In our world, we see a lot of common computer problems. In the battle of Mac vs PC, we thought it would be a good comparison to compile a list of problems and how troubleshooting them is different in a Mac vs a PC. This article contains information for how to troubleshoot a wireless connection on a PC and a Mac.
NO CONNECTION TO INTERNET (Wireless) – WINDOWS AND MAC INSTRUCTIONS
Wireless connections are very unreliable. So, everyone has problems with them… Often a wireless connection can be detected, but the computer will not connect to it. Beyond the obvious step of restarting the computer and router/airport, these are some of the things that I would try to resolve the problem and how they are different on a Mac or PC.
All Apple computers use the Airport wireless managment utility… On a PC this is more complicated than on a Mac… The first thing that you have to find out is how does your computer manage it’s wireless:
I would first try to identify the manner in which the wireless connection is managed. There are lots of different connection managers installed on machines out there – wireless zero configuration (WZC – comes on all Windows XP and Vista machines), Intel Proset, Belkin Wireless Network Configuration…
Because may different manufacturers make wireless products, they each have their own program to manage the connection.
FWIW: Attention PC Users – You do not need extra software to run your wireless adapter – all you really need from the install disk is the driver. I would recommend everyone to use the wireless management program that comes with windows (WZC) and to not install unnecessary software on your PC.
Now these are the basic steps to troubleshooting a wireless connection…
1. Check the wireless password on the computer:
The most common thing to be wrong is the wireless password. Sometimes, if the password is wrong you can still connect to the wireless internet – but the browser and email will not work at all.
The first thing that I look for is the method which the wireless management program “remembers” networks – they are usually kept in a list that the user can edit. In this list, you can see what networks it remembers and remove and re-add the network that you may be trying to connect to.
On Windows XP this can usually be found by going to Start > Control Panel > Network Connections. Right-click the wireless connection. Choose Show Wireless Networks then click Advanced settings on the left side. There should be a list called Preferred Networks. Double-click your connection in that list and re-enter the password, then click OK.
On OS X 10.4 (Apple), go to System Preferences > Network > Show: Airport (from the drop-down). Double-click your connection in that list, click the checkbox that says “Show Password” and re-enter the password. then click OK.
2. Check the wireless password on the router\airport:
Many times, the encryption password gets mixed up – often forgotten! So I check what the router says that the password should be (since the router defines the password for the entire network). It’s good practice to tape a piece of paper on the bottom of your router with your wireless password so you’ll always know what it is if you forget.
For most routers (including Linksys, D-Link, Netgear) – on your computer, open a web browser and type in the IP address of the router. (How to find the IP address of a router)… Enter the username and password for the router – if you have not changed it, it is commonly the same word for the username and password [ admin ]. Otherwise, you can identify your router model and use the default username and password from this list. If the default user/pass do not work, then hold the reset button with a pin for 15 seconds and the device will be reset to factory defaults. Now retry the username and password from this list.
(If you use a router made by 2Wire then you have to look on the bottom of your router for the “Wireless Encryption Key”).
Now look for the menu tab that says Wireless – click it – and then look for Wireless Security – click that. Your password should be stored in there – commonly it is called WEP and the data that you will need is listed under “Key 1” – This information is in the hexidecimal format (0-9, A-F). Whatever it is… WRITE IT DOWN.
If you have an Apple Airport, go to your Mac and plug an ethernet cable from your computer to the airport. Then go to your Applications > Utilities folder. Open the utility called Airport Admin Utility or the newer version Airport Utility. Double click your airport in that list and enter the username and password that you set on it. If you do not know your user/pass, then hold the reset button with a pin for 15 seconds and the device will be reset to factory defaults.
Now double click the name of your airport in the utility and go to the top menu where it says “Base Station” then choose “Equivalent Network Password” – WRITE THAT DOWN. Often non-Apple machines will require this password to be hooked up to your Airport wireless network. This is also true if you want to hook up a Nintendo Wii or other videogame system to your wireless network.
You can use the password that you get from your router/airport to configure the wireless connection on your computer using the steps under 1. above.