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WinXP wireless zero config / wireless client flakiness - other options?

 
 
Lanwench [MVP - Exchange]
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Posts: n/a
 
      04-18-2006
As more & more of my small clients want wireless, I've been running into
problems with the native WinXP zero wireless config stuff. It just doesn't
seem to work reliably - connections get dropped, sometimes stopping &
restarting the wzc service helps, sometimes not. Sometimes Windows seems to
forget the WPA+PSK passphrase. Sometimes Windows says it's connected, but it
isn't (e.g., it's associated, but not authenticated). Sometimes, Windows
decides it's going to connect to the neighbor's (unsecured) AP instead of
the one in the next room.

This happens on various makes and models of hardware, and even when
everything (firmware, drivers, OS patches) is updated to the latest
available versions....

For the business networks I support, this isn't that big a deal to
troubleshoot - I can get remote access to the WAP/combo WAP/firewall device
to check out the logs, or set up a syslog server on one of the wired
machines. Also, they tend to have better-quality gear. But for small home
networks, with consumer-grade appliances (e.g., Netgear, Linksys, etc) this
is rarely an option.

So of course, if the user power cycles the WAP and also the workstation(s),
they may be able to re-establish connectivity, but then there's no way for
us to know why they got kicked out in the first place. The log issue is
secondary to me right now - I just want to make sure I'm able to isolate the
problem to the client (flaky WZC) or the AP.

Bottom line:
I guess I'm wondering if there's any
*non-hw-vendor-specific*
wireless management software that will save wifi config 'profiles' . I.e.,
lock the client into connecting to a specific SSID, passphrase, whatnot.
This would at least ensure that client side is stable/OK. And then we stand
a chance of troubleshooting any problems on the AP side.

For some unfathomable reason, the SOHO users don't seem to find my
suggestion of "Power cycle all your hardware every morning and also
whenever you lose your connection" a workable long-term solution.

Any alternative suggestions would be most welcome. Thanks!


 
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Malke
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Posts: n/a
 
      04-19-2006
Lanwench [MVP - Exchange] wrote:

> As more & more of my small clients want wireless, I've been running
> into problems with the native WinXP zero wireless config stuff. It
> just doesn't seem to work reliably - connections get dropped,
> sometimes stopping & restarting the wzc service helps, sometimes not.
> Sometimes Windows seems to forget the WPA+PSK passphrase. Sometimes
> Windows says it's connected, but it
> isn't (e.g., it's associated, but not authenticated). Sometimes,
> Windows decides it's going to connect to the neighbor's (unsecured) AP
> instead of the one in the next room.
>
> This happens on various makes and models of hardware, and even when
> everything (firmware, drivers, OS patches) is updated to the latest
> available versions....
>
> For the business networks I support, this isn't that big a deal to
> troubleshoot - I can get remote access to the WAP/combo WAP/firewall
> device to check out the logs, or set up a syslog server on one of the
> wired machines. Also, they tend to have better-quality gear. But for
> small home networks, with consumer-grade appliances (e.g., Netgear,
> Linksys, etc) this is rarely an option.
>
> So of course, if the user power cycles the WAP and also the
> workstation(s), they may be able to re-establish connectivity, but
> then there's no way for us to know why they got kicked out in the
> first place. The log issue is secondary to me right now - I just want
> to make sure I'm able to isolate the problem to the client (flaky WZC)
> or the AP.
>
> Bottom line:
> I guess I'm wondering if there's any
> *non-hw-vendor-specific*
> wireless management software that will save wifi config 'profiles' .
> I.e., lock the client into connecting to a specific SSID, passphrase,
> whatnot. This would at least ensure that client side is stable/OK. And
> then we stand a chance of troubleshooting any problems on the AP side.
>
> For some unfathomable reason, the SOHO users don't seem to find my
> suggestion of "Power cycle all your hardware every morning and also
> whenever you lose your connection" a workable long-term solution.
>
> Any alternative suggestions would be most welcome. Thanks!


Hi, Lanwench. I have links to these multinetwork managers:

http://www.netswitcher.com - NetSwitcher
http://www.globesoft.com/mnm_home.html - MultiNetwork Manager
http://www.mobilenetswitch.com - Mobile Net Switch

Is that what you're looking for?

