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HP Notebook PCs - Solve Setup and Internet Connection Issues on a Wireless Network with XP

This document pertains to HP Notebook PCs with Windows XP.

If the computer is not using the XP operating system, see

Read this document if you are having trouble setting up a connection to a home wireless network or public Wi-Fi network. This document assumes that you have configured all the required wireless components, and that you have successfully connected to your home wireless network before. However, there now is a problem connecting a computer to the wireless network.

Identify the specific wireless network connection problem

If you suddenly have a problem with your network connection, before you make any changes, you must determine whether you have a problem with (1) the wireless device on the computer, (2) the connection between the computer and the network, or (3) the connection from the ISP provider to the network. Each of these devices / connections must be operating independently before they can all work together.

  1. View the wireless icons in the system tray to determine the status of the devices and connections. Then, open the appropriate utilities for detailed information on potential problems. The detailed windows are: the Windows Wireless Network Connection, the HP Wireless Assistant, and the Device Manager.

  2. When you have the detailed information, identify the specific type of connection problem by reading the connection description statements below. Then select the statement that most closely describes your problem for a detailed explanation of the corrective actions.

    NOTE: After you perform the recommended corrective actions, test the connection. If the problem persists, continue to next recommended action.

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View status icons and problem detail windows

Quite often, people spend an excessive amount of time and energy trying to fix their network because they are trying to solve the wrong problem. For instance, one of the top causes of a lost connection is that the power button was accidentally turned off.

NOTE: If the status icons are not visible in the network tray, see How to Display Network Icons at the end of this document.
Relationship of Network Icons and Problem Detail Windows
Network OK
Connection Issue
How To View Detail Windows
Detail Windows
For details, right-click the icon and select View Available Wireless Networks.
Windows XP Wireless Network Connection
For details, right-click the icon and select Open HP Wireless Assistant.
HP Wireless Assistant
For details, right-click the icon and select Open Wireless Zero Configuration.
Wireless Zero Configuration
Problems are usually highlighted with either a yellow bang exclamation point or a red "X" in the detail windows. Leave these windows open and notice that the displays refresh as changes are made or problems are corrected.

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Identify problem description and corrective action

Once you know something about the problem, review the following list of conditions, and click on a statement for the corrective actions. The actions are listed in the sequence they should be performed.

No Network Setup
Connection Conditions
Corrective Actions
No network icons
You have not set up your home wireless network; or, you tried setting it up, but the computer has never been able to connect to the specific network.
This document does not provide the information that you need.
Click Start, Help and Support, and then Networking and the Web for detailed information. ( Download latest XP version of Help and Support. )
Or, click Start, Control Panel, and then Wireless Network Setup Wizard to set up a new network.
Or, click Start, Control Panel, and then Network Connections to create a new connection to an existing network.
Wireless Driver Not Working
Connection Conditions
Corrective Actions
or , or
The computer has been connected to your home wireless network in the past, and it did have access to the internet, but suddenly it cannot connect to the home wireless network.
Verify the wireless network power switch is on and the blue indicator light is lit.
No Internet Connection
Connection Conditions
Corrective Actions
All of these conditions exist: Device on and enabled , and , and connected to one or more networks.
The computer has been connected to your home wireless network in the past, and it did have access to the internet, but suddenly it cannot connect to the internet, even though it can connect to your home wireless network.
Before you begin troubleshooting the internet connection, Verify that the computer is connected to the desired network . Confirm that is a good connection to the network, as discussed above.

Not all HP notebook PCs are configured with an integrated wireless networking device. If wireless networking is not listed in the feature list on the side of the PC package, you can purchase a wireless networking ExpressCard adapter to add wireless networking capability to your notebook PC.

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Detailed instructions on how to troubleshoot a wireless connection problem

The following sections of this document provide detailed explanations of the troubleshooting process and corrective actions. Perform these actions in the sequence listed in the chart shown above.

Verify the wireless network device power switch is on

Most HP notebook PCs have a switch or button on the case that sends power to the Bluetooth and wireless network devices.

