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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
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:
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:
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:
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.
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
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
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:
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Windowserror 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 aerror message, do the following steps to disable the network authentication.
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.
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: