WiFi technology is ubiquitous worldwide. Everyone knows about it, and almost no people are left who don’t use it. Connecting to a hotspot is easy and does not require any knowledge. However, things are not always that smooth. It is pretty common for your computer not to see available WiFi connections. If you encounter this problem, we will tell you a few ways to fix it.
The causes of this problem
If your PC does not see any access points, does not search for them, and you are not sure about support for WiFi, the problem is probably related to the software or hardware of your PC. The problem can be caused by the following:
- Disabling WiFi in Windows;
- Switching to the “Airplane mode”;
- Missing or incorrectly working wireless network driver;
- Enabled WLAN AutoSetup service;
- Operating system failure;
- Disconnection, damage, or absence of WiFi adapter and monitor mode.
Using the network module as a monitor requires a particular driver, so it is almost impossible to activate this mode accidentally.
If your computer does not see a particular access point but sees the others, the cause is most likely in the router settings or the properties of the transmission environment. Namely:
- The access point has a frequency that is not supported by the PC adapter;
- The transmitting wireless channel is loaded with signals from neighboring devices using the same frequency band;
- SSID (wireless network ID or name) broadcasting is disabled;
- WiFi signal is too poor;
- Signals are distorted by external interference.
If the computer finds and catches unprotected networks, starts working when disconnecting other devices from access points, or shows different forms of selectivity, the problem is related to a faulty or outdated network driver.
Enable and disable WiFi
It only takes a couple of seconds to check if the wireless network is active in Windows: click on the globe (networking icon) in the system tray and make sure that WiFi is not disabled.
If the connection is disabled, open the network panel and click on the “WiFi” button in the “Network & Internet” menu. If you see the airplane item, click “Airplane mode” to deactivate it.
Check if the wireless light is on the PC’s top case if you don’t see the WiFi item in the network dashboard. If not, the adapter is probably deactivated. To turn it on, press the combination of the Fn key and the antenna button on your keyboard. You can also activate WiFi using the special switch on the body of your computer.
Check the driver
- Open the Device Manager. In Windows 10, you can do this through the Start menu. In Windows 7, the Device Manager is located under Start — Computer — Properties.
- Open the “Network adapters” item. If there are no “Wireless” or “WLAN” options, but there is unknown hardware, open the website of the PC manufacturer, such as HP, Lenovo, Asus, etc., download the wireless network driver, and install it.
If the Wireless module is present and marked with an exclamation mark, do the following:
- Open the context menu of the adapter by right-clicking it and selecting the “Uninstall” option.
- Confirm your agreement to remove the device and restart your computer. After restarting, Windows will reinstall the WiFi driver. If it does not, download it from the device manufacturer’s website and install it manually.
The driver is functioning, and the indicator light is on, but there is no WiFi connection
It is possible that the WiFi network is not showing up due to a system failure. Such failures are caused by viruses, antiviruses, optimizers, boosters, and “cleaners,” but sometimes, they occur for other reasons. To determine the reason for the problem, boot the device from any drive or flash drive. If the wireless network works when booting from an external media, the problem is related to the settings or the Windows breakdown.
To improve the Windows functionality, do the following:
- Close programs affecting the network, such as antiviruses, firewalls, etc.;
- Roll back to a recovery checkpoint created when there were no problems;
- Find and fix damaged system files using the sfc.exe console utility. Sfc is a proprietary Windows tool. Launch it with the -scannow parameter as an administrator in the Command Prompt or the PowerShell terminal;
- You can also repair damaged network structures using the following utilities: “Network Troubleshooter” (Start — Settings — Network & Internet — Status), NetAdapter Repair, Complete Internet Repair, Wifi Repair, etc.
Using the utilities mentioned above can worsen the situation (except for the Windows Troubleshooter). These tools are designed for users who understand how networks work and how to configure them. If you do not have enough knowledge, study the purpose of each function carefully before running such an application. But it is better to contact a specialist.
Check if the services are running
Some disk cleaner programs and boosters may disable unnecessary system services. But sometimes, even essential elements of the Windows functionality, such as the WLAN Autosetup Service, are considered useless.
