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Computer WiFi failure-- need advice. External Antenna the solution??


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#1 LobsterRed

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Posted 06 October 2017 - 01:57 PM

Hi!  Two related matters to discuss.

 

1) Yesterday-- quite suddenly and unexpectedly-- my computer's WiFi internet connection stopped functioning.  I know that the problem lies with my computer and not with Verizon's FiOS  Wifi itself or the router signal because, first of all, my other computer still has a perfect FiOS WiFi internet connection in the exact same location, and, second of all,  because it's not merely my own FiOS WiFi connection that has a problem-- the location on my computer that shows the WiFi networks in my vicinity normally displays five or six different ones, but now is saying "No networks available" (while those networks are all displayed on the second computer whose WiFi is still working normally).  So from that I conclusively infer that somehow my computer's WiFi has stopped functioning.

Rebooting has not altered that status.  So my first question is: might I have inadvertently done something to cause this problem, and in any case, is there any place on my computer I can go to in order to remedy the absence of WiFi?  I already tried using the WiFi ON and WiFi OFF settings, and the Airplane Mode ON and OFF settings, but no matter how I adjust them (obviously ending up in WiFi ON and Airplane Mode OFF) it doesn't change a thing.  I have a Lenovo Ideapad Z580, using Windows 8.1.  

 

2) So I'm concluding that the only way to deal with this situation is to buy an External WiFi Antenna to plug into a USB port-- an antenna that will accommodate the very fast internet speed I get with FiOS (about 60 Mbps down and up).  Am I correct that, first of all, an External WiFi antenna will remedy the problem and, second, that an External WiFi antenna is the only solution?  Please make any recommendations you deem appropriate regarding the specifications I should look for in the External WiFi Antenna.  I see a number of pretty cheap ones (under $10) online-- will these do the job properly?



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#2 britechguy

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Posted 06 October 2017 - 02:20 PM

Number One:  Control Panel, Device Manager, Network Adapters, "Whatever your WiFi Adapter is Named" to check to see if it is enabled.  If it somehow got disabled at the Device Manager level then the other routes you've taken will not reenable it.

 

Number two:  I have used nothing but micro/nano USB WiFi Adapters.  The biggest one was about 1/2" protrusion from the USB port and the other two can barely be seen.  They work perfectly, and one of those is in use right now on a desktop in my basement that's halfway across the house from the modem-router which is one floor up.  Unless you have had issues with a weak signal and variability with your built-in WiFi adapter I do not suggest going for one with an external antenna.


Brian AKA Bri the Tech Guy (website in my user profile) - Windows 10 Home, 64-Bit, Version 1803, Build 17134 

 

     In a modern society where everyone thinks their opinion deserves to be heard nothing annoys me more than individuals who mistake their personal preferences for fact.

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#3 LobsterRed

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Posted 06 October 2017 - 03:30 PM

To britechguy

 

Your response was amazingly informative and helpful, and illustrates the difference between someone who really knows what he's talking about (You!) and someone who has the barest smattering of knowledge (guess who!).

 

I immediately went to the Control Panel, Device Manager, Network Adapters, but I wasn't sure which, if any, of the four devices listed applied to Wifi.  I right-clicked on each of them though, and in every case there was no option to Enable, only to Disable, so I inferred that all four were still enabled.  The four are Bluetooth Device (Personal Area Network),

Bluetooth Device (RFCOMM Protocol TDI), 

Intel ® Centrino ® Wireless-N 2200

Realtek PCle FE Family Controller

 

Regarding my use of the term External Antenna-- I actually was just referring to anything that you'd insert into a USB port.  I'm glad to know that apparently these tiny objects, USB Wifi Adapters are now available and do the trick.  Will any of them that I find in a store or online be suitable for transmitting at a rate of 60 Mbps or must I look for certain terms like "high speed"?  I see that USB wifi adapters range from $10 to about $20-- is it preferable to purchase the more expensive one?



#4 britechguy

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Posted 06 October 2017 - 03:45 PM

Just FYI, the adapter on your system would be the one that's the Centrino Wireless N.   If it's not explicitly labeled "WiFi" (mine is) then it will usually include the word "wireless" somewhere.

 

Before you buy another one, have you checked to see if there is a new driver for this device on the support webpage of your computer manufacturer for the specific model you own?   Sometimes these issues can be driver related.

