Q

I'm constantly losing my wireless network connection - what can I do?

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My problem is a constant loss of wireless network connection on my laptop while sharing Internet connection. Connection is "excellent" then dropped. Worse if downloading files as opposed to casualy net surfing, but can happen any time.

My desktop is Win98SE with cable modem connected to a D-Link DI-604 router, with a D-Link DWL-900 AP+ access point connected to the router. The laptop is WinXP Pro with Intel PRO wireless PC adapter. Workgroups are the same, subnets are the same. Client for MS Network is enabled on both machines.

Also, I can access the desktop's files from the laptop, but cannot access the printer that is attached to the desktop. When setting up for network printer, I get a message stating that the printer is either not connected or in not available.

Can you help me with either of these problems? My frustration level is starting to wear on me.

Wireless association failures can be caused by radio interference or changes in distance or reception between your wireless card and AP. If this is happening, you will see a change in link status for the wireless card (status = wireless connection unavailable). You can try getting closer to the AP, avoiding any source of interference (like placing your hand or a solid object over the card), or reconfiguring the card and AP to use a different channel. You might also try disabling the Windows XP Zero Config service and configuring your Wi-Fi card properties manually instead of letting Windows manage your wireless settings. You can learn more about Microsoft Zero Config problems and Windows XP by searching Microsoft's knowledge base.

Another possibility is that your TCP connections are dropping, even though your wireless associations are fine. If this is happening, your link status will remain the same (for example, excellent) but your application session will fail (for example, a file transfer or web page download times out). This can occur when the maximum transmission unit (MTU) size is smaller on your Internet uplink (from cable modem) than on your WLAN (from Wi-Fi card), and MTU discovery isn't working right because of a problem in your operating system or router. Based on your description, I'm guessing this is not your problem, but your description of problem occurring only under load makes we wonder. If this symptom does sound familiar, search Microsoft's knowledge base for "MTU discovery" and follow suggestions given in articles posted there.

Regarding printer sharing, since you are sharing files with no problem, but not your printer, I'd guess a configuration error on the shared printer. First, open the Win98SE network control panel, hit the File and Print Sharing button, and make sure that both boxes are checked to share both files and printers. If so, check the Win98SE printer properties panel to make sure the printer is really shared. If you still haven't found the problem, it can sometimes help to remove and re-add the printer, making sure that drivers are installed and options are set to permit sharing from PCs running other operating systems. You might also try connecting the printer (temporarily) to your laptop and adding a local printer to get the right printer drivers installed on your laptop. Once that's working, reconnect the printer to your desktop and try printing to the network shared printer once again. Good luck!

This was first published in September 2003

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