This article explains how to fix the problem of your Wi-Fi suddenly not working on a laptop that is a few years old.
Assuming that you have tested your internet with another device and the Wi-Fi is working OK on other devices such as a newer iPad, tablet or newer model of laptop.
You may be entering the Wifi password correctly to be met with the result saying “connection unavailable” or “currently unavailable”.
If you do not have access to another newer device, you will need a Cat5 ethernet cable to fix this issue as you will need to login to your router’s settings.
What Has Caused This Problem
Most new routers will automatically send their wireless signal out on dual-band. These bands are as follows:
- G Band: 2.4 Ghz (Has been standard for many years)
- N Band: 5 Ghz (Newer, wider band)
Let’s compare these bands to that of an old car radio. You can’t tune in to an FM station if your radio only picks up the old MW frequencies. (Likewise you cannot connect to DAB if your radio only supports FM).
Older laptops may have a wireless G adapter inside them. This means that they cannot pick up the signal from N band or dual band (which uses a combination of both N & G).
But It Was Working Fine Last Week!
Your router or “home hub” takes updates. These are known as firmware updates and are usually automatically installed overnight while you are sleeping. This may explain why your router and Wi-fi was working fine yesterday but suddenly cannot connect to old laptops. A firmware update may have knocked out the band settings to optimize the router for best performance with modern devices.
There are a couple of options to fix this.
Option 1: Upgrade To N Band
One option is to purchase a newer wireless adapter. N Band adapters come in small form-factor USB format and will easily connect into a free USB port on your older laptop.
Option 2: Alter Settings In Router To Split The Band
(If you are not technically minded, don’t worry, this isn’t as difficult as it sounds).
You will need to login to the settings of your router. To do so, connect an ethernet cable from your old laptop to one of the free ports on the back of your router. (or if you have another laptop that is connecting to wi-fi, use this machine to login).
The instructions including password for logging in to your router are printed on a sticker on the base or back of the router.
In these instructions, we’ll use the example of the BT Smart Hub.
Fix “No Wi-Fi On Older Laptops”
- Login To Your Router Settings
Open a web browser and type in the default gateway numbers. For BT Hub this is 192.168.1.254
- Enter Advanced Settings
This will require you to enter the router Admin password which is printed on the sticker on your router. This is not to be confused with the Wi-Fi password. This is the router password.
- Within Advanced Settings Split The Band
Depending on which model of hub or router you have, this will be worded differently. On newer BT Smart Hubs there will be a button to click that says “Split Band”. On older Hubs and other models there may be a tick box under the 5Ghz settings to unselect that says something like “Sync with 2.4 Ghz”.
- (Optional) Rename Your Bands
There is the option to rename your bands. The SSID is the name that the router sends out. Put a letter G in for 2.4 Ghz and add a letter N for 5 Ghz.
- Save, Exit & Reconnect
Your devices will now show up with the newly altered band names. You’ll notice on newer devices that the option is there to connect to either. If so, go ahead and connect to the 5 Ghz N band if available. On your older laptop you will see only to G 2.4 Ghz. Go ahead and connect to that by entering the Wi-Fi password.
If you do not know your default gateway, this can be obtained by following these instructions.
- Connect to the router with another computer on wi-fi or using an ethernet cable connected to the back of the router.
- Right-click Start Menu and open Windows Powershell. (or Command Prompt)
- Type & enter the following: ipconfig
- Take a note of the Default Gateway and enter this number in to the URL bar in a web browser.
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