Saturday, November 28, 2015

Windows 7 WiFi Tweaking

I didn’t mention it in my last post but after I had reassembled the laptop and brought it back up, I had lost my network connection. After some quick troubleshooting I was sure that I had messed up my WiFi card.

I could connect via an Ethernet cable and was OK, but try as I might I could not get WiFi going.

Weird thing was that the card hardware was showing up in the device manager with no errors and reported to be working properly.

Even though the WiFi router is less than 3 feet away from my desk, maybe the antennas got messed up during the reassembly?

I shut the laptop down and opened up the bottom access panel, pulled the WiFi card, removed and inspected the WiFi antenna connections and card posts.  All looked OK.

I reassembled everything, checked the BIOS settings at reboot; normal.

Still no WiFi connection.

After some more time meditating, I realized the “issue”.

I hit the button on the keyboard to turn the WiFi on and it was working again.

Some Dell laptop systems (like my Latitude at work) use a mechanical switch to toggle on/off the WiFi.

Other Dell systems (like my Studio and XPS models) use a dual-use function key.

On my home systems there is no LED indicator to show that the WiFi has been disabled.

I had crossed that bridge before here at GSD: Mostly Minor Network Notes

Which led me to the following:

  • Start/Control Panel --> Network and Sharing Center.
  • On the left side-bar, select “Change adapter settings”
  • On the menu-bar, choose, “Advanced” and from the drop-down menu “Advanced settings”
  • Then in the resulting dialog window, select the network connection(s) and using the green arrow on the right, change them in order up or down accordingly. 
  • Save your changes when done.

Only this time, that still didn’t seem to help. The system just wants to camp out on WiFi even when the wired is available and set as the preferred order.

This Super User question/answer session has a nice listing of alternative options you can try.

The top tips were the same as I offered but I also learned I could manually change the “metric” setting for the WiFi interface so that Windows might prefer the wired connection. Again, that didn’t seem to help in my system’s case. From the discussion:

Two things: first, you can add a metric to each interface to specify that one is better than another. Using the GUI, go to your network connection's properties, TCP/IP, Advanced, uncheck Automatic metric, and fill in the appropriate number. Since the metric represents a cost, Windows will automatically use the interface with a lower metric if it can't decide. This Knowledgebase article describes the feature you're disabling. - Michael Lowman

This worked for me, but I had to mess around with it a bit. I changed my Wired connection metric to 10 and Wireless connection metric to 20. When I used route print, it showed the Wired as 250-300 and the Wireless to 20-30 each time. To get around this, I just set each to the extreme. Wired = 1, Wireless = 999. I now get the proper order. Thanks! – Lyrical

Go to Control Panel -> Network and Sharing Center -> Change adapter settings -> Then 'Right Click' on the Wireless network and select Status Then click Wireless Properties and make sure that if you have it set to connect when in range that it is also set to connect to Connect to a more preferred network if available. - leeroy Jenkins

I got it working by setting the metric setting to 10 for wired and 1000 for wifi, all the other suggestions I found didn't work. - Mokubai & Morbia

  1. Go to Control Panel > Network & Internet > Network Connections
  2. Right click on your Wifi Network Adaptor usually titled "Wireless Network Connection"
  3. Select Properties
  4. Click on the "Configure" button
  5. Select Advanced tab
  6. Under "Property" Scroll down to "Disable Upon Wired Connect" and highlight it
  7. On the Right-hand side under "Value", select "Enabled" in the drop down menu
  8. Hit OK
  9. Disable then Enable back Wireless Network Connection.


So that’s the reason why I had turned it off; the Studio laptop really has a hard time choosing the (better) wired Ethernet connection for network usage over the WiFi. So I just had forgotten that I was still toggling it off manually when I am hooked in on the wired connection.

So now I just need to make a mini sticky note to remind me now what mode the WiFi setting is in. Like one of those dishwasher signs you flip over that say “Dishes Clean / Dishes Dirty”.


Claus Valca

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