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I have a Windows 10 (64-bit OS) computer running at a remote field site that collects data from a scientific measurement instrument. The computer needs to run Windows since the manufacturer of the instrument only supports this operating system.

The computer is connected to a 2.4 GHz WiFi network with hardware provided by the Unifi Ubiquiti series of AP and controllers.

Unfortunately, the computer will disconnect from the WiFi network every few days. The disconnect tends to occur approximately every 4-5 days.

I can't pin down what the problem would be that causes the disconnect. I've tried updating drivers and disabling the network adapter power saving features on the Windows computer. The AP logs do not seem to be very helpful in debugging what is happening since the device appears to "disappear."

Might this issue be associated with the valid scan interval? What about the use of a WiFi range extender at the site? This range extender appears to be required since the computer is situated some distance away from the access point. Without the range extender, some of the devices cannot connect.

It is difficult to discern what could be the problem since the computer simply drops off the WiFi network without a trace. I can remotely power cycle the computer using a Web Power Switch that controls the AC power and after the power cycle the Windows computer will reconnect.

The RSSI of the wireless network appears to have a high signal strength as measured by the Windows 10 computer.

By the way, I've also noticed that some other computer systems with WiFi will drop off the network and simply "disappear" in the same way. The problem does not seem to be reproducible and it just happens.

What can I do to debug the issue and find a workaround?

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    I would first Reset TCP/IP (instructions at end). Then update BIOS, Chipset (if one), Power and NIC drivers. Update the firmware on the Ubiquity device (Ubiquity puts out updates regularly). Restart everything when done. TCP/IP Reset: Open cmd.exe with Run as Administrator Then: netsh int ip reset c:\resetlog.txt Then: ipconfig /flushdns
    – John
    Commented Jan 18, 2020 at 2:51
  • @John I will try to reset TCP/IP, but I don't know if the BIOS can be updated easily in a remote fashion. These are good ideas; I will give these a try and then get back to you. Commented Jan 18, 2020 at 2:54
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    There's some odd possibilities. I've been in a uni where the fire door opening and closing would cause the wifi to flap. Consider the environment as much as the hardware
    – Journeyman Geek
    Commented Jan 18, 2020 at 3:00
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    Could you pull a cable and use a device in client mode ?
    – Journeyman Geek
    Commented Jan 18, 2020 at 3:09
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    Or maybe switch channels/frequencies if that's an option
    – Journeyman Geek
    Commented Jan 18, 2020 at 3:29

1 Answer 1

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There is a strong possibility that network hardware is the problem here. I attempted some of the troubleshooting suggestions given by Journeyman Geek in the comments above. In addition:

  1. The Windows computer was set to have a static IP address (rather than obtaining a dynamic IP from a DHCP server on the network).

  2. In the network adapter properties, I de-selected the option "Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power" so that the WiFi adapter would not go to sleep.

  3. The scan valid interval for the network adapter was set to 120, a higher value that increases the interval for the computer to scan for another access point.

After these changes, the computer has been paired with the WiFi network for more than 8 days (longer than before). It appears that more than one action had to be performed to allow the computer to remain on the network. In the past, even if the network adapter powersave option was turned off, the computer would still drop off the WiFi network. A combination of approaches might have been necessary.

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