What to Do When You Can’t Connect to Your Wireless Network

5 of 14 in Series: The Essentials of Networking with Your Laptop with Windows Vista

Connecting to a network wirelessly can be as simple as turning on your laptop and tuning in to the WiFi signal, but it can also be very frustrating if the conditions aren't right or the settings are improper.

So what to do if your WiFi doesn’t work? Consider these two essentials:

  • Turn on. Nearly every laptop with WiFi capabilities has a physical switch on the case or a soft switch in software that enables or disables the transmitter/receiver. If your WiFi doesn’t work, the first thing to do is check to see if it's turned on. Consult the instruction manual or support desk for assistance if necessary.

  • Tune in. Just because you have a WiFi card doesn’t mean you’ll find a signal everywhere you go. And just because you find a signal doesn’t mean that the transmitter owner will allow anyone to sign on and share the bandwidth.

Now, what happens if you’re a subscriber or an authorized user of a private network or are attempting to sign on to a public network and have no success? Check to make sure that the WiFi adapter is switched on. Then check to see if the Device Manager under Windows shows a hardware failure or fails to note the presence of a wireless adapter. Many laptop manufacturers also provide a specialized WiFi control utility that may include a troubleshooting utility.

If you determine that your WiFi system has failed, you may be able to replace the module. However, some manufacturers require that this repair be done at an authorized repair facility to comply with Federal Communications Commission rules to shield against unintended interference. One way around this expensive solution is to use a PC Card WiFi system as a workaround; those require nothing more than plugging in to the slot.

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The Essentials of Networking with Your Laptop with Windows Vista

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