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> Vista dropping my wireless internet connection
Mata
post Jan 1 2010, 08:44 PM
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I've got a Buffalo router (model WBMR-G300N) and a laptop running Windows Vista (an Acer Aspire). Everything else in the house connects with the router without any problems, but the laptop keeps on stoppng me from accessing the internet after a seemingly random amount of time. I remain connected to the router, so I can access its control page and reset the router through there and I can go back online as soon as the router has reset and I've reconnected to it. It's driving me bonkers!

All other devices in the house don't have any problems with the router, including a laptop running XP. When the laptop stops connecting to the internet all other devices can still get online, so it's not the router.

As an additional puzzle, the laptop seems completely unable to identify itself and get an IP address from the router. I have to go into the wireless connection's properties and define an IP address for the laptop in the TCP/IPv4 properties. If I don't do this then the connection sticks at 'Identifying' forever.

So, in summary:
The laptop can get online through the router, but it stops online access after a random period of time (usually between 30-90 minutes)
The laptop remains connected to the router allowing access to the router's control panel
The laptop can go back online immediately after resetting the router
All other devices are fine and can remain online while the laptop thinks the internet is blocked.

I didn't have this problem with the previous router, so it looks like there's something in the mix of Vista and the Buffalo router that just doesn't agree. Does anyone have any ideas for how to fix this?


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mooooooooooopo
post Jan 1 2010, 09:19 PM
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QUOTE (Mata @ Jan 1 2010, 08:44 PM) *
As an additional puzzle, the laptop seems completely unable to identify itself and get an IP address from the router. I have to go into the wireless connection's properties and define an IP address for the laptop in the TCP/IPv4 properties. If I don't do this then the connection sticks at 'Identifying' forever.

Regarding this part of the problem, it sounds like a problem with the DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) used to automatically assign IP addresses and configure some other settings. A quick search turned up this article which sounds promisingly close to what you described:
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/928233

I'd imagine the main issue is a DNS problem. If the computer can't access a name server then it can't translate a host name into an IP address in order to access the desired site. In this case you'll find that anything external that you access via a hostname will stop working. It's easy to test whether the issue is DNS related:

While everything is working (or on another PC):
Enter the command prompt (Windows Key + R to open up the Run dialog then enter "cmd")
Lookup the IP address of a server that you know works with the NSLookup command, for example "nslookup www.google.com".
Note down the returned IP address (make sure not to mix it up with the IP for the name server which will also be in the output).

After the connection issues (or on the laptop in this case):
Attempt to access the server via the IP address in your web browser (http://<ip>) and see if it works. If the site loads then you've narrowed it down to a DNS issue. It's possible that problems with your PC using DHCP to assign an IP address and configure itself would cause something like this. In addition to assigning an IP address DHCP is also used to configure the DNS servers that the host should use, though it's a little odd that such issues could take 30-90 minutes to show up but it's certainly possible.

Hope that helps, if not it's still probably worth posting whatever happens since it could help narrow the issue down.


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Mata
post Jan 2 2010, 11:31 AM
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Thanks for your help Moop, we're definitely going in the right direction.

Good news/bad news:

So, bad news, the microsoft solution didn't make any difference. Even with that reg key insterted I still would sit at 'identifying' permanently if I asked for automatic IP address assignment... Would restarting my machine have been important do you think? It didn't say to do that on the page.

Good news, you're right! I can still access websites through their numeric IP address when the written addresses don't work.

I've tried adding a permanent IP address to the router, associated with the laptop's MAC address, but that still doesn't make any difference.

For some reason it seems to die most often when I go onto the site OKCupid.com. That's probably coincidence, but it has happened fairly frequently when I've tried to load the home page there. I think my laptop doesn't want me to get dates! biggrin.gif

Anyway, yes, it looks like a DNS issue... The next trick is to work out what to do about that. I've got no idea.


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mooooooooooopo
post Jan 2 2010, 01:17 PM
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That's good news, it narrows the problem down quite nicely. smile.gif

There's always the possibility of a typo but MS have done a pretty good job of reducing the need to restart in recent versions of Windows. I'd expect that it checks the registry whenever it tries to assign itself an IP.

Associating an IP address with your computer's MAC address on the router probably won't help in this case - it still uses DHCP to assign the address. The only difference is that the router now assigns a specific address each time instead of picking the first address it knows to be free. It is a handy way of making sure the computer's IP remains consistent without confusing the router though.

I'd imagine the OKCupid thing is coincidence but computers do have a habit of being vindictive sods. tongue.gif

Since it looks like a DNS issue it might be worth trying an alternate DNS server. Normally the server that your ISP provides is fine but I've had problems in the past. Usually the router is setup manually or automatically to point at the ISP's DNS servers but other companies exist that provide their own. I currently use OpenDNS (the free version of their service) and it's working very well.

Since DHCP isn't working properly for that PC the DNS server addresses won't be assigned by the router either so you'll want to set them manually on the PC itself. This setting should be on the same dialog where you set your manual IP address. You'll have to uncheck "Obtain DNS server address automatically" and enter the addresses OpenDNS gives you as the preferred and alternate servers.

Alternatively, you could look in the router settings to find the addresses of the ISP's DNS servers and enter them manually on the PC in the same way. One potential scenario is that since no DNS server is setup the PC is making DNS requests straight to the router. Many routers support this and just forward the request on to the real servers. Other computers on the network are correctly assigned their IP addresses and DNS servers through DHCP so they are taking directly to the DNS servers. In this case if the DNS forwarding feature of the router was to fail at some point you would expect the behavior you're experiencing including the fact that resetting the router seems to fix things temporarily.

Again, it's not really a permanent or sure fire solution to the problem but switching DNS servers might help to narrow down where the problem lies and hopefully get everything working more consistently. I guess the permanent solution would be to get DHCP working correctly so that you don't have to manually assign the settings for the laptop. Unfortunately I'm not familiar with Buffalo routers specifically so I'm not really sure what else to suggest for that part of the problem.


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Mata
post Jan 2 2010, 01:47 PM
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Thanks again Moop. I've got myself set up with OpenDNS now and that all seems to be working, so I'll have to wait and see if it decides to break again. It's odd that it's so unpredictable... I've decided to avoid messing with the router settings as much as possible - it works perfectly well for everything else in the house, so I think the solution is in the laptop, not on there. Getting the DHCP working properly would be the ideal fix, but outside of that I'll just hope that the OpenDNS solution has nailed it and I don't have to worry about this for a few years biggrin.gif


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mooooooooooopo
post Jan 3 2010, 01:21 AM
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No problem. smile.gif

Hopefully it's still working okay, and I haven't just jinxed it by asking that?


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Mata
post Jan 3 2010, 08:10 PM
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So far, so good. You're a star Moop, that would have taken me ages to work out. Has anyone ever told you that you should do computery stuff for a living? ;D


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Daria
post Jan 6 2010, 09:16 PM
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So, I kind of skipped what Moop wrote as it takes me a while to figure out computery stuff. However! My laptop randomly disconnects from the internets ALL THE TIME. Sometimes it will be a week between restarts, sometimes five minutes. I just settled on the idea that it's sentient and disables the wireless when it knows it will be most annoying. Works fine when I plug into the router with an ethernet cable.


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Mata
post Jan 7 2010, 02:02 PM
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Try the thing Moop wrote in his first reply. If you've got a DNS issue like mine then it's pretty easy to fix (once you've worked out what it is!).


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