The wireless button or switch is usually located in one of three places:

  • on top of the keyboard

  • on the side of the computer

  • on the front of the computer

An indicator light glows blue when the Bluetooth or WiFi communication devices are turned on. If the computer has both Bluetooth and WiFi and one of them is turned off or the device is disabled, the light glows amber. The indicator light does not glow at all when power to the device is turned off. The HP Wireless Assistant software must be used to enable or disable the individual wireless functions.

Manage PCMCIA or USB wireless network adapter

Internal wireless networking adapters or PCMCIA cards may have problems connecting to a wireless network if the Advanced options are not set properly. For instance, some PCMCIA devices can adjust the power output to increase the strength of the wireless signal.

NOTE: If the computer and router are in the same physical area, you may want to reduce the signal strength to save battery. However, if they are not located near to each other, you can turn the power up to 100% to maximize the signal.

Most HP internal wireless cards can be set to turn off to save battery power. If the wireless connection was working but suddenly stopped when using the battery, the card may be turning itself off exactly as planned. You can use the Device Manager to specify the power settings and keep the wireless card turned on.

To verify and change the wireless device settings in the Device Manager, do the following actions.

  1. Click Start, Control Panel, System, Hardware, and then Device Manager.

  2. Click the plus sign (+) next to Network Adapters. If multiple devices are listed, you should check the devices one at a time.

  3. Right-click on the network adapter, and select Properties.

    Select the Power Management tab, if available, and verify the power settings. Not all wireless device drivers have a Power Management option.

When you have set the Power Management options, close the Device Manager, restart the computer, and attempt to reconnect to the wireless network.

Verify status of the wireless network devices using HP Wireless Assistant

The wireless devices can be turned on and off using the HP Wireless Assistant. This tool is designed to control the Wireless LAN and Bluetooth devices individually. The wireless LAN device can be turned on while the Bluetooth is turned off, or vice versa.

The action of the HP Wireless Assistant control is independent of the wireless device power switch. It is possible for the wireless device LED to glow blue because power is being sent to the device, although the device is turned off. By default, the HP Wireless Assistant is configured to display a wireless connection on icon , or wireless connection off icon in the Windows system tray. However, the icons can be set to not display.

HP recommends that the HP Wireless Assistant be configured to display the icons as follows.

  1. Click Start, Control Panel, and then select HP Wireless Assistant.

    If HP Wireless Assistant is not installed, ignore the rest of this section.

  2. Verify the status of the installed wireless devices. They should all be on.

  3. Click Properties to open the Settings window.

  4. Select the Show Wireless Assistant icon in the notification area option, and then click Apply. The icon displays in the system tray area.

  • You can now monitor the network at a glance by checking the Wireless power LED , the HP Wireless Assistant icon , and the Wireless Network Connection icon .

Resolve conflicts with wireless device controls

On some models, the wireless network device driver with a Wireless Zero Configuration icon may be in direct conflict with the HP Wireless Assistant. For instance, one driver may be turned on while the other is turned off. Both the Wireless Zero Configuration and HP Wireless assistant must be set to the on position.

Be sure to verify that the physical power switch for the wireless device is also turned on.

Complication with some older BIOS designs. Some older computers have an option to turn off or disable wireless devices in the BIOS. If your system has this option, and it was set to disable, the computer would never have been connected to a wireless network.

Verify the wireless network connection is enabled

Once you have verified that there is power available to the wireless device, there are two ways to verify that the device is enabled:

  • Control Panel

  • Device Manager

Verify the wireless network connection is enabled using the Control Panel

The connection to a wired or wireless network can be disabled or enabled in the Control Panel. To verify the status, do the following:

  1. If the Network Connection icon is visible in the system tray, right-click the icon and select Open Network Connections.

    On some systems, the icon may disappear when there is an error condition. In this case, click Start, then select Control Panel, and then double-click Network Connections.

  2. Select Diagnose and repair.

    If this fails to repair the connection, then complete the following steps.

