More Wireless Woes

Today, Tricia writes:

I have a Sony Vaio laptop that is running Windows Vista. I am having issues with the wireless card disabling itself. I installed a bunch of Windows updates and now I cannot use my wireless. I enable the wireless card and it still doesn’t recognize the signal coming from my router. I didn’t have any problems connecting via wireless before installing these updates and I an at a loss as to what to do to correct it. I have tried updating the drivers for the card as well as uninstalling and reinstalling the wireless card and nothing worked.

Well sounds like you covered the most everything one would generally think of. One thing that has me thinking, despite you pointing out that the problems clearly that appear to be related to a recent update, would be to check some things out on the router side.

If you are using encryption of some kind (WEP or WPA), you might disable them for testing purposes only. I say this as it might have been possible that the updates did something at this level. Another thing is to check the Device Manager and check if there is any indication that the card is being detected, but reflecting a problem. Vista is generally pretty good about this sort of thing, but it can happen nevertheless.

If the card is being detected, seeing Wi-Fi networks yet failing to connect to yours, consider going to another hotspot to see if the results are any different there. Seems a bit odd perhaps, but sometimes it can yield success that might point back to the router.

If everything above is a total failure and you have had your fill of troubleshooting this issue, I would bite the bullet and purchase a Vista certified USB dongle. Understand, this is not a fix by any stretch, but I always have a USB dongle with me should my wireless suddenly stop working for some reason.

Taking a moment to tap into the Lockergnome community, I would encourage you hit the comments and share some troubleshooting tips you believe might be of help here.

Do you have an IT-related question? Perhaps you are just burnt out on writing on the walls with crayons? Whatever the comments may be, drop me a line, and you too can “Just Ask Matt!” Please address comments to the comments section above, my email address is for questions – thanks!

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  • leftystrat

    Have you spoken with the vendor or checked their knowledgebase? You might not be the only one with this problem. Or you might also be among the first to discover that a Win update hoses the wireless.

    I agree about disabling encryption. I had a similar issue under linux.

    I don’t know Vista but can you rollback the updates like you can with XP? Roll back one at a time til the wireless operates. If it becomes functional, you know it’s one of the updates.

    Good luck.

  • Julian Horn

    I have had this problem with Toshibas. If as Matt says, the adapter is showing OK in Device Manage, I have found that this works – no idea why though!
    1) Connect to the router via an ethernet cable. (Check whether the router DHCP server is enabled and check laptop is set to get an IP address automatically. (Or they are both on the same subnet). If all is well you should be able to connect to the Internet via cable. If you cant then there is no point in proceeding further until you can.
    2) Disable security in the router, disconnect cable and then check you can connect from the laptop – make sure wireless adapter is turned on (if you cant connect ignore the rest of this post something is wrong with the adapter in which case switch to a dongle)
    3) Enable WPA security in the router and try again from the laptop. In 3 cases now that sorted the trouble. WEP for some reason would not work but WPA would.

  • Dan

    As usual, I wish I had more information. Is the device itself being disabled in device manager or is it just not pickup a siginal.
    If it is the former, try changing the power saving settings to high performance. If it is the later, try changing the channel on the wireless router, if you can not get to another hot spot.
    Also, make sure Internet Connection Sharing is turned off.
    Good luck,

  • Randy Allen

    Look at your services. (Control Panel, Administrative Tools, Services) Check to see that Wan services are running and set to auto.

  • Matt Wilkinson

    Hi Tricia. I have a customer with a Sony VAIO notebook also running Vista… he has some very odd issues with Wireless LAN connectivity as well. It works some of the time, but not all of the time. For example, it works at my home’s WLAN, and at a Starbucks and Panera Bread… but at a coffee house near his home, it doesn’t work. Which is odd, because Vista’s wireless icon says “connected” and the network and sharing center actually says “Local and Internet”… but there really isn’t Internet connectivity.

    I’m going to see if there are updated Wireless drivers for the integrated Wireless. And if that doesn’t work, it may be a matter of using another brand of Wireless adapter, which is utterly silly to have to resort to, but if it works, it works.

    You are not alone… this kind of connectivity issue is more common than one would think.

  • Bob

    Hi Tricia,

    My wifes Sony Vaio laptop (VGN-NR260E) did the same thing, resetting the network connections and wep key didn’t help.

    Check on the taskbar for available wireless function (looks like 2 arrows) right click on it then click show main window.
    In the next window Vaio smart networks be sure WALN is checked.

    Go back to your control panel network connections disconnect from any wireless networks then re-connect to the one you want. Worked for me hope it helps you.

  • Matt Wilkinson


    I finally caught up with my one customer (previously mentioned) that was having wireless issues on his Sony VAIO laptop. It worked part of the time, but not all of the time. Turns out that he had hard-coded static DNS IP’s setup on his IPv4 properties on the Wireless adapter. Once I changed it to automatic DNS assignment, everything fell into place. Of course, he had no idea how those IP addy’s got there. I figure he was in a hotel, and perhaps that ISPs help desk had him enter those.

    This probably is not the cause of your woes, but it takes a few moments to check it.

  • Matthew

    Thanks Bob, Your technique worked for me.

  • Max

    I have a Z11WN and have started to experience quite randomly, my wireless untiity enabling/disabling itself.

    this happens at known and trusted wireless routers, at work and home.

    Any ideas anyone?