Here we’ll discuss how to overcome four different annoyances you might encounter with your wireless network:
1. Forgotten WEP or WPA Security Key or Passphrase
Are you trying to connect another Wi-Fi computer or device, but don’t remember the security key or passphrase set on your router? Don’t worry: It’s easy to find your WEP key or WPA/WPA2 passphrase.
If you have a computer with Windows Vista or 7 that is currently configured with the Wi-Fi router, you can simply open up the network properties to see the security key/passphrase. You can’t do this in Windows XP, however, since the security key/passphrase can’t be unmasked like in later versions of Windows.
To find your key/passphrase in Windows Vista or 7, start by bringing up the list of available wireless networks. In Vista, click Start > Connect To, or in Windows 7, simply click the Network icon in the lower right corner. Then right-click your network name, select Properties, and click the Security tab. Check the Show Characters box and you’ll see the key/passphrase. Also take note of the Security and Encryption types.
If you can’t use a Windows Vista or 7 PC to lookup your security key/passphrase, you can use a tool called WirelessKeyView. It recovers the keys/passphrases stored by Windows. Download and run it on any PC that is or has been configured with the Wi-Fi network.
2. Forgotten Router Password
To change a router’s settings, you login to the Web-based interface by typing the router’s IP address into a browser and logging in with a username and password. During the setup wizard of some routers, you’re prompted to change the default password. If you aren’t sure that you’ve created a new one, first try the default.
Most Linksys and D-Link routers use “admin” for both the default username and password, or just for the username and a blank password. You can look up the defaults for your particular model here. If your Internet Service Provider installed your router, contact them for the login info.
If you’ve logged into the router before, you might see if the Network Password Recovery tool can retrieve the login credentials on the PC you logged in from before.
If it looks like you set a password but can’t remember or recover it, you can quickly reset the router back to factory defaults. However, this will reset everything so you’ll have to reconfigure your wireless security and maybe your Internet connection settings. To reset hold in the small reset button on the back of the router for up to 30 seconds. Then you can connect and login with the default credentials.
3. Giving a Friend Access
If you have a friend or family member come over with a laptop, netbook, phone, or other mobile device with Wi-Fi capability, they might want to get on your wireless network. You can simply give them your security key/passphrase to connect.
However, if you have sharing enabled on your computers or devices they may be able to access them. If this isn’t acceptable, you can check if your router has a guest access feature that broadcasts a second virtual network separated from your main network. To check, login to your router’s web-based interface by typing its IP address into a browser, then login and look for a guest feature.
There are also other ways to give guests access, including using the new virtual network functionality of Windows 7. You can create Wireless Hosted Networks using the Command Prompt or by using an application like Connectify.
If you receive a prompt in the lower right corner of Windows about a certificate or other credentials when trying to connect to your Wi-Fi router, you might have 802.1X authentication enabled. This authentication requires an external server and is usually only used on business networks. It enables the use of the Enterprise mode of WPA or WPA2 security. If you’re connecting to your home or small office router, you should have this authentication disabled since you’re likely using the Personal (PSK) mode of WPA/WPA2.
How’s how to check the option in Windows XP:
- Click Start > Control Panel, and then open Network Connections.
- On the wireless connection you’re using to connect, right-click it and select Properties.
- Select the Wireless Networks tab.
- Select the network name from the list box and click Properties.
- Select the Authentication tab and make sure the option is disabled. If its enabled but grayed out so you can’t disable it, go back to the list of wireless networks, remove the network, and add a new entry.
This option doesn’t appear the same in Windows Vista and later. You can’t enable authentication unless you select WPA-Enterprise, WPA2-Enterprise, or 802.1X as the Security Type. You should just verify you’ve set the correct Security Type and Encryption Type. To do this open the list of available wireless networks, right-click the network you’re trying to connect to, and select Properties.
4. Having to Manually Connect after Restarting
You shouldn’t have to do anything for your PC or laptop to reconnect to your Wi-Fi network after restarting. The security key/passphrase should be stored by Windows or, if installed, the connection manager for your wireless adapter.
However, if you have a third-party connection manager installed but it isn’t running correctly, you might have problems getting it to reconnect automatically. If this is the case, try to uninstall the connection manager via the Add/Remove Programs utility in the Control Panel. Look for the name of the wireless adapter vendor and remove the program(s). This should still keep the driver installed for the wireless adapter, which is the only thing required for you to use the built wireless manager of Windows. If you still have issues, follow the manufacturer’s directions to reinstall their software.