Malke
--
Elephant Boy Computers
www.elephantboycomputers.com
"Don't Panic!"
MS-MVP Windows - Shell/User
 
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Kerry Brown
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Posts: n/a
 
      04-19-2006
Malke wrote:

<snipped>

>
> Hi, Lanwench. I have links to these multinetwork managers:
>
> http://www.netswitcher.com - NetSwitcher
> http://www.globesoft.com/mnm_home.html - MultiNetwork Manager
> http://www.mobilenetswitch.com - Mobile Net Switch
>
> Is that what you're looking for?
>
> Malke


I think this quote from the netswitcher.com site pretty much says it all:

"Unfortunately, WZC is limited at best and useless at its worst."

If at all possible I avoid WZC and use the manufacturer's software if
available and it isn't actually worse that WZC. Thank you for those links.
They look like they may be very useful for some situations. Have you found
one you prefer over the others?

--
Kerry
MS-MVP Windows - Shell/User


 
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Malke
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Posts: n/a
 
      04-19-2006
Kerry Brown wrote:

> Malke wrote:
>
> <snipped>
>
>>
>> Hi, Lanwench. I have links to these multinetwork managers:
>>
>> http://www.netswitcher.com - NetSwitcher
>> http://www.globesoft.com/mnm_home.html - MultiNetwork Manager
>> http://www.mobilenetswitch.com - Mobile Net Switch
>>
>> Is that what you're looking for?
>>
>> Malke

>
> I think this quote from the netswitcher.com site pretty much says it
> all:
>
> "Unfortunately, WZC is limited at best and useless at its worst."
>
> If at all possible I avoid WZC and use the manufacturer's software if
> available and it isn't actually worse that WZC. Thank you for those
> links. They look like they may be very useful for some situations.
> Have you found one you prefer over the others?
>


It has been quite a while since I looked at them. Since I believe you
can d/l trial versions of all of them and they are all pretty
inexpensive (IIRC), you can be the guinea pig! Let me know what you
think.

Actually, on my son's laptop I use the Intel Pro Set app that came with
it and I also have the Alternate Configuration set up because he needs
a static IP and different subnet at school. It works well for him.

On my IBM laptop, there is an IBM program that is really good for
managing networks. Unfortunately it is Windows only and I never boot
into Windows on that machine. I don't think what I use in Linux is
going to help you or Lanwench!

Best regards,

Malke
--
Elephant Boy Computers
www.elephantboycomputers.com
"Don't Panic!"
MS-MVP Windows - Shell/User
 
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Kerry Brown
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      04-19-2006
Malke wrote:

<snipped>

> On my IBM laptop, there is an IBM program that is really good for
> managing networks. Unfortunately it is Windows only and I never boot
> into Windows on that machine. I don't think what I use in Linux is
> going to help you or Lanwench!
>
> Best regards,
>
> Malke


It might. I dual boot my Toshiba laptop to Linux and XP. Fedora FC5 seems to
have broken my wireless which worked fine with Suse 10 and FC4 but I guess
this isn't the appropriate newsgroup for that

--
Kerry
MS-MVP Windows - Shell/User


 
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Malke
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Posts: n/a
 
      04-19-2006
Kerry Brown wrote:

> Malke wrote:
>
> <snipped>
>
>> On my IBM laptop, there is an IBM program that is really good for
>> managing networks. Unfortunately it is Windows only and I never boot
>> into Windows on that machine. I don't think what I use in Linux
>> is going to help you or Lanwench!
>>
>> Best regards,
>>
>> Malke

>
> It might. I dual boot my Toshiba laptop to Linux and XP. Fedora FC5
> seems to have broken my wireless which worked fine with Suse 10 and
> FC4 but I guess this isn't the appropriate newsgroup for that
>


Hey - I'd *really* love to talk to you about this subject. Email me off
the newsgroup. If you don't have my address, get it from the private
MVP site.

Malke
--
Elephant Boy Computers
www.elephantboycomputers.com
"Don't Panic!"
MS-MVP Windows - Shell/User
 
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RobDee
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      04-19-2006

"Malke" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:(E-Mail Removed)...
> Kerry Brown wrote:
>
>> Malke wrote:
>>
>> <snipped>
>>
>>>
>>> Hi, Lanwench. I have links to these multinetwork managers:
>>>
>>> http://www.netswitcher.com - NetSwitcher
>>> http://www.globesoft.com/mnm_home.html - MultiNetwork Manager
>>> http://www.mobilenetswitch.com - Mobile Net Switch
>>>
>>> Is that what you're looking for?
>>>
>>> Malke

>>
>> I think this quote from the netswitcher.com site pretty much says it
>> all:
>>
>> "Unfortunately, WZC is limited at best and useless at its worst."
>>
>> If at all possible I avoid WZC and use the manufacturer's software if
>> available and it isn't actually worse that WZC. Thank you for those
>> links. They look like they may be very useful for some situations.
>> Have you found one you prefer over the others?
>>

