Wireless networking isn’t the easiest thing to set up or to keep running correctly. That’s what subscriber Russ McDonald found out recently. He wrote to ask for some help:
I have a HP laptop running Windows 7. I have been using Firefox for my browser for quite some time.
Recently it quit working as well as IE. I found that I have a 64bit version of IE that does work.
The error I am getting is stating that it is unable to access the network.
I have a wireless network and it is working just fine with my work laptop also running FireFox and IE.
Do you have any idea what might be causing my issue?
It seems it isolated to 128bit versions of browsers. I’m a novice at this so please be very basic in your explanation, if you have one.
I wrote back to Russ to say that I suspect that his HP laptop is connecting to someone else’s router and then getting blocked by their settings.
I suggested that he make sure his laptop connects only to his router. The procedure would involve changes in both his settings for wireless networking on his computer and also, perhaps, on his router.
First and foremost, he should make sure that he is not using the default SSID (think of this as a wireless network ID – it’s separate and distinct from the network name of the router) on his wireless router. That’s the easiest way to get into trouble.
For example, if he has a Linksys wireless router, the default SSID for the wireless router is "Linksys".
Now, what happens if his router is set to the default SSID, and his neighbor also has a Linksys wireless router with the default SSID. Both routers are identifying their SSID as Linksys – so his computer doesn’t have any way to tell which router is which and gets confused.
The 32-bit browsers vs 64-bit browsers shouldn’t have a thing to do with it. Also, there are no 128-bit browser versions for Windows, yet, since there’s no 128-bit version of Windows.
Russ wrote back with a little more information on his problem:
My wireless Thinkpad is sitting right next to my wireless HP and it has no issues with either Firefox or IE.
I assumed Firefox and IE were both 128 bits since the other IE shown on the HP under All programs calls it self a 64 bit and it is able to access the internet.
I have even tried connecting via wire with same results. I also have a Gateway running Vista hardwired to this same modem running without issues.
The HP was working before but not now. Any suggestions as to next steps?
I missed a critical pair of sentences, which didn’t stand out until I formatted Russ’ email for this article (Russ had written it all as one big paragraph). I’ll discuss those two in a minute, and what other possibility it raises.
I had responded to Russ to suggest that he start over on setting up the HP wireless – as if he had never used it before. Set up Wireless step-by-step on your wireless HP laptop. every step.
Here are a few ideas — just about all I can do by email, since malfunctioning wireless is the biggest problem with wireless — and there are so many possible reasons…
My favorite saying is that solving wireless networking problems requires the proper voodoo. The first step involves a dead chicken (preferably spicy fried chicken from Popeye’s <grin>).
Some questions that can help you solve a wireless router problem:
- can you ping the router from your computer?
- can you ping an Internet site by name, e.g. www.google.com ?
- can you ping an Internet site by IP address, e.g. 126.96.36.199 (which is www.google.com)?
- is your computer using the same encryption type as the router is using?
- is your computer using the same password that the router expects?
- can you load the router’s configuration screen via firefox or ie?
- do you have the router set to only accept connections from specific MAC addresses (you should do this for security reasons!)?
- if so, is the HP laptop’s wireless connection MAC address in the list? entered correctly?
- is your firewall software blocking your Internet access?
There’s another thought that comes up with Russ’ comment about not being able to connect to the router even when using a wired connection. I saw a somewhat similar problem develop with my old Linksys WRT-54G wireless router when it was 4-5 years old.
I could ping through the router to anywhere, by IP address or by name. I could get email with my POP3 email program of choice. I could send email with the same program. But, my web browsing simply did not work – IE, Firefox and Opera 32-bit versions simply could not get to web sites.
The problem was a hardware problem. I replaced the router with a new one.