  3. Select Manage network connections.

  4. Verify the status of the wireless network.

    Figure 1: Network connections status

    Image of the network connection screen showing the status.
  5. To enable the network, right-click the connection, and select enable. It may take a few seconds for the connection to enable.

Verify the wireless network connection is enabled using the Device Manager

The connection to a wired or wireless network can be disabled or enabled in the Device Manager. To verify the status, do the following:

  1. Click Start, select Control Panel, and then select System.

  2. In the System Properties window, select Hardware, then select Device Manager, and then click the plus sign (+) beside the Network adapters device.

    Figure 2: Network adapters

    Image of the network adapters in the Device Manager.
  3. Right-click any device driver that indicates a problem to re-enable it. The wireless device should enable and the wireless connection icon should display properly. If the device indicates additional problems, see the Install updated WLAN drivers and BIOS section.

Verify the computer is connected to the desired network

When the computer detects a wireless network, if it has ever been connected to the network, it will attempt to re-establish the connection. The connection may not be to the network you want. You can specify what sequence the computer should use when multiple wireless networks are detected. Periodically, you may want to manually remove old or unused networks from the list of connections.

To determine what network it is connected to, and to select the network you want, do the following:

  1. Right-click the Wireless Network Connection icon in the System tray and select View Available Wireless Networks to view available wireless networks.

    Figure 3: Wireless network

    Image of the wireless connections available on this computer.
    • If it is connected to the wrong network, select Disconnect.

    • If the desired network is listed, select the network and click Connect.

  2. To delete, change, or add a network connection, click Change advanced settings. When the Wireless Network Connections window opens, select the Wireless Network tab to display the name of the preferred networks to which the computer has been connected in the past.

    Figure 4: Wireless Networks tab

    Image of the Wireless Networks tab.
  3. To remove a network so that it does not automatically connect, select the network, and then click Remove. The network can be added again later, if desired.

  4. To verify or change the security information needed to connect to a network, or to add a new network, click Properties to open the Association tab of the Properties window.

    Figure 5: Properties

    Image of the Wireless Networks Properties page.
  5. Enter the required information for the desired network. If connecting to a business network, be sure to use the current Network key (password), and Key index.

Verify the encryption settings

The most common cause of wireless network problems is incorrect configuration of the encryption settings. Wireless encryption (WEP) varies in complexity and security, depending on the type of wireless network to which you are connecting. In general, follow the steps below to resolve encryption problems.

  1. Verify that the wireless network connection is enabled.

    1. Right-click the Wireless Network Connection icon in the system tray, and then Open Network Connections.

    2. Right-click Wireless Network Connection, and then Enable.

  2. Verify that the computer can "see" the name or SSID of the wireless network to which you are connecting.

    1. Right-click the Wireless Network Connection icon in the system tray.

      Figure 6: Wireless Connection icon

      Image of Wireless Connection icon.
    2. Select View Available Wireless Networks.

    3. The name of the network to which you are connecting should be listed under Available wireless networks. If the name is not listed, refer to the Router troubleshooting section of the HP Notebook PCs - Troubleshoot a Lost Internet Connection on a Wireless Network with XP support document.

  3. Confirm that the network key and the key index configured in the computer matches the network key or key index that the wireless router or access point requires.

    1. Right-click the Wireless Network Connection icon in the system tray, and then select Open Network Connections.

    2. Right-click Wireless Network Connection, and then select Properties.

    3. Select the Wireless Networks tab.

    4. In the Available networks list, select the name of the network to which you are connecting, and then click Configure.

      Figure 7: Available networks list

      Image of the available networks list.
    5. Enter the correct wireless encryption data by typing the network key into the Network key: and Confirm network key: text boxes. Then, select the correct number in the Key index (advanced) box.

      Figure 8: Encryption settings

      Image of the encryption settings page.