 

Wireless USB dongles are a commodity, and a disposable one at that.  I have never found any difference within specific speed classes (e.g., Wireless G, Wireless N, Wireless AC) based on price within class.  Of course G, N, and AC standards themselves are "eh," "fast," "much faster." respectively.  What you should be looking for if you do buy a USB wireless adapter is one that matches the class of router that you have or the class of the best router to which you routinely have access, as your minimum requirement.   Since Wireless AC dongles are really not all that much more expensive these days than Wireless N I'd lean toward AC, which is backward compatible with N.  Definitely don't get anything that's not Wireless N-150 at the bare minimum.


Brian AKA Bri the Tech Guy (website in my user profile) - Windows 10 Home, 64-Bit, Version 1803, Build 17134 

 

     In a modern society where everyone thinks their opinion deserves to be heard nothing annoys me more than individuals who mistake their personal preferences for fact.

         ~ Commenter TheCruyffGurn on the The Guardian website, 8/13/2014

 

              

 


#5 LobsterRed

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Posted 06 October 2017 - 04:41 PM

britechguy, I hope you'll still talk to me when I confess that I have no idea what class of router I have-- the router was provided by Verizon when they installed my FiOS.  So if I purchase a USB wireless adapter N-300 or one in the AC category, what exactly do I need to know about my router?



#6 britechguy

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Posted 06 October 2017 - 05:03 PM

Well, if you look at the model number on your router (which certainly has to be on a label, usually on the bottom) and look it up on the internet one of the first things that will generally be mentioned is what wireless protocol it uses.

 

What you are trying to do is to pair the wireless adapter you buy (or have) with the capabilities of the router(s) it might be connecting to on a regular basis.

 

If you want to eliminate any guesswork I'd go for an wireless AC adapter but even then there are (as there were for wireless N) differing speeds based on a number of factors (which, if you wish to see them, can be found on this wikipedia page on the IEEE 802.11 standard).


Brian AKA Bri the Tech Guy (website in my user profile) - Windows 10 Home, 64-Bit, Version 1803, Build 17134 

 

     In a modern society where everyone thinks their opinion deserves to be heard nothing annoys me more than individuals who mistake their personal preferences for fact.

         ~ Commenter TheCruyffGurn on the The Guardian website, 8/13/2014

 

              

 


#7 britechguy

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Posted 07 October 2017 - 09:40 AM

Just as an FYI, last night I decided to do a little research (as I often do) when these sorts of questions come up.  My favorite first place to look is WalMart.com since almost everyone has a WalMart near them and their prices on this sort of technology is virtually always rock bottom (though not always, so do a little shopping around).  The number of Wireless AC USB dongles from those having dual external antennae through nano sized is mind boggling on just that site.  Since they also now have affiliates marketing through them you will often find the same item priced more competitively depending on which one you pick (but then you get into issues of whether it's cheaper with shipping if you can't have it shipped free either to your home or local store).

 

Wireless AC USB MINI adapters at WalMart.com on 10/7/2017:

High Quality 2.4GHz 5GHz Wireless Wifi Adapter Computer Network Card AC600Mbps USB WiFi Aerial Dual Band Mini PC WiFi Adapter $9.99

 

600Mbps Mini Wireless Dual Band 2.4/5GHz USB Wifi Adapter LAN Antenna Network Adapter 802.11ac/a/b/g/n  $9.99

 

600Mbps Dual Band Wireless Network Card Computer Mini USB WiFi Adapter  $11.09

 

600Mbps Mini Dual Band 2.4/5 GHz Wireless USB WiFi Adapter LAN Network Dongle 802.11ac/a/b/g/n for Laptop Desktop PC Windows XP/7/8/10,Mac OS X System  $10.99

 

CF-915AC Dual Band 600Mbps Wireless USB WiFi Network Adapter LAN Card 5.8G MG  $14.99

 

Nano:

 

StarTech USB Wi-Fi Adapter - AC600 - Dual-Band Nano Wireless Adapter $24.80


Brian AKA Bri the Tech Guy (website in my user profile) - Windows 10 Home, 64-Bit, Version 1803, Build 17134 

 

     In a modern society where everyone thinks their opinion deserves to be heard nothing annoys me more than individuals who mistake their personal preferences for fact.

         ~ Commenter TheCruyffGurn on the The Guardian website, 8/13/2014

 

              

 


#8 LobsterRed

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Posted 07 October 2017 - 12:34 PM

Hi britechguy,

 

First of all, of course, a resounding "Thank you!" for your research-- I just wish New York City hadn't effectively excluded WalMart from its environs!  (Believe it or not, there isn't a single WalMart in the entire city of New York!)

