Let’s go back in time for a little while and have a tip for Windows XP. More than once I have been asked last week about laptops not being able to see any wireless network, so I decided to write an article about it.
If you’ve been connected to a wireless network at your home or at the office with your laptop, and now for some reason your wireless connection is acting up like. For example, whenever you start the computer it will not auto-connect to the wireless network and you can’t see the available wireless networks. Not even the ones from your neighbors. Or when you go to the Windows XP wireless connection properties, you don’t see the Wireless networks tab (see image below). Don’t bother re-installing the wireless adapter drivers just yet, this could be happening because the Wireless Zero Configuration, an essential service, is stopped or disabled for some reason.
What to do when Windows XP can’t see wireless networks
To fix this problem do the following:
Open Control Panel.
Open Administrative Tools, and double-click Services.
Scroll down and look for the Windows Zero Configuration service and double-click it.
Now make sure of the following:
- Set Startup type to Automatic.
- If the Service status is Stopped click Start.
Go back to the wireless adapter properties by going to Control Panel > Network connections > Wireless Network Connection, and right-click the adapter and select Properties. Now you should be able to see the Wireless network tab where you can view the current and previous wireless network list, plus additional settings and the properties for each wireless network.
Oh! And if you are wondering what happened with the Wireless Zero Configuration in Windows 7, well now the new service is called WLAN AutoConfig.
Install only the wireless driver and not third-party software
Usually, new computers come with its own software to manage wireless networks, and in my experience, I have seen this being part of the problem. In my opinion the wireless manager that comes built-in in Windows is more than enough.
If you want Windows to have all the control about your wireless networks, make sure that in the Wireless Network tab the setting Use Windows to configure my wireless network settings is selected.
Additionally, you can uninstall the wireless manager software that came with the wireless adapter to avoid future problems. If you are not sure how to uninstall an application in Windows check this article to have an idea. Please make sure that you have the drivers’ CD in hand or the downloaded drivers from your manufacturer’s website and the wireless SSID and KEY written down in a piece of paper in case something goes wrong.
This might probably uninstall the wireless drivers as well, in that case restart Windows and at the start-up follow Found New Hardware Wizard to reinstall the wireless drivers (without the management software):
Select the option No, not this time.
Select Install from a list or specific location (Advanced).
Select where the driver is located: Search removable media (floppy, CD-ROM…) or Include this location in the search. If you choose the second options make sure to click the Browse button and look for the folder with the wireless adapter drivers.
Click Next to complete the task.
If after installing the wireless drivers adapter you are experiencing the same problem repeat the first 3 steps at the beginning of this article (don’t worry this should be the last time doing this).
Now Windows XP will find and install the drivers without the management software and hopefully you won’t run in this problem of not seeing the wireless networks again.
If you have any question let me know in the comments section below.