      Contact your network administrator or refer to your wireless router software for the required network key and key index. Most wireless router settings are accessible by typing the following URL into the address bar of a web browser.

      http://192.168.1.1

Minimize interference and move the computer closer to the router

A wireless network router has a limited broadcast range. The further the computer is from the router, the weaker the broadcast signal. Solid objects, such as walls, metal furniture, and electrical appliances may interfere with the signal and decrease the usable range.

For testing purposes, move the computer closer to the router and minimize interference from electrical devices. If testing the connection with the computer near to the router proves that the wireless connection is working, you can move the computer to determine the range of the connection. To extend the usable range of the wireless network router, consider purchasing a different antenna from the router manufacturer, or use a signal repeater.

If the test fails with the computer and the router in the same room, it may be necessary to force the device to re-establish all connection values. See Disconnect from the network and manually re-connect to the network .

Run the XP diagnostic tool

XP monitors the network and internet connections. If it detects a problem, Windows XP displays an error message, and prompts you to diagnose the problem.

Figure 9: Network or connection error message

Image of a network or connection error message.

Open a browser, select Tools, then click Diagnose Connection Problems... to allow XP to diagnose the problems and restore the connection.

Figure 10: Network diagnostics

Image of the Diagnose Connection Problems... screen.

The XP diagnostic tool has limited functionality, but can provide reminders about connecting to a domain in a business environment, or a work group on a home network.

Verify the AC adapter and wireless device power settings

If your wireless connection suddenly stops working when your notebook is operating on battery power, you may want to disable the following power saver options.

Power Plan options

First, notebooks use power settings to balance performance and battery life. If the power option is set to lower power setting to maximize battery life, it may reduce the brightness of the display or reduce power to the network adapter. You should set the Power Output settings to 100% (maximum performance) for both battery power and when plugged into the AC power adapter. Follow the steps below to verify the correct settings:

  1. Click Start, Control Panel, and then Power Options to open the Power Options Properties window.

  2. From the Power Schemes drop-down list, select the power plan with the most appropriate settings for your particular computer.

Close the Power Options Properties window, restart the notebook PC, and attempt to reconnect to the wireless network.

Wireless device options

Second, most wireless devices can be configured to turn off power to reduce the power drain on the battery. This is usually not a problem when the notebook is connected to an AC power adapter. However, when operating on battery power, the adapter can be turned off even when you are using the wireless connection.

Follow the steps below to verify the correct settings:

  1. Click Start, Control Panel, System, Hardware, and then Device Manager.

  2. Click the plus sign (+) next to Network Adapters, right-click on the wireless (WiFi) adapter in the list, and then select Properties.

  3. On the properties window for the adapter, select the Power Management tab, if available, and then de-select the Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power option. Not all wireless device drivers have a Power Management option.

When you have set the Power Management options, close the Device Manager, restart the notebook PC, and attempt to reconnect to the wireless network.

Reset the power to the network router and the ISP or DSL modem

When a computer establishes a connection with a router or with the internet, it uses several IP addresses to manage the communication. If the electrical power to the computer, or the router, or the internet service from the ISP is interrupted momentarily, the IP address may change and disrupt the connections. The indicator LEDs on the equipment may indicate that a connection exists, but all of the IP addresses may not agree. To re-establish the proper IP addresses, reset the power as follows:

  1. Turn off your modem.

  2. Unplug the power, Ethernet and phone line/cable from the modem.

  3. Turn off the router (if present in the network).

  4. Unplug the power, Ethernet and phone line/cable (if using a modem router) from the router.

  5. Shut down the PC.

  6. Wait for 30 seconds for the power to dissipate from the devices.

  7. Re-connect the Ethernet, phone line/cable and power to the modem.

  8. Turn on the modem and wait for the modem to complete the startup process.

  9. When all available LED lights are steady on the modem, connect the Ethernet, phone line/cable and power to the router.

  10. Wait till the router completes the startup and all available LED lights are steady.

  11. Turn on the PC and attempt to reconnect to the desired network.

Connect the computer directly to the network

By connecting the computer directly to the network router using an Ethernet cable, you determine if the connection problem is with the router settings or with the wireless signal. It is not necessary to turn off the computer's wireless network device during the testing to verify the router is set up with the correct name (SSID), security password, and network key.

