Windows 7 Wireless USB Network Adapter Troubleshooting Disconnect From Internet After Computer Idle For Period of Time

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wireless-networking-connection-disconnect-trouble-signal-grahphic As regular readers know, I have been the unfortunate participant in a continuing issue with wireless networks randomly disconnecting in Windows XP and now with wireless network disconnects in Windows 7. Over that time, I’ve come to understand a lot about how Microsoft networking functions and how wireless networks work in general. I’ve also become very jaded at the second-hand support community at many forums.

Just in case you want to follow along from the beginning, or if your particular wireless networking issue seems more like one of these topics, here are the various articles I’ve written explaining the more advanced wireless network troubleshooting that might help solve your problem with Windows wireless networks. If you just need basic wireless network troubleshooting or a Windows wireless network setup guide, I’ll get you those too.

Wireless Network Problems Windows XP and Windows 7

  1. Wireless Network Drops Connection Using Windows 7 Troubleshooting
  2. Windows Randomly Disconnects from Wireless Network (XP based, but still applicable to Windows 7)
  3. Fix Wireless Network Connectivity Problems in Windows XP
  4. Windows 7 Wireless Network Random Disconnecting Issue Fixed Yet?
  5. Test Wireless Network Signal Strength and Check for Interference with NetSurveyor

As you can see, I’ve spent a lot of time getting into pretty advanced network troubleshooting. I have tried new wireless network hardware such as new wireless routers and new wireless adapters, but still have not gotten a completely satisfactory solution to the issues with wireless networking on Windows computers.

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It also turns out that the troubles with wireless network on Windows aren’t all Microsoft’s fault. Wireless network hardware vendors are so busy trying to out-market the next guy that they don’t pay any attention to wireless networking standards. They are also more interested in selling their new networking hardware than they are in supporting the existing hardware that they aren’t exactly speedy in providing updated network drivers or firmware either.

Be that as it may, with wireless networking equipment that is on the Windows 7 compatibility list, things should work, and when they don’t that is an error that needs to be fixed.

USB Issue Causes Wireless Network Disconnects?

All of which brings us to today’s potential discovery.

There are two tech support articles on Microsoft’s TechNet website (TechNet is Microsoft’s technical support center for IT Pros) that suggest the issue might not be so much with Windows wireless networking in general, but with a specific type of wireless networking hardware. More specifically, it seems that USB wireless adapters might be the problem.

Consider the number of users on Windows support forums or Microsoft support forums who state that their wireless networking problems happen most frequently during heavy use of the network. For example, gamers playing complex streaming games over high-speed modems complain of being kicked off of the wireless network in the middle of a game. Likewise, many users report wireless connectivity troubles when using BitTorrent or copying a large amount of data.

Then, take a look at this Knowledge Base article that suggests moving large amounts of data across a USB port with a certain type of hardware configuration can cause an issue. This is actually about a USB hard drive, but the concept of a lot of data flowing across a USB device is similar to the wireless network high-traffic problem.

Now, more specific to the wireless network USB adapter comes this article which suggests that when using a USB network adapter after the computer has been left idle for one hour (not uncommon for BitTorrent users or for users copying a lot of data from a server) The Knowledge Base article and attached hotfix don’t mention wireless adapters specifically, but the shoe seems to fit.

Does it work?

I have installed both hotfixes on my PC now. The first did not solve the issue on its own. However, since installing the second hotfix three days ago, I have had no wireless network connectivity interruptions. It will take longer to know for sure, but that is a promising sign.

If you are having this issue, I would recommend installing the above hotfixes in the reverse order. That way, you will only install the fixes that you actually need. (Obviously, this does not apply if you do not have a USB wireless adapter.)

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