 

But I imagine that stores like Best Buy and Staples will have similar prices, if not quite as low.  But I wanted to ask you about the difference between the 'mini' and the 'nano'-- I see the nano is more than twice the price of the mni.  Is it superior in some way?

 

And I have a pressing question to ask you about the issue of drivers that you raised yesterday.  I went to the Lenovo web site, downloaded the Lenovo Bridge, which is something apparently that facilitates the process of updating, but then when I ran the Lenovo scan of my computer to check it in its entirety to see what could be updated, the scan failed.  I ran it again, but again it failed.

 

But let's assume for the moment that there is no driver update for the wireless capability, britechguy.  I was wondering if it's still possible for the driver currently on my computer to simply have failed, so that if I just replaced the current possibly defective driver by installing a new one that is an exact replica of it but definitely not defective, would I perhaps restore my Wifi to normal?



#9 britechguy

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Posted 07 October 2017 - 12:43 PM

The only difference between micro and nano is that micro has a body that sticks out of the USB port by approximately 1/2 inch while nano is 1/4" or slightly less.

 

If you've ever used one of the newer wireless mouse or mouse keyboard combinations that has a USB dongle that you can barely see at all once it's plugged in that is the same size as nano is.

 

Nano can be much handier if one is dealing with a laptop and never wants to remove the adapter.  It's amazing how much that extra 1/4" inch that is added for micro can sometimes manage to get hit or caught unintentionally.  That being said, I have used both without issue because I'm conscious of anything I leave "sticking out" of the body of the computer when I'm carrying it.

 

I cannot answer your question with regard to drivers as asked.  I would simply suggest you go back to the support page for your make/model and look under the downloads and drivers section under networking and download whatever the latest device driver is that's there and install it.  You needn't do a full system scan with the Lenovo system maintenance tool.  Just focus on where you're having trouble at the moment.


Brian AKA Bri the Tech Guy (website in my user profile) - Windows 10 Home, 64-Bit, Version 1803, Build 17134 

 

     In a modern society where everyone thinks their opinion deserves to be heard nothing annoys me more than individuals who mistake their personal preferences for fact.

         ~ Commenter TheCruyffGurn on the The Guardian website, 8/13/2014

 

              

 


#10 LobsterRed

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Posted 07 October 2017 - 09:59 PM

Hi britechguy!

 

Well, I've done it, Brian, I got the Netgear AC1200 WiFi USB Adapter and then I had every possible thing go wrong during the attempt at installation, so much so that for a while Netgear Tech Support was even stymied!

 

I'll give you a very brief synopsis of what happened-- just because it may amuse you to see the number and variety of things that can go awry during what should be a simple and straightforward installation process!   And then, if you don't mind,  I have several very important questions for you that Randy, the Netgear tech support fellow (new to his job,  I gather), was clearly unsure of the answers to.  But you, as an experienced user of wireless adapters may well be able to handle them much more readily.

 

So, no sooner did I insert the Netgear Resource CD into my optical drive (which I very rarely have used on this computer) than things went off the prescribed path!,  My optical drive didn't automatically start when I closed the drawer- only several minutes later, when I opened the Charms Bar, did I hear the optical drive suddenly whir into action.  But even then, the Display Page of the Resource CD didn't open, so I had to click on Autorun.exe.  Then, at the very earliest stage of the Setup--where I clicked on check for Updates, and they said it would take up to 30 seconds--   the entire installation process came to a complete halt.  Instead of completing the Update process, and then going on to the next step, nothing further happened whatsoever.  I could hear the optical drive stop whirring-- which I took as an ominous sign.  Eventually-- after waiting through about 10 minutes of absolute deadness-- not knowing what else to do, I clicked 'Quit' on the Setup page.  So, that phase of the installation process not only resulted in no installation of the Netgear adapter, but the bonus of having the Netgear Resource CD get stuck in my optical drive, where it remains at this moment!!!!!  Not surprisingly, given all these untoward events, I see no icon anywhere on my computer indicating that my computer recognizes that there's a CD in the optical drive!!

 

Reaching that dead end, I felt compelled to go through the elaborate process Netgear requires to make sure they only give telephone Tech support to customers who deserve to have it.  

 

Finally getting to Tech Support, I spent at least an hour on the phone with the newly-on-the-job tech support fellow, Randy, who took me on many wrong turns that forced him to retrace his steps (in fact, he was so discombobulated at one point that he had me abandon the Chrome browser and start all over again, right from the beginning, in Firefox!), but eventually we successfully installed the Windows Standalone Driver, and got the Adapter accepted into my wireless network via the WPS button.

