Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I've just installed a wireless USB dongle and I have an odd problem, the dongle is only detecting networks broadcasting on channel 1. Luckily, my router just happens to be on channel 1 at the moment, however if that changes my computer simply won't see it!

I've tried 4 different wireless devices now, 2 Ralink PCI wireless receivers, 1 Ralink USB receiver and now a sitecom USB receiver. All of the receivers I've tried have wireless b/g/n support. All of them have had the same problem.

I have a wireless g router.

What could be causing this, and how can I go about fixing it?

Additional details as people have asked for in the comments. Router is on b/g "mixed mode", laptop is on windows 7 professional 32 bit, PC is windows 7 professional 64 bit. The laptop is right next to the PC and can pick up 20 networks (including my own), the PCcan only detect two networks, both on channel 1. Signal strength to my own network from the PC is very good.

share|improve this question
Just to clarify: you have tried 4 different receivers with the same issue. Are you only trying the one router? Have you tried multiple routers or access points? – JNK Jul 26 '10 at 13:07
I have only tried one router. However the area around my house (according to my laptop) has about 20 networks, my PC with the receiver(s) can only see 2, both on channel 1 – Martin Jul 26 '10 at 13:19
How is the WIFI router set up? G only, or B/G? Change the router channel and if possible move your PC so that is a few feet away. What OS on PC and LapTop? Re-install Wireless Zero? – dbasnett Jul 26 '10 at 13:30

If you are having this problem on every wireless device, there are only a few things I can think of:

  • The router is having problems - get another router.

  • There is too much interference - Nothing you can do about this.

You said that your laptop (if that is a different machine) can detect 20 networks - this is a large amount, and I think that interference is the most likely cause of your problem.

If you can, to verify (or dismiss) my thought above, can you temporarily move the router next to the computer - it doesn't matter if you can't connect to the internet - it is just important to see if you can see the connection on other channels.

If you can't then it could be a problem with something else on the computer (which I can't really think what would cause it other than corrupt drivers... even though you have tried multiples).

If you can see, it is obviously interference. Even though you can select a lot of channels, they overlap and 20 networks in the area is a lot - Here is a picture for guidance:

alt text

I hope this helps, but this is a very tricky one and without being there and seeing the situation / performing a survey, it is really hard to help.

share|improve this answer
Unfortunately I can't easily move the router. However, I doubt interference is the proble. If I do manage to connect I get good signal strength, and my PC cannot even see those other networks which are on different channels, which it should be able to do no matter how much interference there is. – Martin Jul 29 '10 at 1:03
Unless it's not other networks but is actually other DEVICES interfering. – JNK Aug 3 '10 at 14:14
The same problem occurs if I have only one computer on in the house, or all of them on. – Martin Aug 4 '10 at 0:18

There can only be three players in the wireless receiving game: Router, receiver and PC software.

As the other computers at your place work correctly, this can't be the router.
As you have tried other wireless receivers on the PC, this can't be the receiver.

So only the software on the PC is left.
I have no idea why it's stuck on channel 1 and refusing to see other channels.
But some of your other wireless receivers have maybe come with a wireless client of their own.
So install one (or more) of these clients, and use them as replacement to the Windows wireless client.

I have also had cases where the manufacturer's software for the wireless receiver have worked much better than the Windows built-in wireless client.

share|improve this answer
I installed all the drivers and utilities that came with each of the cards I tested. So if any of them had a custom client, I was using it. – Martin Aug 1 '10 at 21:03
@Martin: Not if you were still using the Windows client. When another wireless client is installed, you can use it only if you invoke it directly. Clicking on the Windows icon will get you the Windows client. – harrymc Aug 2 '10 at 5:59
Oh, how do I use the other client then? – Martin Aug 2 '10 at 11:58
@Martin: If you have installed it, it should be somewhere on the desktop or in Start / Programs. – harrymc Aug 2 '10 at 12:33
@Martin: I would also suggest doing "sfc /scannow". More info :… – harrymc Aug 4 '10 at 10:33

Are the drivers for your wireless devices(s) certified as Win 7 64 bit compatible?

You might try netstumbler. If it's compatible with your wireless card you can see what networks it finds on what channels.

share|improve this answer
It says win7 on the side of the box (no mention of 64bit) and they're not listed as incompatible on the microsoft website for a 64 bit OS – Martin Aug 5 '10 at 7:52
Did you try installing netstumbler? – Chris Aug 8 '10 at 15:04
@Martin: You can use inSDDer instead. – paradroid May 18 '11 at 21:28
NetStumbler does not work with Vista onwards. – paradroid May 18 '11 at 21:28

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .