My Wi-Fi disconnects for no reason!

Question

My Windows XP computer seems to constantly disconnect from my wireless network and for no apparent reason even though my computer is pretty close to the access point. Did I buy cheap equipment or did I do something wrong when I setup the network?

- Cody

Answer

This question was answered on July 1, 2004. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

With the exponential growth in home-based wireless networks, it is not uncommon to 'compete' with your neighbors in the unregulated wireless spectrum that is used by 802.11 based systems.

If you were the first one on the block to install a wireless network, you likely ran trouble free when you first installed the network But then, all of the sudden, it seemed to be having problems staying connected..

If you live in a traditional track home subdivision, a very likely cause is the addition of other wireless access points by your neighbors that are within range of your computer

Windows XP (and Windows 2000) comes with a small program (called an ‘applet’) known as the Windows Zero Configuration (WZC) service that makes connecting to a wireless access point much easier.

By constantly searching for any and all access points within range, it helps non-technical users make the initial connection by attempting to automatically configuring the connection This is especially helpful for ‘road warriors’ that come in contact with dozens of wireless networks in their travels

The problem with this neat little applet is that is searches for any available access point every couple of minutes When it finds new access points, it may attempt to ‘automatically connect’ to these new-found base stations, which disconnects you from yours This could possibly explain why your computer seems to disconnect for ‘no particular reason’.

If this service were disabled completely, it could make connecting to your desired access point more difficult because you would have to know how to manually configure your connection.

If, however, you disable the WZC after you connect to your desired access point, it will stop the constant update sequence that can cause a sudden disconnection.

To see if your computer is using WZC, click on the Start button, then on Run and type 'services.msc' then click on OK This should open a 'Services' window that shows you all the services that are available in your computer

Scroll down to the bottom until you find the 'Wireless Zero Configuration' service Assuming that you are currently connected to your desired wireless access point, right-click on it and select the 'Stop' option from the dialog box.

This will tell Windows not to keep looking for any new access points and possibly give you a more consistent connection

If you find that stopping the WZC service did help, you will need to go through this procedure every time you boot your system as WZC is automatically started by default.

Advanced users can create a shortcut on the Desktop that will to be quickly stop the service once the system starts and successfully connects.

The Target of the shortcut should be “C:\WINDOWS\system32\net.exe stop wzcsvc” to stop the service and “C:\WINDOWS\system32\net.exe start wzcsvc” if you want to manually start it again.

Windows 2000 users need to substitute “WINNT” for “WINDOWS” in the shortcuts.

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Author

Posted by Ken of Data Doctors on July 1, 2004