Troubleshooting: WiFi on laptop only provides internet connectivity at home?


#1

I grabbed a Dell G7 laptop back in August, and I’ve been using it with no problems at home. I mostly connect directly to my router via Ethernet, but I’ve confirmed it works on my WiFi.

A month or so I had a problem the first time I tried to log on to the guest wifi at work. It sees the network and connects, and then for a brief window—like, less than 60 seconds—I have some connectivity, but then while the wifi connection is maintained, all internet connectivity dies.

At the time I wrote it off as a quirk of the work network (wouldn’t be the first time), but in the last few days I’ve realized I get the same thing when I try to connect to the wifi at my girlfriend’s house and a rental house in the mountains over the weekend. The router sees and connects to the network, and for just a minute some traffic makes it through, but then it’s dead and nothing I can do will bring it back.

So far all I’ve tried is removing the network adapater and reinstalling from Intel drivers, that didn’t help.

The fact that it works at home seems really bizarre, but my sample size here is just four networks so far. Anyone got any theories, or guidelines for further troubleshooting?


#2

Perhaps some oddball entry in a host file taking over your dns?


#3

How would I look for that?


#4

Open Notepad in Administrator mode (right-click on it and “Run as administrator”), then open the hosts file in \windows\system32\drivers\etc\hosts. By default, I believe everything should be commented out. Anything not commented out was edited by you or someone/something else.

Example of Facebook being blocked:


#5

Try looking for the hosts file in

C:\Windows\System32\Drivers\etc


#6

There maybe something with how Windows is treating home networks differently from ones designated “work” or “public”.


#7

Throwing out an oddball guess here based on your symptoms. Can you check and make sure you didn’t manually set static IP address and DNS entries on your laptop? If they are manually set, change them back to automatic (aka DHCP.)


image

If that isn’t it, you’ll need a little more information for me to help. At a location that isn’t working, try opening a command prompt and pinging a host by IP address, then by name:

C:\windows\system32>ping 8.8.8.8

Pinging 8.8.8.8 with 32 bytes of data:
Reply from 8.8.8.8: bytes=32 time=24ms TTL=116
Reply from 8.8.8.8: bytes=32 time=26ms TTL=116
Reply from 8.8.8.8: bytes=32 time=28ms TTL=116
Reply from 8.8.8.8: bytes=32 time=25ms TTL=116

Ping statistics for 8.8.8.8:
Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 4, Lost = 0 (0% loss),
Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds:
Minimum = 24ms, Maximum = 28ms, Average = 25ms

C:\windows\system32>ping google-public-dns-a.google.com

Pinging google-public-dns-a.google.com [8.8.8.8] with 32 bytes of data:
Reply from 8.8.8.8: bytes=32 time=28ms TTL=116
Reply from 8.8.8.8: bytes=32 time=26ms TTL=116
Reply from 8.8.8.8: bytes=32 time=25ms TTL=116
Reply from 8.8.8.8: bytes=32 time=26ms TTL=116

Ping statistics for 8.8.8.8:
Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 4, Lost = 0 (0% loss),
Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds:
Minimum = 25ms, Maximum = 28ms, Average = 26ms

C:\windows\system32>


#8

Thanks for the suggestions, I can confirm no static IP or DNS entries. Pinging both by IP and to the name return normal results. Sorry for the low-tech screenshot:


#9

And FWIW, if I wait long enough–ten, twenty minutes? wasn’t paying close attention when I looked back and chrome had loaded a page–connectivity eventually comes back, and then disappears again after a minute or two of use.


#10

Posted these last two posts successfully from the laptop. The ping results were from when nothing was else was responding at all though.


#11

Okay so connections aren’t working on some networks. Have they ever worked there? As an example, at your girlfriend’s place? You mention it peters out. When it does that, do you get any errors or indicators on the wireless connection or laptop? Ex. “No internet connection.”

Fading out or random connectivity drops are indicative of either a driver or hardware issue, so you could start by getting the driver from Dell that they list as the latest for your Dell service tag, versus the Intel driver. And if that fails you’re back to needing to call Dell. A quick Google showed you aren’t the only one that has had the issue, but that doesn’t necessarily mean there is anything more than a random hardware problem.

Things like, “it works here but does not work there,” are indicative of a config issue. Your IP settings, the security settings, Windows firewall settings, the setting set for that wireless network, the configuration FOR that wireless network, etc.

But a driver issue spans between the two above categories. It could hose your wireless network configurations, or it could perhaps have issues connecting to some wireless network security types, etc.

I wish I could help more, but I’m hoping some of this might lead a bit further for you?


#12

I grabbed the wireless intel driver from Dell for this laptop but it won’t let me install it because there’s a newer version, and I’m having trouble trying to uninstall the current drivers. Ugh.

I really appreciate your responses, I hate this kind of vague troubleshooting because I don’t even know where to begin to ask or what to rule out, so any kind of starting point for diagnosing things is helpful.

Edit: got the other drivers uninstalled, trying out the version from Dell support. 🤞🏼


#13

And to your earlier questions, I’ve never tried the laptop away from home anywhere other than work until this past weekend, so I’ve never had it successfully connect on wifi outside of my home.

When the connectivity dies, I don’t get any indicators from Windows or errors or anything, no “No internet connection” warnings on the network in the taskbar.


#14

No worries at all, as it is, things like this fall under what I do, or at least, used to do. I’m like the last stop that problems like this hit where I work, so my coworkers would usually be helping you. :)

At any rate, for a lot of Dell’s laptops, the actual wifi/bluetooth is a daughter card within the chassis. They do this especially so on the business models, so I’m not sure if it is the same for the G7, it may be built in for that one? It allows businesses to use Intel, Broadcom, etc based on what works best in their environment.

This is an example of one of those:

And you can see it plugs in to the board along the bottom of the card pictured. Obviously, shaking, moving, shipping a laptop can possible affect the connection of that module to the laptop motherboard. In some cases, there is a convienent access door to get to memory and the module is usually there as well. In other cases you have to disassemble the laptop chassis. Note that the other side of that wifi module connects to the antenna leads.

Here’s an example in a business model laptop:
image

What this means is that it’s possible your model has a wifi card that is replaceable. In the event it’s a hardware issue and you might be out of your Dell warranty period, this is what most repair shops would attempt to locate, check and replace.


#15

Just a thought: do you happen to have a USB wireless adapter? Could you slot that in, and try using it instead of the onboard wifi? See if you get constant connectivity that way?


#16

Confirmed, your wireless card is replaceable, but only go that route after exhausting things with Dell support (if you have any,) and still think it’s the wireless hardware.

Here’s a link to the procedure for that, along with the rest of your service manual.


#17

Great! I guess Dell support is my next step, but that’s going to be tricky since of course this issue doesn’t manifest at home where I can actually take the time to call them.

Just bought this machine late August though, so I assume I’m still covered.


#18

My first thought is the signal power. If it’s very high at home and had no issues could it be lower everywhere else, and if the hardware is not sporting well, this is when it reveals its issues?


#19

IPv4 at home and v6 out maybe? with DHCP it shouldn’t matter? Try turning on some logs, like this, maybe something will show.


#20

another vote for the potential of difference in signal strength. I experienced random timeouts first hand this year when my isp switched my previously working hardware, and solved the puzzling issue (affecting me even when 2 meters away!) by getting a proper extra routeur. I guess you can’t test that theory when it affects you in neutral territory, and that would drive anyone crazy!