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My Vista laptop freezes consistently whenever I turn on the wireless networking. Its perfectly stable when using wired LAN or a USB 3G modem, but cold-freezes when using Wifi.

I've being considering upgrading to Win7 anyway and thought that reinstalling the networking stack might fix the issues, but if it's a hardware fault that will just be a waste of time and waste of a Windows license.

I've looked thru the Event Viewer and checked for other error traces but can't find any clues to help track it down. It seems more likely that a cold freeze is due to a hardware issue than software, is that true?

==EDIT== The laptop is a Toshiba A200 with an Intel PRO/Wireless 3945ABG Wifi driver on version

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Freezes when? As soon as you hit a hardware switch in the front of your device? At random times while operating on the wireless net? As soon as you plug in your USB wireless interface? – Jason Sherman May 5 '11 at 7:44
@Jason - random times not longer after turning on the hardware switch at the front. – Jonathan Day May 5 '11 at 9:11
up vote 4 down vote accepted

It's likely a driver problem.

I have a laptop with an Atheros WLAN card (Windows 7 x64), and it occasionally freezes and/or BSODs, with athrx.sys as the culpirit. (I forget the error.)

I've tried updating the driver; sometimes it gives a BSOD immediately when the driver starts, sometimes it works, depending on the version. Sometimes my mouse freezes for like 5 seconds, etc... it's pretty unreproducible.

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Download a live Linux CD/DVD like Ubuntu or Knoppix and check whether these freeze when you try Wifi. Cold-freeze sounds a bit like hardware, but you gave no clue about make or model. A bad hardware driver can have these symtoms too.

Buying Windows 7 will not be a waste if you have Vista now, IMHO. But it can not repair broken hadrware, of course.

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thanks @Turbo I hadn't thought of a liveCD boot, that's a good idea. I'm keen to get to Win7 at some point, I have it on my desktop and very happy. The question is whether to put an upgrade on an old laptop with possible hardware issue, or throw it away and buy a new laptop with Win7 pre-installed. – Jonathan Day May 6 '11 at 0:38
edited question with hardware and version details – Jonathan Day May 6 '11 at 0:41

This sounds more like a driver issue. I would suggest that:

  1. You verify that the wifi card driver is approved , i.e. WHQL .
  2. Verify the properties of the wifi card, if there are compatibility options please enable them.
  3. Check the internet for incompatibilities.

Finally, if this is not recurring every time then it is more likely H/W but you can never tell for sure.

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thanks @g24l its a new issue that has only surfaced after using the laptop for over three years and I don't believe any new drivers were installed (but with Windows Update, anything's possible) – Jonathan Day May 6 '11 at 0:36

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