Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Intermittent connection with Intel PROSet wireless card

I ran into a problem with some built-in Intel wireless cards in a couple of IBM machines a few weeks back. I reformated and reinstalled Windows, but for some reason after the reinstall the wireless cards weren't able to stay connected. The other thing that was happening is that after it dropped the wireless network it wouldn't be able to find any other available networks, or I'd see some of the networks but would get an error when I tried to join any of them. I double-checked the drivers, played with the BIOS, contacted IBM, tried the Windows and Intel wireless software, but nothing seemed to help. I'm using a Cisco WAP and had never had any issues with it before. The firmware is probably a little older, but since the wireless cards were working prior to the Windows reinstall, I didn't expect the router to be causing the problem. That's when I was finally able to find an answer with the help of some Google searching.

The power management and roaming aggressiveness built into the Intel driver can apparently cause problems, such as intermittent connectivity. The fix is relatively simple, but doesn't involve a driver update. You have to have administrative privileges in order to do this:

1. Right-click the My Computer icon and select Manage
2. Go to Device Manager 
3. On the right, click the + to expand Network Adapters
4. Locate your Intel wireless card, right-click on it, then select Properties
5. Go to the Advanced tab.
6. In the Property box, scroll through and look for Power Management. Make sure it is set to Highest. Uncheck "Use default value" if you have to. This will make sure that the wireless card isn't having any problems staying powered on.
7. Go back to the Property box and look for Roaming Aggressiveness. Make sure this setting is set to Lowest. Again, uncheck the "Use default value" box if you have to in order to change this setting. This will keep your wireless card from trying to jump back and forth between wireless networks.
8. Click OK, then close the Computer Management console
9. Restart, and hopefully things start working like they should 

I did find others say that upgrading their wireless access point/router did help solve their issue, so feel free to try that if this doesn't work. Like I said above though, for my problem I didn't need to and it didn't seem like it should have mattered anyway.

Here's a note from Intel. It doesn't mention the roaming aggressiveness, but I had found that in some forum notes somewhere. The combination that I gave above is what solved the problem for me, but feel free to try your own combo.

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