>
> It has been quite a while since I looked at them. Since I believe you
> can d/l trial versions of all of them and they are all pretty
> inexpensive (IIRC), you can be the guinea pig! Let me know what you
> think.
>
> Actually, on my son's laptop I use the Intel Pro Set app that came with
> it and I also have the Alternate Configuration set up because he needs
> a static IP and different subnet at school. It works well for him.
>
> On my IBM laptop, there is an IBM program that is really good for
> managing networks. Unfortunately it is Windows only and I never boot
> into Windows on that machine. I don't think what I use in Linux is
> going to help you or Lanwench!


IBM Access Connections - as I'm sure you're referring to - is an excellent
prog. I regularly have to join with a number of different networks,
something that was a real fiddly nighmare previously. Now I use this prog to
store all my settings and I get almost instant connection when I power up in
a different location without lifting a finger (Encryption / TCP/IP /
Printers etc all saved and automatically applied).
I don't know if it works on non IBM machines however.

Rob

> Best regards,
>
> Malke
> --
> Elephant Boy Computers
> www.elephantboycomputers.com
> "Don't Panic!"
> MS-MVP Windows - Shell/User
>



 
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Lanwench [MVP - Exchange]
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Posts: n/a
 
      04-20-2006


In news:(E-Mail Removed),
Lanwench [MVP - Exchange]
<(E-Mail Removed) ahoo.com> typed:
> As more & more of my small clients want wireless, I've been running
> into problems with the native WinXP zero wireless config stuff. It
> just doesn't seem to work reliably - connections get dropped,
> sometimes stopping & restarting the wzc service helps, sometimes not.
> Sometimes Windows seems to forget the WPA+PSK passphrase. Sometimes
> Windows says it's connected, but it isn't (e.g., it's associated, but
> not authenticated). Sometimes, Windows decides it's going to connect
> to the neighbor's (unsecured) AP instead of the one in the next room.


<snip>

Thank you all for your comments/suggestions - I'm now leaning towards it
being a WAP issue in this one location, after further troubleshooting, and
am just going to swap out that bad boy for another one.


 
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James Gockel
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      04-20-2006
I notice my WZconfig service just shuts off!!
I have to turn it on manually!
MS needs to really get some programmers working on this stuff. But theyre
putting all work into vista. So Xp is on the back burner... sigh
-James G.

"Lanwench [MVP - Exchange]"
<(E-Mail Removed) ahoo.com> wrote in message
news:(E-Mail Removed)...
> As more & more of my small clients want wireless, I've been running into
> problems with the native WinXP zero wireless config stuff. It just doesn't
> seem to work reliably - connections get dropped, sometimes stopping &
> restarting the wzc service helps, sometimes not. Sometimes Windows seems
> to forget the WPA+PSK passphrase. Sometimes Windows says it's connected,
> but it isn't (e.g., it's associated, but not authenticated). Sometimes,
> Windows decides it's going to connect to the neighbor's (unsecured) AP
> instead of the one in the next room.
>
> This happens on various makes and models of hardware, and even when
> everything (firmware, drivers, OS patches) is updated to the latest
> available versions....
>
> For the business networks I support, this isn't that big a deal to
> troubleshoot - I can get remote access to the WAP/combo WAP/firewall
> device to check out the logs, or set up a syslog server on one of the
> wired machines. Also, they tend to have better-quality gear. But for small
> home networks, with consumer-grade appliances (e.g., Netgear, Linksys,
> etc) this is rarely an option.
>
> So of course, if the user power cycles the WAP and also the
> workstation(s), they may be able to re-establish connectivity, but then
> there's no way for us to know why they got kicked out in the first place.
> The log issue is secondary to me right now - I just want to make sure I'm
> able to isolate the problem to the client (flaky WZC) or the AP.
>
> Bottom line:
> I guess I'm wondering if there's any
> *non-hw-vendor-specific*
> wireless management software that will save wifi config 'profiles' . I.e.,
> lock the client into connecting to a specific SSID, passphrase, whatnot.
> This would at least ensure that client side is stable/OK. And then we
> stand a chance of troubleshooting any problems on the AP side.
>
> For some unfathomable reason, the SOHO users don't seem to find my
> suggestion of "Power cycle all your hardware every morning and also
> whenever you lose your connection" a workable long-term solution.
>
> Any alternative suggestions would be most welcome. Thanks!
>



 
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