  1. Move the computer closer to the router (if needed) and plug an Ethernet cable into the network port on the computer and one of the available ports on the router.

  2. Right-click the Network Connection icon in the system tray, and select Open Network Connections.

  3. The window displays the name of the network(s) and the types of connections.

  4. Select Manage network connections.

  5. Verify the status of the wired network.

  6. If the wired network, or the wireless network, is Disabled, right-click the connection, and select enable. It may take a few seconds for the connection to enable.

  7. Once you have verified the direct wired connection to the internet, turn on the power to the wireless device, disconnect the network cable from the computer, and manually set up a new connection to the wireless network.

Disconnect from the network and manually re-connect to the network

A common problem with a lost connection, or poor network connectivity, is that consumers accidently connect to the wrong network. It is also possible for a connection to appear to be correct, but not actually exist. For instance, a power interruption to a router or a modem, or even a momentary break in the signal from the ISP can change IP addresses. These types of problems can be resolved by disconnecting from the network router and manually re-establishing the connection, with the proper password and key index.

Before performing this method, verify that the wireless device is turned on and the network indicator light is glowing (blue).

Use the following steps to disconnect from a wireless network, and then search for and manually re-connect to the desired wireless network.

  1. Right-click the Network Connection icon or in the system tray, and select View Available Wireless Networks.

  2. If one or more wireless connections exist, click Disconnect. In a few moments, the wireless network will disappear from the display.

  3. In the Wireless Network Connection window, select Change advanced settings in the left pane.

    CAUTION: DO NOT select and re-connect to a network in the list of available networks. If the connection problem is caused by an incorrect password or key index, this option will repeat the connection with the wrong information.
  4. On the Wireless Network tab, select the name of the preferred network that had been connected in the past, and then click Properties.

  5. Enter the required wireless network information, and then click Next.

    • Network name (SSID) of the desired wireless network.

    • Network Authentication and Data encryption. These values must be the same as security values set in the wireless router

    • If connecting to a business network, be sure to use the current Network key (password), and Key index. Businesses may change these values on a regular schedule.

  6. If you want the computer to connect to the network automatically, on the Connection tab, select Connect when this network is in range.

    Figure 11: Wireless connections - connect automatically

    Image of wireless connections properties page.
  7. After a few moments, a message displays indicating that the computer is Successfully connected to the network.

  8. Click OK to save the new values, and then click OK to close the Wireless Network Connection window.

  9. Once the connection is made, place the mouse pointer over the network connected icon in the system tray to verify the Name, Speed, Strength, and Status of the connection. If the connection is weak or slow, see Minimize interference and move the computer closer to the router .

At this point, there should be a good connection between your notebook and the wireless router or access point. Depending on your setup, you should have access to other computers and applications on the network, or access to the internet. If no wireless connection icon displays, the software driver is either missing or corrupted. See Reinstall WLAN Driver for details on how to correct this problem.

Connect the computer directly to the modem

By connecting the computer directly to the ISP or DSL modem using an Ethernet cable, you will determine if a signal is being received from the Internet Service Provider. Open a browser and access any web site. If another computer is available, connect it directly to the modem to verify it can connect.

  • If neither computer can connect to the internet, contact your internet service provider for technical assistance.

  • If one computer can connect but the other cannot connect using a direct connection, the problem is specific to that computer. See Advanced network and internet connection issues and then contact HP for technical assistance.

Reset and reconfigure the router

If you have installed a new router, or made several changes to the router settings as you tried to resolve connection problems, you should reset the router to its factory condition and then run the manufacturer's set up program to configure the router. Use the following steps as a general guideline, but see the User Guide for the router for model-specific information.

  1. Enter the default IP addresses for the router into the URL address field on the browser.

    • 3Com: http://192.168.1.1

    • D-Link: http://192.168.0.1

    • Linksys: http://192.168.1.1

    • Netgear: http://192.168.0.1

    • Belkin: http://192.168.2.1

    These IP addresses are provided for informational purposes only.

