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Issue #286: January 13, 2013

Q: I have Cox Cable for TV and Internet. I have a desktop wireless-capable computer, a wireless smart phone, wireless Kindle e-reader, wireless laptop, and wireless printer.  I use a router. My problem is that I lose at least one Internet connection on at least one or more wireless devices or I lose the ability for my wireless printer to recognize my computer to be able to print.  I lose the ability to connect to Internet on my Kindle and even my computer all the time.  I find that if I disconnect my router and plug it back in after a few seconds I gain back connections until the next time I try to use one or more devices wirelessly.  It seems like I am using too many wireless devices, but it also seems like it might be my router.  Need your help please?

Patricia R.
Fort Walton Beach, Florida

A: Wow, it sounds like you’re really making the most of your Wi-Fi set-up, Patricia.  Even so, I can tell you it is very unlikely that you are using “too many” wireless devices.  I don’t know the actual physical limitation on your particular router, but it surely must be more than the five devices you listed.  I have at least a dozen different wireless devices connected to my home system at any given time, and that doesn’t include the devices of our kids or other family members that we grant access to when they visit.

Assuming that you have not been in the router’s configuration messing with the settings, I can only think of a couple of things that may be wrong.  You said you use a router (which is required to connect more than one device to an Internet connection) but I happen to know that many Cox customers receive a device that is a combination cable modem and wireless router when they sign up for service.  If you connect a second router to it you’re going to get unpredictable results, probably similar to what you’re describing.  The other possible problem might be outdated firmware in the router.  Check to be sure you have the latest version installed, as oftentimes manufacturers fix errors or release updated software for their devices long after they’re sold.  If it turns out that someone has been messing around with the settings in the router, you can get rid of whatever error was introduced into the configuration by restoring the router to its factory settings.  On your particular router, this is done by pressing and holding the “Reset” button for at least 10 seconds.  After you release it, wait for all the lights to stop flashing, and the reset is complete.  Doing so will remove customizations such as the SSID and whatever custom security settings you have enabled.  You should make note of these settings before doing any resetting to ensure all your devices re-connect without having to change all their settings.

Attention MSN Messenger Users:  Unless you’re reading this column in China (and if you are, I’d love to hear from you personally) you’re in for a big change in service in March.  Microsoft purchased Skype in 2011, and has announced they are about to put the service to work as a replacement for its MSN Messenger chat service.  You shouldn’t lose any capabilities with the changeover.  In fact, word is that even your account information will work to log in to Skype.  You’ll still be able to send instant messages and do video chats as always, and since Skype is cross-platform, one account will work on your computer, laptop, Mac, tablet, and smartphone.

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