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Managing Wireless Network Connections

Connect to your home wireless network, log on to the wireless network at work, go to a meeting and borrow the free Wi-Fi connection at the hotel, grab lunch and your emails at the local cafe, stop by the library and grab some Dewey decimals out of the ether—if you save your connections for reuse, you’ll have a pile of wireless connections at the end of the day (or maybe as early as your morning break!).

To sort out which connections live, which die, and which one’s top dog in your wireless universe, click the Manage Wireless Networks link from the task pane to open the dialog shown in Figure 12.8 A.

The topmost connection is the one Windows Vista will use first. If you prefer a different connection, select it, and click Move Up. You can also move a connection down. General properties for the selected connection are displayed at the bottom of the dialog. To view detailed properties, click Adapter Properties to open a UAC-protected tabbed dialog (see Figure 12.8 B).

Compared to Windows XP’s wireless network adapter properties, Windows Vista wireless adapters are configured with both IP version 4 and IP version 6 and also feature both the LLTD mapper I/O driver (used to map the network) and the LLTD responder (responds to signals from the mapper I/O driver).

By default, wireless connections are set up for use by all users. To enable the option to set up per-user connections, click Profile Types to open the Wireless Network Profile Type dialog shown in Figure 12.8 C. If you choose the all-user/per-user option, you will be asked on subsequent connections if the connection is for all users or for the current user only.

Wireless connection management is a lot easier in Windows Vista than in Windows XP.

Figure 12.8

Figure 12.8 Managing wireless connections.

Troubleshooting Your Network Connection

Although the Network and Sharing Center includes a Diagnose and Repair task, it’s not the only tool you have to figure out what ails your network connection. The graphic at the top of the Network and Sharing Center (refer to Figure 12.4) gives you a clear idea of what’s going on: If there’s an X marking across either the connection to the Internet or to your router, you’ve lost your connection. Check the following:

  • For USB-based adapters, check the USB cable. Disconnect the adapter from the port or cable, wait a few moments, and plug it in again.
  • For removable adapters (such as CardBus or ExpressCard adapters on laptops), eject the wireless adapter and plug it in again.
  • For internal adapters (such as integrated or PCI card adapters), use the Wireless Network Connection Status dialog shown in Figure 12.9 A to disable and enable the adapter.
  • If the connection break is between the router and the Internet, check the WAN connection between the router and your broadband device (such as a cable or DSL modem). If the cable connection looks okay, disconnect power to the router, wait a few moments, and power it up again.
  • If the broadband device’s signal lights indicate a problem, disconnect power to the device, wait a few moments, and power it up again. You may need to wait several minutes for the device to resynchronize.

If your connection is working but seems to be slow, it’s time to check network status. If you’re running a wireless connection, count the number of bars (just like in the TV commercial, more is better). For more information about either a wired or wireless connect, click View Status.

Figure 12.9 A shows a typical status dialog for a healthy wireless connection, and Figure 12.9 B shows a typical status dialog for a healthy Ethernet connection. Click the Details button for more information (see Figure 12.9 C).

Figure 12.9

Figure 12.9 Viewing connection status.

If you can’t find an obvious problem with your connection, but it’s either completely out to lunch or acting as if it’s transmitting molasses in January, click the Diagnose button on the status dialog or click Diagnose and Repair from the Task menu.

If you prefer to use advanced command-line stalwarts such as Ping, Tracert, and Netsh to troubleshoot your network, they’re still around. Open a command prompt window to use them.

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