Subscriber Howie Kipnes wrote this week with a wireless networking problem. It used to work, and now it doesn’t on one of his computers.
Howie’s question was:
My latest issue involves not being able to connect to the internet with my new laptop. It is a Dell Inspirion and I’ve had it for a month or so. It had been working fine until the other night when I suddenly lost connectivity.
When I click on the icon in the lower right corner it says I am connected to my network, but no internet access with an unidentified network having no internet access. My wife’s laptop is connected to the same router and her connection is fine.
I hit troubleshoot and repair and it came back as “the default gateway is not available.” Not fixed. The map goes from the computer to an unidentified network to the home network and a red X is on the line from the unidentified network to the home network. The working laptop goes from computer to network to internet.
You have helped me before and I hope you can again.
Thank you very much.
I wrote to Howie to say that it sounds like he might be connecting to a neighbor’s router instead of to his router.
One of the problems that I have had with third party wireless utilities is that they don’t always correctly connect to the right router. In every case so far, I’ve solved the problem by changing to Windows’ Wireless Zero Configuration utility, instead of the utility that came with the wireless card or wireless USB adapter.
WZC allows you to specify the router SSID’s to which the wireless adapter will connect automatically. Some of the other utilities don’t provide this level of control – they will remember the network’s password, but can’t seem to remember which network they’re supposed to connect to.
As a way to make sure that he’s connecting to the correct wireless router, I asked him what his router’s SSID is. Then, I urged him to check to make sure that his router’s SSID was the one to which his computer was connecting.
One tip for everyone — if your wireless router’s SSID is "Linksys" or "DLink" or something like that (manufacturer name), CHANGE IT TO SOMETHING UNIQUE. Not just unique, but you really want to set it to something that doesn’t identify it as YOUR network – just A network. In this case, Howie would not want to set his SSID to KIPNESS or HOWIE, but to something relatively unique and non-descriptive. Examples: MOONGLOW, ROBIN, WALLHANGING — anything that’s relatively unique (in your neighborhood), so that you will know it’s your network.
Of course, once you change your router’s SSID, you will need to change all your devices that will connect wirelessly to use the new SSID.