The above-mentioned “Network Troubleshooter” utility can check and launch network services and eliminate the causes preventing their work. But you can also do this manually:
- Open the Task Manager and go to the “Services” tab.
- Find the WlanSvc (WLAN Autosetup) service in the list and right-click on it. If the service is stopped, click “Start.” To get more information about its purposes, click “Open services” at the bottom of the Task Manager window.
In case of a large-scale failure, e.g., after a virus attack, it is necessary to reset all Windows services to their default settings. But you cannot do it with a single click as this option is not provided. In this case, you can use some third-party utilities.
Choose a working frequency
WiFi routers based on IEEE standard 802.11n or later (802.11ac or 802.11ax) support 2 frequency bands, 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. They can be enabled simultaneously or individually.
In apartment buildings, the 2.4 GHz frequency is often overloaded, so communications through it are not very stable or rapid. The 5 GHz frequency is usually available, so some users prefer this one and turn off the 2.4 GHz frequency.
This makes sense if all the WiFi devices in the apartment are also 802.11n or 802.11ax. But some old devices can access only a 2.4 GHz access point. If you have such a computer, it won’t even see a 5 GHz network.
To fix this error, open the wireless settings in the router’s control panel and change the setting to “Use 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz simultaneously” or “2.4 GHz only” if the “5 GHz only” range is checked there.
Search for the best channel
Inability to access the Internet because of bandwidth (the wireless channel where the access point and the network device communicate) overloading is also widespread when using the 2.4 GHz band.
In the wireless settings, the default channel selection is “Auto.” But this is not always the best solution. The manual alternate tuning method sometimes allows you to find a free and less overloaded channel.
Find the hidden access point name
Your computer may not see the access point because it does not show its name (SSID) in the list of available connections.
The function of hiding SSID is an additional security measure. However, the advanced user can bypass such protection easily. At the same time, an inexperienced owner of an access point cannot determine why their computer cannot see WiFi just because of this setting. So it is better not to use this function if there is no need for this.
The SSID visibility control on the router is located in the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz wireless mode settings sections. The “Enable SSID Broadcast” checkbox is set by default.
If it is unchecked, you will see the “Hidden network” option in your computer’s list of available connections instead of the access point name.
Sometimes a WiFi signal may disappear at a distance from the router. Increasing the transmitter power through the access point settings does not always help, as does dragging the device from place to place.
You can solve this problem using special devices called WiFi repeaters. It’s enough to put one or two of them in places where the signal fades to enjoy a stable wireless network.
Connecting a repeater to a router is easy:
- Plug both devices into a power outlet and place them a short distance away from each other.
- Set up and activate the wireless network on the router according to the router’s instructions if it is not set up beforehand.
- Press and release the “WPS” button (on some models, it is labeled “QSS” or with two rounded arrows) on the repeater and then on the router. This will connect them without a password.
- If one or both devices do not support WPS, connect the repeater with a cable through the LAN port to your computer, open the administrator panel of the repeater according to the instructions, and specify the name and password of the network you want to enhance in the “WiFi connections” section.
- Once you have established a connection with the access point, move the repeater to where the router’s signal is poor. Plug it into an outlet and start using it.
Protection against interference
The interference may be caused by wireless devices, electrical appliances, wires, antennas, LED lights, etc. Weak interference reduces the stability of the connection, and substantial interference can jam the signal completely.
Unfortunately, you cannot protect against all interferences at once, but you can use the following tips to reduce their impact:
- Position the WiFi signal source in a room with no powerful electrical appliances. Place it above the locations of devices that use the wireless network, e.g., above the door in the hallway;
- Use only high-quality shielded cables for making cable connections between the devices, such as your computer and TV. If there are many copper wires in your apartment, transfer some devices to the network through Power Line or fiber optic cable;
- If possible, wall up the places where you put power lines in the walls with cabinets;
- Connect wireless devices that support the EEE 802.11n/ac/ax standard to a 5GHz wireless access point;
- Replace a low-power WiFi router with the new one with support for MU-MIMO.
At least one of the above-listed methods can help you solve the problem. If not, you’d better contact a specialist.