Asked in ComputersComputer Maintenance
Why does my computer randomly disconnect?
December 22, 2014 3:01PM
Hmmm, this could be caused by a few different issues. First, do
you have multiple wireless network configurations saved into your
laptop? (I am presuming this is a laptop but the same can be true
with a tablet or other Wifi device.) If so, then one (or more) of
those saved networks (sometimes called profiles) could be using a
default name that is also in use in your area. What can happen is
that when you are at home, something interferes with your signal
quality (even if the signal strength is still showing four or five
out of five bars) and your laptop switches to another saved network
that is set for "automatic connection when in range." However, when
it tries to connect to that network--say, Linksys for the sake of
argument--it finds that it does not have the appropriate wireless
network key, so it switches back to your network and gets a
connection again. This is all done automatically and behind the
scenes, so you do not get notification that it is happening. The
only way you would know would be to sit and watch to what network
you are attached constantly and see it happen.
Second, even if you do not have multiple wireless networks saved, you could be running into an issue with interference, especially if you are living in an apartment complex. A perfect example is a client I visited recently who had his wireless falling offline constantly. His router (as most are) was set to "automatic channel selection" and the way that is supposed to work is that it looks for the channel with the least interference. However, in his case, his router (actually a Motorola gateway that combines a wireless router and cable modem into a single unit) foolishly chose the most busy channel: channel 11. I reset it manually to channel 1 and that resolved his problem. Based on my diagnostic software, in his area, channel 11 had a dozen networks active while channel 6 had six and channel 1 had only four. So, you might try changing channels and see if that helps.
By the way, a point about wireless channels, it is advised to use only 1, 6, or 11 because of the way that wireless networking actually operates. A wireless radio actually uses five channels with the one selected being the center channel. So, in the case of channel 1, it is actually using channels -1 through 3 while channel 6 is using 4 through 8 and 11 is using 9 through 13. So, if you choose anything but the three aforementioned channel settings, you will be guaranteed to run into interference with other networks, possibly even two ranges of networks. For example, if you, for some reason, chose to use channel 8, your radio would be using channels 6 through 10 and, as such, you would have interference from the networks in both the channel 6 and channel 11 ranges. As such, this would make your problem worse rather than better.
Third, you might be running into interference from something else within your nearby environment at home. Many baby monitors and cordless phones operate in the same frequency range as the original wireless networking frequency range: 2.4 GHz. As such, if someone is using such a baby monitor or cordless phone (even if the phone is just sitting idle waiting for a phone call), these devices can and often will knock a computer off its wireless network since the phone and baby monitor signals are allowed to transmit at a higher power level than the wireless network radios are. The solution to this (if the baby monitor and/or cordless phone(s) belong to you) is either to replace the offending devices or disable the integrated wireless radio and get a USB wireless adapter that operates in the 5 GHz frequency range as well as a wireless router that uses that range as well.
If you are not sure how to evaluate your home environment to see what the problem is, then get in touch with a local computer repair store to see if they can take care of this for you. If you happen to be in the northeast Kansas area, feel free to send me a message through the site and I will be glad to arrange a time to help you through my company.
December 22, 2014 1:50PM
It has full bars at home but will randomly disconnect and say nothing. I can fix it by disabling my WiFi and turning it back on. I don't have this problem anywhere else. Just at home. My network drivers are also fully up to date. Google chrome, Skype, or whatever i'm doing will just tell me that I've lost connection to the internet and my computer still says that i'm connected.