Solve Four Common Wi-Fi Annoyances - Page 2

By Eric Geier

April 01, 2011

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:

  1. Click Start > Control Panel, and then open Network Connections.
  2. On the wireless connection you're using to connect, right-click it and select Properties.
  3. Select the Wireless Networks tab.
  4. Select the network name from the list box and click Properties.
  5. 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.

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