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Solve Network Connection Problems

Solve Network Connection ProblemsWhen it comes to connecting to a network or the Internet, your connection method can change on a daily basis. If you’re well-traveled, your connection may even change on an hourly basis. Considering all the possibilities, it’s a bit surprising that problems don’t crop up more often than they do. We list some of the more common problems and a few ways to tackle them.

DHCP Connections
The most common wired Ethernet configuration, for home and work, is a DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) server that automatically assigns IP (Internet Protocol) addresses. This is perhaps the simplest connection method, as well as the least likely to cause problems. When you connect to an Ethernet network with DHCP, all of the essential properties are automatically configured for you.

If you can’t connect using DHCP, there are two possible problems, and they share the same solution. Your laptop may be holding onto an old IP address or other configuration parameters assigned from a previous connection, or your laptop can’t find the DHCP server and is using a self assigned IP instead. To remedy either problem, you can force your laptop to release and renew the configuration information.

In Windows XP, right-click My Network Places, either on the Desktop or in the Start menu, and select Properties from the pop-up menu, Right-click the Local Area Connection icon and select Status from the pop-up menu. Select the Support tab and click Repair. This will release and renew your IP lease, flush your DNS (Domain Name Server) cache, register your connection with the DNS.

Service, and perform a few additional housekeeping tasks. You can perform the equivalent tasks in earlier Windows versions using the WINIPCFG command. Click Start, select Run, type winipcfg in the Open field, and click OK or press ENTER. In the IP Configuration window, click the Release button and the Renew button, and then click OK. If you have multiple network adapters, you can use the Release All and Renew All buttons to perform a Release/ Renew cycle on all network connections at once. If you still have problems, try the sequence again and reboot your laptop.

DNS
If you can connect to your local network but not the Internet or some local network services, then it’s probably a DNS issue. When your Ethernet connection is via a DHCP server, the DNS information should Automatically be configured correctly for you. However, some networks prefer that DNS information be configured manually. You can add the DNS servers you use at home and at work to the DNS list.

Ethernet Cables
A loose or bad cable is often the cause of a lost Ethernet connection. As a mobile user, you should always keep a spare Ethernet cable in your toolkit. If your laptop’s link or activity light isn’t active, the cable may be bad. Replace the cable and try the connection again.

Static IP Connections
If the network you’re trying to connect to uses a static IP, you will need to manually configure your laptop. You must enter the IP, Subnet mask, and Gateway/Router IP information. If any of this information is wrong, you will probably not be able to connect. The best way to avoid problems with incorrect information is to avoid changing your network settings every time you change locations.

Chances are you don’t have this information handy; you’ll have to obtain it from your IT department or ask them to configure the settings for you. WinXP has built-in support for two Ethernet network configurations; however, one of the configurations must use a DHCP

Server and the other must use static or self-assigned IPs, to configure WinXP for two Ethernet configurations, right-click the My Network Places icon and select Properties from the pop-up menu. Right-click the Local Area Connection icon and select Properties from the pop-up menu, select the General tab, double-click the Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) option, and then select the Obtain an IP Address Automatically option. Select the Alternate Configuration tab and select the User Configured option. Enter the appropriate IP address, Submask, Default gateway, and DNS and/or Win server addresses, and click OK. WinXP will now automatically switch between.

The two configurations as necessary to make a connection, all you need to do is plug in the Ethernet cable and boot your computer. Earlier Windows versions don’t support the alternate configuration option, but there are thirdparty programs available that can add multiple configuration support for Your Ethernet connection, some notable possibilities include NetSwitcher ($19.95 per license; J.W. Hance; www.netswitcher. com), Select-a-Net ($10; Digerati Technologies; www.digeratitech.com /products/selectanet.htm), and IPSwitcher (Basic $20, Pro $30; Softmate; www.ipswitcher.com).

Wireless
Like many portable devices, laptops are susceptible to lose parts. Before trying anything more complicated or time consuming, remove and reinsert the wireless card. If your card uses an external antenna, check to be sure the antenna cable is securely connected to both the card and the antenna. Improvements in wireless features and performance are always popping up. Because of this overcharging landscape, be sure to keep your wireless drivers up-to-date to help.

Reduce or eliminate problems that can occur when a wireless network uses features that an older wireless driver doesn’t support. Intermittent or slow connections can be the result of interference from other electrical devices. Most wireless network connections operate in the 2.4GHz band, as do many cordless phones, microwaves, and other electronics. If you’re experiencing problems with your home network, try changing the wireless channel your access point is configured to use. If you’re having problems with your work network, consult your IT group for assistance.

Weak signal strength can also slow or prevent connections. The obvious solution is to move closer to the access point. When this isn’t possible, you can increase the effective signal strength by using external range-boosting antennas. These antennas are available from a variety of wireless manufacturers and are an essential part of a mobile toolkit if your job depends on staying connected.

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