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I was viewing a clip on YouTube at home today and all of a sudden my wireless connection disappeared. No wireless networks are detected anymore. Nothing else was running, I was not doing anything else except having my browser open.

I haven't installed anything lately, nor have I made any system changes. There is no malicious software on my laptop either, you can be sure about that.

My cell phone has Wi-Fi support and it does pick up all the networks available, including my router. It's definitely my laptop.

I don't see anything worth mentioning in the Event Viewer.

It is not the wireless on/off switch button either (it's always on anyway).

What I find odd is that my mouse pointer started freezing from time to time which I suspect is happening when network scan is performed.

Could it be a hardware problem (I haven't had a NIC fail on me ever though)? Any diagnostic tips?

EDIT: The model is Asus F5RL.

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Have you checked to see if a recent Windows Update may have changed the drivers? – CharlieRB Nov 10 '11 at 20:05
It has nothing to do with Windows Update. The wireless driver has never been updated. – RandomGuy Nov 11 '11 at 13:02

It seems like a driver issue (and DPC spikes could explain the mouse pointer slowness). Make sure to get the latest driver from your OEM. Only get drivers directly from the manufacturer or via Windows Update if the OEM's drivers are horribly out of date.

Getting the latest graphics drivers along the way would help too.

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Why would I need a new driver when the previous one used to work just fine? I really doubt the current driver "got damaged". – RandomGuy Nov 11 '11 at 13:05
I doubt it "got damaged" too, but some other change elsewhere from a normal Windows Update could have caused a cascading chain reaction, or an amplification of a preexisting problem. Making sure everything is up to date is usually the first troubleshooting step to take. It could also be an issue with the Wireless Zero Config. service. – Bigbio2002 Nov 11 '11 at 16:03

It really is most likely the wireless on/off switch. Make sure to switch it to off and then all the way back to on. They can easily get knocked, damaged, or placed in an 'almost on' setting that's not all the way on. Also, some laptops have more than one way to disable the wireless -- update your question with the make and model number.

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I never use the switch and it's always on. I tried switching it off and on again and nothing changed. – RandomGuy Nov 11 '11 at 13:03

The problem is solved.

Apparently, I am not the only one with the same symptoms. The guy simply cold booted his laptop and wireless connectivity started working again. I really didn't expect this to solve my problem, but I tried it anyway and wireless works fine now. That user's laptop has pretty much the same wireless card installed (Atheros brand).

This is a very odd situation.

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The hardware somehow got itself into an invalid state. Doing a shutdown and cold boot lets all the capacitors and whatnot flush so the hardware is in a default state next time you turn it on. This also seems to point to a driver issue, unless the hardware is faulty. – Bigbio2002 Nov 11 '11 at 16:06
Did this actually solve your issue? – Simon Sheehan Nov 11 '11 at 21:47

Try to connect to the network with an Ethernet cable and run Win Update. See if there is a new driver for the wireless card. Look at the device manager to see if there is any problem with the device. If it has a yellow excl. next to it, right click and try to update the driver.

Access Device Manager by right clicking "Computer," choose "Manage" then select device manager.

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There are no problems reported in the device manager. There are no updates available either. – RandomGuy Nov 11 '11 at 13:06

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