Troubleshoot XP wireless connections

How to get them working.

If you start upgrading users to Windows XP, you may find that their wireless cards no longer work. If this happens,

check to see the status of your network connection in the network connections dialog. If the icon for that connection is dimmed, you might have a configuration problem in software, or that you might need to reinstall your hardware.

There are, of course, the standard things to do. Start by checking the drivers for your card in the Windows Device Manager. You can open the Device Manager by right clicking on My Computer (it's always found on the Start menu, even if it isn't necessarily placed on the desktop (an option)), select Properties, then click on the Hardware tab. Click on the Device Manager button, scroll the list and find your wireless interface card. If there is a driver problem, try reinstalling the driver. If this doesn't solve the problem, use the Add/Remove Hardware wizard to uninstall your wireless card; then reinstall it. Hopefully Windows will recognize the card and automatically install a driver. But if not, you will need to have the correct drivers on hand, and you can usually get them from the vendor's Web site.

Many times reinstallation will solve your problem, but not always. To have a wireless network card work properly in XP you need to have the Wireless Zero Configuration service turned on, so check to make sure it's started. If it isn't, then to turn the service on, right click on My Computer and select Manage. In the list that appears in the MMC (Microsoft Management Console), expand the Services and Applications section in the left pane, click on Services, and find the Wireless Zero Configuration icon in the right hand pane. Double click on the icon, and then in the General tab set the Startup type to Automatic (automatically starts on startup), then click set the Start button to change the Service Status to Started.

After all this, the wireless card should be working.


Barrie Sosinsky is president of consulting company Sosinsky and Associates (Medfield MA). He has written extensively on a variety of computer topics. His company specializes in custom software (database and Web related), training and technical documentation.


This was first published in February 2003

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