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November 29, 2008

How To Troubleshoot Wireless Routers and Depression

I did not realize I had Wireless Router Depression Syndrome until I talked to TechBrother. My wireless access has been down for ONE MONTH and I was starting to lose hope, feel depressed. I have been using my USB Broadband card to access the internet during this time - but the rest of my family and my wireless printer were offline. Luckily I did have a cord to use at least for the printer as a stopgap measure.

Tech brother and my husband are my troubleshooting buddies, we can usually figure things out by sharing information.  But this time, my and husband and I were stumped at why our wireless router was not working.  TechHusband and I had the physical wire issues fixed and some other configuration - while TechBrother gave us extra configuration step. Aha........

Wireless Router fixed.. Suddenly my wireless router depression was gone.

Here are some shortcut steps for troubleshooting, each operating system and wireless router type will have different settings so my steps will be general. I also have a perspective from my from set-up, others will have different setups which will lead to different steps (i.e. using an Airport router).

For this discussion, the assumption is that internet access to the house comes through a physical wire. There are three main items, a PC, DSL modem or modem that connects to a phone line and a wireless router (like Linksys or Airport):

1. When installing wireless routers, make sure you save all the passwords, WEP passkey, MAC addresses and configuration details in a place that can be accessed for troubleshooting. If the information is only in an email, that may not work if your router is down! Best thing to do would be to print it out on a piece of paper with the router documents and put it in a safe place - that you will remember even if in a troubleshooting frenzy.

2. First test - is there a "physical wire" problem from your DSL or Internet Service Provider? For example purposes, for DSL modems the DSL light needs to be green (not RED). Also, for phone lines that are both a phone line and a DSL line, a line filter is recommended. If there is a physical wire problem - then you need to call your ISP (i.e. AT&T, Verizon etc).

Then try to access the internet through your browser again.

3. If your physical connection is working, all the lights are green but you still don't have wireless access, then unplug the power cords to the wireless router and the DSL modem for a few seconds. The ORDER to plug them back in is first the DSL modem and then the wireless router.

Then try to access the internet through your browser again.

4.  If you still can't access the internet, it can be a few other issues. This is the hardest step because you really need to "poke" around in various ways until you figure out the problem. The issue is usually logical (they are just machines..) - but sometimes not obvious.

One option is to check if your PC can talk to the Internet.  Start by accessing the wireless router admin tool by entering the default IP Address in a browser. You will need to review some of the settings in the router while troubleshooting. Also log onto your PC's Network Center and try to "diagnose" the problem for that specific connection.  Or go to your "program" section of your PC, then some type of accessory menu and access the command prompt. See if you can "ping" your router via the gateway address (that you can see through the router admin tool). 

In my case I FIRST had wire issues, SECOND I had to reset the Internet Connection type in my wireless router (yeah - who would of thought of that) and THIRD I set up a "new" wireless connection on my PC for my router to refresh. 

Please share your Wireless Router Troubleshooting tips, the more information - the better!

Related links:

About.com How to Build a Wireless Home Network

Linsys TroubleshootingHow to Troubleshoot in Windows XP

Airport Troubleshooting Guide


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Whenever I troubleshoot wifi routers, I always temporarily turn off WEP. Having it on just adds one more thing that can be messed up, so even if you fix the internet problems there could still be a WEP problem messing things up.

Once you get it working without WEP, turn it back on and then get it working again.

This is one of the geekiest -- and coolest -- blog posts I've read. Thanks for the help getting my WEP straightened out.

This was an interesting post, I will definitely keep this information in mind.
Let me know what you think of my blog!

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