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HP Notebook PCs - Troubleshoot a Lost Internet Connection on a Wireless Network with Vista
This document pertains the HP Notebook PCs with Windows Vista.
If the computer is not using the Vista operating system, see:
Read this document if you have been using your computer to connect to the internet and receive e-mail, but suddenly the computer displays a browser error message:
This document covers how to troubleshoot the problem symptoms and follow the quick tips to re-establish a connection.
Decide if it is a network or internet issue
Your first action should be to determine if there is a problem with the connection between the computer and the network (router), or the connection between the network and the internet service provider (ISP).
To determine which connection is not working, look at the network icon in the system tray, and take the following actions.
Top reasons for lost connections
The top issues that cause a lost network or internet connection are:
Wireless device is turned off or disabled
The power to the wireless network and Bluetooth devices is controlled by a switch or button on most computers. It is possible to accidentally bump the button and turn off the wireless service.
On most computers, there is an LED light that glows blue when the wireless device is turned on and enabled, and glows orange when off or disabled. Some newer models use different a different color scheme, see the user guide for more information.
To turn on and enable the wireless device, do the following:
IP addresses are changed
The devices on the network handle communication based on IP addresses provided dynamically by the internet service provider.
A quick glance at the steadily glowing and blinking LED lights on a router and modem normally indicates that the service from the internet service provider (ISP) is working. However, if there is a brief power interruption to the ISP signal, the IP addresses will change but the lights may still show a connection.
As a first action, if there is a problem with the internet connection, you should turn off - and then turn on - the power to the router and the modem to reset the connection to the internet service provider (ISP).
To verify that the network connection is working, look at the network icon in the system tray.
Static IP used instead of Dynamic IP
When using a wizard program to set up a new network connection, it is possible to set a static IP address on the wireless device. The network connection works until there is an unexpected change in the signal from the internet service provider (ISP). Many business and public WIFI providers change addresses on a regular basis, which means the connection did work but it suddenly fails. It is best to configure the wireless device to accept a dynamic IP address that changes when the network is reset.
Security key is changed
When setting up a connection to a wireless network, the computer saves the security information including the password. The computer retains a list of all the networks it has been connected to - and the corresponding passwords or security keys - until you manually delete the network entry. While your home network security password probably does not change, most businesses and public WIFI networks change passwords on a regular basis.
When the computer is within range of the network it attempts to automatically connect using the old security codes, and the connection fails. If you click on the network from a list or manually try to connect the network, it will use the old codes.
To avoid this issue, you must delete the connection that has the wrong information and then establish a new wireless connection to the wireless network, do the following:
General network troubleshooting
If the network problem is not resolved after performing the actions to correct the IP address and security key issues listed above, perform the following general network troubleshooting actions.
Use Windows and HP troubleshooting diagnostic programs
Vista has several diagnostic tools that can repair network connection problems if the Windows and the HP programs are kept up-to-date. To check the network and internet connections, right-click the network icon in the System tray and select the Network and Sharing Center option.
Figure 2: Vista Network and Sharing Center Display
In this example, the graphic of the Windows Vista Network and Sharing Center shows a problem with the network connection, and no connection to the internet. Double-click any of the icons to view additional information and click the links for any automated tests and repair actions.
If you have multiple problems, connect the computer temporarily to the network with a network cable to run Microsoft Troubleshooters and Windows Update. You should also run the HP Support Assistant to perform diagnostic tests and install all available updated drivers and programs.
Install updated network drivers for better performance
If you have intermittent connection problems, install the latest updated wireless network device drivers.
NOTE: If you do not have a wireless network connection, you can connect the computer temporarily to the network router with a network cable. If you do not have a wired internet connection, use another computer to access the HP Software & Driver Downloads web site to find the drivers for the wireless device and the ethernet chipset. Download the drivers to an external drive and install them on the computer with the connection problem.
Check for wireless network adapter issues in Device Manager
If there is no network or internet connection, you can look at the network icons in the system tray. However, if there is no network icon in the system tray, or if the Network and Sharing Center does not list both a wired Ethernet connection and a wireless network connection, you should open the Device Manager to check for problems with the network drivers. You should select and update any existing network drivers before installing new drivers.
Improve signal strength and minimize interference by moving 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 proves that the wireless connection is working, you can rearrange the location and configuration of the computer and other electrical devices: