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Windows 7: Internet drops from working wifi, will connect to 2nd SSID on same LAN

08 Dec 2014   #1
tanwedar

Windows 7 Pro x64
 
 
Internet drops from working wifi, will connect to 2nd SSID on same LAN

I hope the title made a little sense.

We currently have 5 - 20 laptops on location depending on the day. There are around 10 signals in the area including our two, which isn't insane considering 15+ signals in an apt building isn't unusual and rarely causes conflict. This is in a two story office building with ours on the top floor. Directly below us is a restaurant which I assume some of their appliances mess with our signal. Regardless of that, we still have great signal strength. We have two routers in the office to help ensure signal strength and two SSIDs (for the swapping mentioned below).

A random number laptops at random times of the day will lose connection to our signals. Which laptop, when, how many laptops, and which SSID is not consistent. There is nothing wrong on the WiFi icon or an ipconfig [/all] and others will still be working on the network just fine. You can then swap to the other SSID, which could at the current time have users working on it and users with it broken, and your internet works. I've tried to find some sort of pattern behind this. Time, brand, model (laptop and WiFi card), nothing leads to a pattern. No where in our office is the signal weak.

Sometimes we do remote conferences/presentation from our location and it looks quite bad when the laptop presenting the remote session randomly drops in the middle of it, so it's becoming quite an issue there. It of course is a nuisance regardless of what people are using the internet for. Any suggestions of something to try?


Edit: I forgot to mention that both routers are simply APs connected to the main firewall which does dhcp etc.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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09 Dec 2014   #2
dsperber

Windows 7 Pro x64 (1), Win7 Pro X64 (2)
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by tanwedar View Post
Edit: I forgot to mention that both routers are simply APs connected to the main firewall which does dhcp etc.
Just to clarify some terminology...

APs (i.e. "access points") are more often referred to "wireless access points", i.e. WAPs.

They are not in fact "routers". They are simply "wireless access points", which provide secondary wireless networks (i.e. SSID's) at remote distant locations away from the primary router, through a wired connection to the true primary wired router. This solution is commonly used when the wireless network available from the true primary router just can't reach the remote location dependably because of walls, distance or other radio frequency interference in the neighborhood.

Any device connecting (either wireless, or even wired if the WAP also provides some wired connectors as part of its "wired/wireless switch" technology) through these secondary wireless networks is actually passed on through by the AP to the primary router, where true network connected device management and DHCP occurs. Devices connecting to the WAP (either wired or wireless, doesn't matter) all appear as "wired connected devices" back on the primary router. This is because the WAP really is a "wired multi-port switch" from the perspective of the primary router, and any device connected through a wired switch will appear as a "wired connected device" on the primary router. It just happens that a WAP also provides a wireless way to connect to it, but this fact is hidden from the primary router and still looks like a "wired connected device".

Also, the primary main router (where DHCP management occurs) does normally also contain "firewall" technology to prevent intrusion from the outside. But the device itself is still referred to as a "router", not a "firewall".


Now, as to your actual issue, which I'd describe as random and occasional and unpredictable "fadeout" of wireless connectivity to assorted laptops, even while other laptops remain connected just fine to the same wireless network (i.e. SSID, from one of your two WAPs). The existing wireless connection is working fine from that laptop, until for no apparent reason it just is lost.

Well, I'm not sure there's an actual true solution here. I'd say it might be externally caused by the comings and goings of the other wireless networks also active in your building, potentially causing occasional RF interference on the very same wireless channel that happens to be in use for your own various wireless connected laptops which might then be affected. Remember that if your laptops vary by manufacturer and type, then the wireless adapters in them almost certainly also varies in their capability and sensitivity and reliability. Even when two laptops are side by side, their wireless reliability may vary depending on which wireless network they're currently connected to, as well as just their own inherent wireless hardware capability.


These types of situations can certainly be bothersome and annoying, as they are intermittent and seem to elude any genuine correction attempts, but are really "fatal" when they occur and that's harmful. But you can certainly try out other adaptations to improve the reliability and consistency.

(1) you can try WAP hardware from different manufacturers, to see if that provides superior performance. The WAP units from Ubiquiti (which come in assorted capabilities and prices depending on your need) are very highly regarded for commercial WiFi setup situations, and perhaps need to be installed professionally. But you presumably get what you pay for. I don't have any firsthand experience with these myself (other than to read the user reviews) but they're probably much more consistent and dependable than everyday inexpensive home-quality standard retail vendor WAP units from your local store and installed by yourself.

(2) you can instruct your laptop users to always DISCONNECT/CONNECT whichever of your multiple wireless networks is closest (and therefore probably will be the most consistent). You can use the Free (or professional) Acrylic WiFi Analyzer app (or similar) for Windows installed on the laptops to work as a diagnostic aid to decide what wireless networks are strongest in the laptop vicinity. There are similar free WiFi Analyzer app products for smart phones that do similar things.

(3) you can add additional wireless network enhancers to increase your own network strength or range, into each room. Things such as "wireless range extenders" (which are kind of similar to WAPs, or might perhaps be considered "wireless extension cords") can be used as plug-in (to wall power sockets) devices where existing ethernet cabling doesn't exist.

(4) Although "auto" channel assignment for the wireless device connections often is perfectly fine, sometimes in a "congested" situation (with interference from other nearby wireless networks using the same channel), manually setting your wireless networks (in the WAPs or wireless router) to a much lesser congested channel can improve things markedly. Again, the WiFi Analyzer apps will help you decide what your location looks like, and what channel might be best to try and use.

(5) modern wireless networks can run at 2.4Ghz or 5Ghz, and can use 802.11a/b/g/n/ac protocols. Each of these combinations has its own unique pros and cons, with certainly distance from the wireless radio transmitter being the most significant, along with the presence of physical interference in walls, floors, and ceilings. The 5Ghz band typically provides shorter range but higher speed connections, while the 2.4Ghz band can span longer distances but is also typically the most commonly used and therefore most "congested". But you can try varying these parameters yourself (through different vendor equipment and settings) to see if it makes any significant difference or improvement.


Don't know what else to suggest right now.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
10 Dec 2014   #3
tanwedar

Windows 7 Pro x64
 
 

Quote:
They are not in fact "routers"
They actually are routers hardware wise. Until fairly recently I have had to work with what we already have, to some extent. So they are actual wireless routers that I set up to work as WAPs. My wording didn't phrase it so that made sense I guess.

(1) At our new site we plan on using 2-3 of the UniFi APs. I've read so many good things about the product and the only negative seems to be their tech support, though most people don't seem to need it.

(2) Both WAPs give full (or 4) bars and they both have >-60 dBm signal strength anywhere in the office so swapping to a specific network isn't an issue. To test this I used the Wifi Analyzer app for my S5 and I have used Ekahau HeatMapper to get a more detailed look. Ekahau (free version at least) isn't insanely accurate but for my needs it's plenty.

(3) Strenth issue mentioned above.

(4) I already do the manual config because I just don't trust auto.

(5) 90% of our devices are running 2.4ghz N with possibly a couple G devices for some reason. There are very few devices on our network that can use the 5ghz band simply due to our needs when purchasing laptops. Because almost no devices use it, I keep it turned off for simplicity.

Honestly I think when we go to our new location it will solve most of these problems. But that's not until the spring unfortunately.
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