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I have two PCs, desktop and laptop, using different wireless hardware to access my wireless ADSL modem/router. Both have been working flawlessly for months. Both are running Vista. On Saturday, after applying a bunch of updates, the desktop lost the ability to connect properly to the router. Moving some stuff around let me hook the machine up via cable, which worked (and is still working) just fine.

This evening, the laptop started to do the same thing, having been behaving normally via wired connection until then. It appears to have applied one or more updates yesterday afternoon (although it was still working wirelessly until several hours past that time).

I'm writing this on my old WinXP Tablet PC, which still seems happy to connect to the router.

Is there a possibility that whatever Vista has been updating (probably not SP2, btw, since the desktop has that and the laptop doesn't yet) has somehow messed up wireless connection ability?

Security is WEP, key hasn't changed AFAICT - it's still the same on this machine, for example.

(I'm planning on taking everything up to Win7 soon, but there's a few weeks to go yet...)

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Were some of those updates driver updates? –  Troggy Sep 30 '09 at 19:33

3 Answers 3

I doubt it's the Vista updates, otherwise this would/should be a widespread issue. Here are a couple possibilities that come to mind:

  • Conflicting IP addresses between devices on the network.
  • Issues with renewing leases on the computer through the wireless connection
  • Static DNS settings on the wireless connection that needs to change
  • A dying wireless card.
  • While the key itself may not have changed on the router, the encryption type may have changed to a type your computer does not support (changing from WEP to WPA2 for example).
  • A static IP address is set on the wireless connection, but the gateway for the router has changed.

It's very hard, at least for me, to determine the cause of network issues without playing around.

The best suggestion I could have at this stage is to confirm the key and security method (WAP/WEP) for your router, uninstall the wireless card via the "Device Manager", and reinstall the wireless drivers provided from your manufacturer.

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+1 for excellent suggestions, thanks! Looks like it was something much less involved: I was leaping to conclusions which seem to have been purely coincidental. Ho hum. –  Mike Woodhouse Sep 30 '09 at 19:49
up vote 0 down vote accepted

All of Guard's suggestions were, it would appear, too advanced for my stupid problem, which has at least been resolved for now by manually setting a different wireless channel to the one automatically selected by the user. It appears that my particular router, a BT HomeHub v1.5, is prone to this error, something I just learned here

Within seconds of moving from channel 7 to 11, both "defective" PCs had automatically connected. I'm typing this from the laptop, in fact. How strange.

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The problem wasn't apparently Windows Update, but your neighbors's new router. –  harrymc Dec 17 '09 at 9:21

Yes, it may well be Vista updates. You now need to download the latest drivers for your wireless card again (you'll need to do this from a computer which will connect to the internet, of course) and reinstall the wireless card.

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