Troubleshoot Windows XP Wireless Network Connection Problems

Does your laptop keep dropping or losing its wireless connection for no reason? Or maybe your laptop can see the wireless access point, but won’t connect unless you restart the entire computer? These are some of the problems that I’ve had myself and so here is a quick and dirty guide to troubleshooting your wireless network in Windows XP without having to go out and buy a new router! I also wrote a more recent post on troubleshooting Wi-Fi problems in Windows 8.

Firstly, the more common wireless issue is when the computer will continuously drop from the Wi-Fi network and then suddenly reconnect for no apparent reason. The main culprit behind this type of problem is usually software, not hardware. By software, I don’t mean your Windows operating system, but the device drivers for your wireless network card and your wireless router.

You’ll need to visit the web site for the hardware manufacturer for your PC and download the latest drivers. So if you have a Dell, go to, find your model and download the driver for the wireless card. Same thing applies to your router, go to D-Link, Netgear, or the Linksys web site and install the latest firmware for the router. You can read a previous article I had written about updating drivers for your wireless card if the connection is dropping.

That will usually fix any problems with the connection being dropped! If you’re having problems connecting in the first place, you might want to try resetting the current configuration in Windows and then try to connect. You can do this by first going to the Control Panel and clicking on Network Connections.

network connections

You’ll get a list of all the current connections on your computer, such as bluetooth, wireless, local area connection, etc. Go ahead and right-click on your wireless network connection and choose Properties.


Click on the Wireless Networks tab and click on the name of the network in the list of Preferred networks. Now you want to click Remove so that Windows will erase any of the current settings for that network and will start from scratch. A lot of times when you refresh the list of networks again, Windows will automatically connect. Go ahead and click OK and then click on the wireless network icon in your Taskbar and try to connect again.

wireless network

If that does not work, you can also try to Repair the wireless connection. The Repair option tries a few other things, such as disabling and re-enabling the wireless card, clearing out the DNS cache of old records, and then connecting to the wireless network. You can do a repair by going to Network Connections as shown below and right-clicking the wireless connection and choosing Repair. My image is showing Local Area Connection, but you should see Wireless Network Connection if your computer has a wireless card. 

repair network connection

Finally, it’s a good idea to check the TCP/IP properties of your network connection to make sure they are configured properly. A lot of times people manually change them or are told to change them by computer help desk folks on customer support calls. To check the settings, go to Network Connections like mentioned above and then right-click on the network connection and choose Properties.

network connection properties

Now select Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) in the list box and click on Properties. You’ll want to make sure that the Obtain an IP address automatically and Obtain DNS server address automatically radio buttons are selected. There are cases where the IP address and DNS server addresses have to be manually entered, but that is rare and should never be the case in the home environment.

obtain ip address automatically

So if updating the driver, resetting the configuration, and repairing the network connection don’t work, then try to unplug the wireless router and plug it back in after about a minute. It’s best to turn off the cable modem too, but you should always turn on the modem first, then the router.

Unless there is something physically wrong with the router, one of the methods above should work! If you’re still have trouble with a network connection in Windows XP, post a comment and we’ll try to help. Enjoy!

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Comments [10]

  1. annonymous says:

    My computer which is a windows XP doesn't show the little wireless connection icon when I go to Network Connections. please help me

  2. Mariusz says:

    Click on Network Connections, right click on Properties. At the bottom of the Local Area Connection Properties window you will see two boxes. Mark the upper one, click OK, enjoy!

  3. merch says:

    i uninstalled my wireless connection is there anyway to reinstall it?

  4. Santanu says:

    i have R52 IBM thinkpad, after restoring to factory settings i am not able to connect the wireless network. help me.

  5. BJ says:

    I keep getting an error "Windows was unable to find a certificate to log you on to the network" whenever I try to connect to my home wireless! How do I fix this?

  6. Waldo says:

    The only way I've found that works to fix Windows wireless problems is to switch to linux or Mac. Both of these have completely resolved my intermittent wireless problems with Windows. This approach solved a number of computer problems I've had with Windows and hasn't really introduced any new ones.

    People often defend Windows without having spent any _significant_ time with another platform. Once you do though, you realize there are better ways of doing things.

  7. lacike says:

    Mam problem, Xp mi najde wifi ale nejde pripojit a vobec nechce kod, hoc siet je zaheslovana, potom spojenie prerusi. Neviem co mam robit. uz som ju aj odstranil zo zoznamu a stale po novom najdeni mi vyhodi tu istu chybu. HELP!

  8. Oscar says:

    I just re-installed Windows XP in my computer, but I cant connect to the internet, the only icon that shows in Network Connections is one that says "1394 Connection", but if I plug in the cable, it doesnt show anything, neither the wiireless. How can I fix that>?

  9. Lee Howard says:


    I've encountered a very strange problem with my wireless connection as well as direct with a CAT5 ethernet cable.

    1. One of my PCs has a dual boot with XP and Linux installed on it. I've connected to the router via an ethernet cable. I have been using this PC for a couple of years at least, but suddenly, about a month ago, I lost the internet connection on XP, but my Linux internet is still working as expected. I've tried turning the router power off, deleting the MB ethernet driver, and even installing a wireless USB and nothing has worked at all. I'm very much confused as to why the XP connection doesn't work but Linux is still connecting OK.

    2. I've installed dual boot XP and Linux on two of my kids' PCs. Both XP and Linux connect to the internet with wireless USB. Now both of my kids' PC are unable to connect to the internet on XP, but Linux can still connect to the internet just fine.

    The only reason that I could find is that I installed both XP and Linux on the same physical drive (one hard drive) but with different partitions. But that should not be an issue for losing the connection.

    How can I fix these problems?

    Thanks for your time,

  10. sue says:

    In your step about the wireless connection properties you show a tabs: General, Wireless Connections and Advanced. I do not have a tab called Wireless Connections. Where do I find those attributes?

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