Q. My computer won’t attach to my WiFi router?

Troubleshooting steps for WiFi connections:

First of all, make sure that you know the router’s network name (SSID), and the password (WPA key). If you don’t know these, ask the owner of the router.  If you are the owner and you have forgotten them, then go here.

Next, check to see that your machine has wireless capability and it is turned on.

  • Some laptops have a WiFi on-off switch on the side or back of the case.  If it has been accidentally turned off, the machine will not try to use WiFi.  Some laptops use a function key combination to turn WiFi on and off.  Check your owners manual.
  • Also check the Network control panel or System Preferences to see that it is turned on there.

Are you within reasonable range of the router, without a lot of walls blocking the signal?  Move closer to the router to test.
Does your machine’s wireless card detect other networks? If so, then there’s a good chance there’s nothing wrong with your machine.
If your machine doesn’t detect any WiFi networks even when you know they are available, it may have a hardware problem or a software problem.

  • If the machine has an accessible WiFi card, make sure it is seated properly in its socket, and that the antenna connection if it has one, if properly connected.
  • If necessary, download and re-install the latest wireless card software drivers for your OS version from your machine manufacturer’s or the wireless card manufacturer’s website.

You need to be sure that the router is working.  Are there other machines successfully using it wirelessly? Can you connect to the router with an Ethernet cable from your machine? Does it work OK while cabled?

Log onto the Admin interface of the router while connected by Ethernet cable, and check the Wireless configuration. (Refer to the routers owners manual or website for instructions).

  • Is wireless networking turned on?
  • What mode(s) are supported, B, G and/or N? Make sure that the router and your machine are operating in the same WiFi mode – Wireless B, G or N. Most routers can handle all three, but it is possible to set the administrative settings on a router for only one WiFi mode.
  • Is MAC address filtering turned on or off?
  • Is SSID broadcasting turned on or off?
  • Is the router set to serve DHCP?

If the router can’t be used by other machines or by Ethernet cable, then

  • shut off the broadband modem and the router,
  • wait 60 seconds turn on the modem, wait 60 seconds,
  • turn on the router, wait 60 seconds,
  • and then check to see if it is working.
  • Double check the cable(s) by unplugging and replugging them from the router and the modem.
  • Call your broadband ISP to verify that there is no problem with their network or your account. They may walk you through the above steps again.

Now, a question: when you go to connect wirelessly, does your computer recognize that the router is there by showing the network name and asking you for the password, or does it not find any router to log onto at all?

If it does not find a network at all, the router may have had its SSID broadcast turned off. In that case it is still running, but it is not broadcasting to the neighborhood “I am here and this is my name”. You will have to enter the network name (SSID) manually by choosing “Other Network” in your wireless network settings. You need to spell the network name exactly, and enter the WPA password.

If MAC (Media Access Control) filtering is turned on on the router, then only specific computers and devices are allowed to sign on. Each Ethernet card and WiFi card has a unique MAC identifier number.  If the router is restricting access to specific MAC IDs, then your machine may need to be added to the list by the router owner.  If you replaced a WiFi card on a machine, or got a new machine, the MAC address will be different.

Your machine should be set to get the IP address automatically from the router (DHCP).  If it is not, or if the settings have been set manually, it may not be in the same range of network numbers (subnet) as the router.  The router will have a default internal LAN IP address something like (it will vary by manufacturer, and it may have been changed manually). In the Network settings, your computer should either show “Auto” for getting its IP address from the router

If it is not getting the address automatically (DHCP off), then it should have the numbers entered which correspond to your router:  Under Default Gateway or Router address should be the number of the router  Under Subnet should be  If the machine has a manually assigned IP address, it must be within the range of the same three address segments 192.168.0.xxx where xxx is the individual machine address within the local network.  xxx is a number between 1 and 255, it cannot be the same as the router, or any other server or other device with  a fixed IP address within your network.

If you have checked everything above and your machine is persistently not recognizing the router, then you may want to delete the stored network configuration(s) and start from scratch through the Control Panel or System Preferences.

When you locate the network name with your Network Settings or your WiFi logon, make sure you type the WPA password accurately. It is case sensitive, so double check you don’t have CapsLock on, and watch your upper and lower case.  Remember that 1’s can be mistaken for l’s or I’s. 0’s for o’s and O’s, and 5’s for s’s (and vice versa).

Here’s some links to help out





Connection troubleshooting
Windows XP: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/314095
Windows Vista: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-vista/Troubleshoot-network-connection-problems
Windows 7: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows/help/wired-and-wireless-network-connection-problems-in-windows
OSX: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1714

Windows XP video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=czn5AmGVuoQ

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