Anyone Know Anything About Networking?

Waiting But Never Connects My laptop will no longer connect with my home office Microsoft wi-fi router.

So I’ve been having two problems with my network that I’ve been unable to solve. The first one has to do with my primary home office PC. For about 3 months now I have not been able to view other computers on my home network. The reason why is that on my home office PC when under “my network places” I click on “Microsoft Windows Network” to browse the other PCs on my network I get the following error message:

“Unable to browse the network. The network is not present or not started. For more information click Help.” When I click help nothing happens. Not a terribly helpful error message.

I can see my home office PC from the other computers on my network and am able to access, for instance, all my photos and music with my living room PC which can see my home office PC just fine. I just can no longer see the living room Media Center PC (or any of the PCs on my network from my home office PC because I can’t get the network started or whatever that means)

The second problem just started today and it has to do with my wireless network. Like always I can see my “home office” wireless connection on my laptop with a rock solid signal. The problem is that when I try and connect to it I get the “please wait while Windows connects to the ‘HomeOffice’ network.” but rather than connecting and getting me online it goes for a while then stops and I’m not connected. I tried unplugging my (Microsoft, yes they used to make them believe it or not) wireless router in hopes of resetting it, no luck. I tried reseting the base station with the Microsoft Broadband Network Utility and still no luck.

I tried uninstalling my wireless network card in my device manager and rebooting but this didn’t fix it.

I did find one thing online that said I needed to ensure that I had WEP data encryption was turned on on the laptop, which I did, but still no dice.

I do show on my base station security log, “Connection attempt to base station from WAN blocked — ” a number of times, which I assumed was me trying to connect. But I disabled wireless security and still cannot connect.

If I connect a Cat 6 cable to my laptop and connect that to my switch (which is connected to my router) it connects just fine. In fact that’s how I’m posting this blog post right now.

As much as I love technology, it is the frustration of running into problems like this that take all of the fun out of it. I suppose I will have to wait until work on Monday to see if I can connect with the laptop at the Ferry Building’s free wi-fi access. At least that may give me a better clue as to whether the problem is with my laptop or with my network.

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  1. First thing I would check for your most recent problem is that you don’t have MAC address filtering turned on on the router. If for some odd reason the MAC of your wireless NIC changed, you would now be blocked from accessing the router. If you do have filtering turned on, turn it off and see if it will connect.

    Yes, it’s a long shot, but I’ve done it to myself before in the past. I seriously doubt this is the problem, but at least it’s a place to start.

  2. Matt says:

    Problem 1: Home office PC

    It sounds like your network configuration got hosed and/or some of the services are disabled. I would rerun the Network Setup Wizard and see if that solves the problem. Also, try disabling and reenabling File and Printer Sharing. Lastly, confirm that the following services are running (Start->Programs->Administrative Tools->Services): Computer Browser Service, Network Connections Service, Server Service, and Workstation Service.

    Problem 2: Wireless

    Based on the symptoms, it sounds like you don’t have the same WEP keys entered on both devices. WEP can complicate things, so I would start by disabling WEP on both the laptop and the router. Troubleshoot from there until you can get access. Then, you can enable WEP as the final step. Better, see if both can run WPA or WPA2, which are much more secure than WEP.

    Also, make sure you don’t have MAC filtering enabled (you can always add it back later).

  3. Stephen Boots says:

    brandon and mattyg gave good advice, but you might also try a simple solution for the home office PC – go to your Network Connections, right click on the LAN connection and select Repair.
    I’m in agreement on the wireless. it sounds like the WEP key being exchanged between the laptop and the access point is mismatched. I’d delete it from both a enter it again. Also, check to make sure that the properties for the connection on both is the same – Shared Key or Open for the Authentication method and uncheck the “Enabel IEEE 802…” option under the Authentication tab on the laptop’s connection properties. Finally, after you’ve checked all of these and it still can’t connect – either select “repair this connection” or delete it and recreate it. Good luck.

  4. Brian Hoyt says:

    The previous suggestions I will second. The only additional one I will add is about the wireless channel you are using. I am not sure if you live in an apartment/condo or townhouse but if you do someone might be interfering with you. If someone else plopped down a new router next door on the same channel it could cause similar problems. Try changing the channel to something else, for b/g networks the three to use is 1,6,11 just change from what you have to one of the others. There is nothing to do on client for that change it is just on router.

  5. Mike Smith says:

    Thomas – great blog BTW.
    Whenever I get a “Unable to browse the network”, try to manually search for the computer using its IP address. Go to Windows Explorer, hit the Search button, “Search for Printers, Computers, or People”, search for “A computer on the network”, and type in the IP address (192.168.x.x) under the computer name.

    In terms of your wireless, I agree with the suggestion to turn of encryption (temporarily) and see if that fixes your problem. If it does, then its probably a key problem. If it doesn’t, then I would swap out wireless routers…

    Good luck and keep up the great work!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Did you ever find a solution to this problem? I’m encountering the same thing and came across your blog looking for answers.

  7. Paul says:

    MattyG’s suggestion of starting services above worked for me.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I just wanted to say thank you for the advice I found on this page. I tried the advice on making sure the services were on and that corrected my problem.

  9. Jaida says:

    I had that as well, I later figured out I was missing a number in the wpa code, so try to check it again hope this help!