  2. When the router's home page displays, you may have to enter a password to perform any configuration tasks. See the User Guide for the router for model-specific information.

    NOTE: Most manufacturers allow you to reset the router to a default factory condition, and then provide a wizard to guide you through the complete installation and configuration process. To reset the router, disconnect the AC power and press the reset button on the back of the router.
  3. When you have administrator access to the router, change the default name of the router, sometimes called an SSID, to the name that is distinguishable from other routers in your area.

  4. Set up wireless encryption (WEP) or Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA), to prevent other computers from connecting to your home network.

  5. Enter a network access password, sometimes called a passphrase. Be sure that you pick a password that is easy for you to remember, such as a phone number that you dial often or a phrase that is easy for you to remember.

  6. If the router is connected to the ISP or DSL modem, open the browser and verify that the internet is accessible from the computer.

Install updated WLAN Driver and BIOS

If no wireless connection icon displays within 15 to 30 seconds after enabling the wireless network, or if a Windows Device not Found error message displays, the software driver may be missing or corrupted. To resolve this problem, download and install the latest drivers and BIOS from the HP web site.

To get the updated wireless LAN adapter drivers and latest version of the BIOS for your notebook PC, go to the HP Drivers and Downloads page and search for updated drivers. You will need to know the exact model number or product number for your computer. Be sure to select the correct operating system.

If you cannot connect your computer to the internet, you can use another computer to connect to the internet and search for drivers. When downloading the files, use the Save option, do not use the Run option, to download the drivers to a memory stick, flash drive, a CD/DVD disc, or other portable media.

If the wireless adapter you are using was purchased separately, consult the manufacturer's web site for the latest software.

Disable network authentication

To resolve a Windows was unable to find a certificate to log you on to the network error message, do the following steps to disable the network authentication.

  1. Click Start, click Control Panel, and then select Network connections.

  2. Right-click the wireless network connection, and select Properties.

  3. On the Wireless Networks tab, select the desired network in the Preferred networks field, and click Properties.

  4. On the Authentication tab, de-select the Enable IEEE 802.1x authentication for this network option.

  5. Click OK to accept the settings, and click OK again to save the settings.

Restart the notebook and try connecting to the network.

Advanced network and internet connection issues

If the computer did connect to the wireless network at some time in the past, but now cannot connect to the wireless network router or the ISP or DSL modem, and you have performed all of the previous troubleshooting actions, perform the following actions, and if necessary, contact HP for technical assistance.

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Verify and update PC security

The computer may become inundated with spyware and viruses, which can be brought on by a lack of a firewall. See HP Notebook PCs - Improving the Performance of Your Notebook PC for more information on how to protect your computer from these threats.

Additionally, be sure that the firewall settings allow you to access the internet. Refer to the Help file for your firewall for more information about its settings.

Perform a Microsoft System Restore

If you are unable to resolve the issue of a wireless connection that worked previously, but now is unable to connect, performing a system restore may be the final option. Microsoft System Restore, if set up to do so, will create restore points automatically and periodically. Use an existing restore point to return your system to the condition it was in when the wireless connection worked. See HP Notebook PCs - Using Microsoft System Restore for more information.

How to Display Network Icons

If your network icons are not appearing in the system tray, you should perform the following:
  • To display the HP Wireless Assistant icon, click Start > HP Wireless Assistant > Properties and select HP Wireless Assistant Icon in notification area, as shown below.

    Figure 12: Wireless Assistant

    Image of the HP Wireless Assistant screen.
  • To display the Windows Network Connections, click Start > Control Panel and then select Network connections to display the Connection Manager. Right click on the desired connection and select Properties.

    Figure 13: Display network connections

    Image of the network connections on the computer.

    On the General tab, select the box for Show icon in notification area when connected and then click OK to accept the changes.

    Repeat the process for any other missing system icons.

    Figure 14: Show icon . . .

    Image of the wireless connections properties screen with "Show Icon . . . "  box checked.

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