 

But, here are my questions, britechguy: At first, Randy, the Netgear Tech Support fellow, said that if I ever removed the Netgear adapter from my computer I would have to repeat the WPS procedure to get it accepted on my wireless network again.  When I pointed out that I turned off my computer at the end of every day, and turned it on the next, and if I removed the adapter while it was off and re-inserted it before I turned the computer on again, the computer wouldn't know that I'd ever removed the adapter.  When I pointed that out, Randy amended his statement about not removing the adapter to say that I couldn't remove it while the computer was on without having to go through the WPS process again, and if I turned on the computer without the adapter already inserted, I would also have to go through the WPS process.  But I questioned even that, because my computer's internal wireless system (when it was still working!) just had to be connected once, and thereafter it connected automatically.  And I could turn the WiFi on an off without having to use WPS to reconnect with the system.   But I'm really unsure about all this, there could be differences between the way my computer handles its own internal wifi system and how it deals with the Netgear adapter-- so I ask you britechguy, am I free to plug and unplug the Netgear adapter in the USB port as I please, whether the computer is on or off, and have it be automatically recognized and connected to the Wifi, or will I, under certain circumstances, have to use the WPS buttons on both the Netgear adapter and my router in order to reconnect?

 

Of course, I still have to deal with the CD stuck in my optical drive, but that's for another day!



#11 LobsterRed

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 11:38 AM

Update: Although I preferred knowing in advance what would happen if I removed the Netgear wireless adapter from my computer under all manner of circumstances (so I could avoid having to renew the adapter's acquaintance with my wireless network using WPS just in case some of the removals broke the connection and led to the Netgear adapter's not being recognized), this morning I was in a more devil-may-care mood and decided to experiment.  What I learned is interesting: the Netgear tech support guy was 100% wrong!  No matter when I removed and reinserted the Netgear adapter, it immediately was recognized and resumed its transmission of the wireless signal from my router!   Now the only mystery is how the Netgear techie could have been so mistaken about a basic attribute of his own company's product!



#12 JohnC_21

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 12:08 PM

I would avoid using a WPS pin and disable it in the router settings. You would need to set a new WPA password on your router and change the password on your Wifi adapter accordingly but I would wait for Brian to chime in on this before doing anything. He may have different thoughts.

 

A major security flaw was revealed in December 2011 that affects wireless routers with the WPS PIN feature, which most recent models have enabled by default. The flaw allows a remote attacker to recover the WPS PIN in a few hours with a brute-force attack and, with the WPS PIN, the network's WPA/WPA2 pre-shared key.[2] Users have been urged to turn off the WPS PIN feature,[3] although this may not be possible on some router models.[4]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wi-Fi_Protected_Setup

 

https://www.howtogeek.com/176124/wi-fi-protected-setup-wps-is-insecure-heres-why-you-should-disable-it/



#13 LobsterRed

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 01:02 PM

Interesting comment, JohnC_21, but has nothing been done to fix the flaw in the six years since it was discovered?  That's not like the tech community!!  And what about the 2 minute limit that you now have between the time you press the WPS button on the device you're introducing into the network and the time you press the WPS button on the router?  Isn't that time limit designed precisely to prevent a brute-force attack that will take hours to accomplish its objective?

 

And I don't quite grasp what the hacker will achieve, even if successful in obtaining the PIN-- okay, if this evil genius of a hacker lives next door to me (not bloody likely, given my neighbors!) he'll be able to get onto my network using the PIN.  But if he's so smart, can't he afford a network of his own?  And anyway, my neighbor's being able to use my Wifi by virtue of his being on my network isn't in any sense connected with his being able to access my computer merely by being on my network!  Am I mistaken about that?



#14 JohnC_21

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 01:08 PM

Yeah, I understand your questions. I can't give you a good answer on that. It's just my preference to not use WPS. I think Brian will have a better response to this. I am not sure this vulnerability has ever been fixed.



#15 LobsterRed

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 01:25 PM

Now that my experiments have shown that the wireless device is still recognized by my computer as part of my network no matter how often or under what circumstances I temporarily remove the device from my computer-- therefore, one and only one introduction using the password is necessary-- I guess it doesn't really matter how that one introduction is accomplished: yes, using the WPS to do it is still easier than typing in a long password, but since either act need only be done once, I suppose it just comes down to the question 'How lazy am I after all?'  The answer: pretty lazy, unfortunately!






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