Windows XP / Networking

Signal strength is weak or signal quality is low

Assuming there is an access point close to your computer, a weak signal is probably caused by some kind of obstruction between your network adapter and the access point. To improve the signal quality and signal strength, try moving the adapter (and the computer if the adapter is on a PC Card) to a different location. The wavelength of radio signals at 2.4 GHz is extremely short (they are called microwaves for a reason!), so moving the adapter even a short distance can be enough to make a noticeable difference.

If you are using a USB adapter, you can be more flexible about its location. Try placing the adapter on top of a bookcase or in some other location with a clean shot to the access point. And try turning the adapter (or the external antenna) sideways so it is on its side rather than upright; this might bring the polarity of the adapter's antenna closer to the polarity of the antenna in the access point.

My computer connects to the wrong network

In an environment where signals from more than one wireless network are within range of the radio in a network adapter, the adapter will detect all of them. If the SSID option is set to join ANY network, the client will automatically associate with the strongest local signal; if the configuration program includes a list of two or more SSIDs, it will search for SSIDs in the order specified by the list.

To configure your computer to join a specific network, change the list of preferred networks in the wireless configuration program, and change the name of the workgroup. Both the SSID and the workgroup should match the SSID of the access point you want to use. If another network in the area uses the same SSID as yours, the wireless control software will assume it is part of your network. Change your SSID to something unique. To change the workgroup name in Windows XP, follow these steps:

  1. Open the System window from the Control Panel.
  2. Choose the Computer Name tab.
  3. Click the Change button.
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