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In the last few days a very strange phenomena started occurring in my PC: I have a Windows 7 PC connected via a wireless network to a router.

Last week the wireless connection started to reset to Limited Connectivity (marked with a yellow exclamation mark on the task tray and the PC IP address assigned by the router reverts to 169.xxx.xxx.xxx domain).

The same router provides Internet connection to another PC running Windows XP, a laptop running Ubuntu and an Android smartphone, none of which has a similar problem.

I have tried to replace the router itself and the PC wireless card but the problem remains. Changing the router security protocol (WPA-> WPA2) or vice versa has some limited effect. After I reconnect to the wireless network and supplies the password (the same password) the Windows 7 PC stays connected for 24 hours after which the connection resets itself again and I have to swap the router's protocols again. Which suggest this is some software/configuration issue.

Intensive goggling did not result in any meaningful information or possible causes.

Ideas?

UPDATE:

Following Azz's lead in the comment I tried to the match the mysterious reset period of 24 hours with the DHCP lease expiration. It's a total match, so the DHCP lease expires and Windows is unable to get a new one. Why is that? Why would that happen only in Windows 7?
I am changing the question title to reflect the new information.

UPDATE #2 - problem solved see below

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It sounds like the DHCP lease is expiring, but the server can't be contacted for one reason or another. Is the computer normally asleep or such when it initially goes into "limited access" mode? –  Azz Oct 28 '10 at 8:17
    
the computer is a desktop. it never goes to sleep mode. when I scan for wireless network I can see my local network SSID and I can connect to it. but the connection stays limited (it gets no valid IP from the router) –  Jim Oct 28 '10 at 8:22

3 Answers 3

If the Windows 7 machine is new, then it may be the Broadcast option introduced in vista that is now supported on all routers.

See this Microsoft article

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setting the broadcast flage to 1 or to 0 did not fix this issue –  Jim Oct 30 '10 at 18:15

I have this issue a fair bit, 9 times out of 10 it's the Router that is at fault.

I usually power it down for 5 minutes (although most Support Desks recommend 30 minutes).

Once the Router is rebooted, the majority of the time it solves the issue.

The other times it's been a fault with ISP, be it a phone line or service outage.

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this happens with two differenc routers and all other deives are able to connect to the internet, so the router hardware or the ISP is less likely at fault here. –  Jim Oct 28 '10 at 8:27
    
It may be a driver issue with the Wireless Card. I've experienced an issue with my Toshiba Laptop which isn't Windows 7, it's Vista and I didn't update with Toshiba latest driver but looked it up from the Network Card's website itself, installed that and it worked better. –  BSDIT Oct 28 '10 at 15:57
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Jim, I found this link: social.answers.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/w7network/thread/… it may help with your connection issues. –  BSDIT Oct 29 '10 at 7:58
    
lots of suggestions in that thread will give some of them a try. thank you for pointing that out –  Jim Oct 29 '10 at 16:27
up vote 0 down vote accepted

I found the cause.

The problem was indeed with the DHCP lease, as it seems the firewall prevented communication with the DHCP server at 10.255.255.255 port 137, so the lease could not be renewed! My only guess is that this is somehow related to the new firewall software update (Comodo).

I disabled the firewall and was able to renew the lease.

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