned 500 total points
ID: 39679664
You can try an external wireless adapter connected by USB to test. If that works, then replacing the internal NIC would be in order.

... Thinkpads_User
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Expert Comment

by:Vetticad
ID: 39679802
Could you find earlier versions of wifi drivers from the Dell website. If yes, pls try that also after uninstalling the one installed. Wifi driver updates have created similar problems. As I mentioned earlier, the latest driver may not be the answer. Some times, you will have to try most of the previous versions available, to find one that works.

BTW, did u also try unticking the "allow computer to turn this off" option in the wifi properties, under device manager. It can also put the wifi module off (have dealt with a few instances), thereby losing internet connection.
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by:John Hurst
ID: 39687544
@gromack - Thank you and I was happy to help here.

... Thinkpads_User
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by:gromack
ID: 39687548
You're quite welcome!
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