Wi-fi dropping on a new laptop. Why?

Got a new Dell laptop that I’ve not been a big fan of but started to make peace with – until the last few days. Now I’ve got an issue with intermittent wi-fi connectivity issues. No other devices have this problem.

Over the last few days, about once - maybe twice - a day, the wi-fi just drops. It quickly reconnects, but I can’t have this continue as some of my work involves conferencing in real time.

Can’t figure out if it’s a driver problem or a Windows 10 problem. I’ve tried a number of little fixes after the first time it happened this morning, and then it happened a second time.

I’m afraid that I might “fix” it permanently and forget how to unfix it.

Any ideas what it could be? It’s a brand new Dell G3 in case anyone’s interested. It’s an Intel Wireless AC-9462 card. And Windows 10.

Not a fan of Windows 10, either, for what it’s worth but what choice do I have besides joining the Mac cult?

Anyhow, tips, war stories appreciated.

Only thing I would consider is if you’re moving your laptop from room to room. There’s multi room (large area) 2 or 3 piece wi-fi modems available to assist with that situation. Other than that it sounds like you should be calling your internet provider.
One other thing to consider is checking your connection speed from time to time throughout the day. It’s likely to give more honest reporting compared with what your provider with tell you. Internet providers often have this test available on their web site. If not you can do a search for ‘internet speed test’ or some such phrase. Some providers are famous for dropping connections or not living up to advertised download speeds 90% of the time. The number of their customers sharing broadband at any given time may affect this as well. This is usually most noticeable when trying to stream video. Maybe this applies to video conferencing as well. That’s something I never plan to find out. If you’re signed on with a discount internet provider it may not be such a discount after all.
Don’t join the Mac cult. That has nothing to do with your problem.

Thanks for replying.

I’m not moving from room to room; my laptop is basically my desktop for all practical purposes.

Moreover, the Internet connection is, well, fantastic – and it works on other devices. It even works for a very outdated Windows 7 machine that I had before this one.

I’m almost certain it’s a computer-specific problem. I’ve had this machine for about 3 weeks, and the internet worked fine until about 5-7 days ago. The only significant change I can think of is that about 10 days ago, I enabled the McAfee AV protection that came with this system.

I suspect that there’s a potential conflict somewhere between Windows 10 (or any of its updates or lack of updates), McAfee, and my Intel driver. Most of the time the connection is actually very, very good, but it then just drops unexpectedly and I have to wait about 60-90 seconds for it to get back online automatically, which it does without fail (so far)

Try disabling McAfee and just going with the Windows Defender that’s built into Windows 10. As long as you’re not downloading and installing weird shit you should be fine.

It that doesn’t work, update the WiFi drivers.

I’ll try that, and was thinking that might be my first step beyond what I’ve tried so far.

At this point, I’ve switched my wi-fi setting from “public” to “private.” I had seen somewhere that the “public” setting sometimes gets cut after a certain amount of time online - don’t know whether that’s true or just someone talking crap on the internet but that did not work, though I see no harm in having switched the setting.

I saw one suggestion to switch the power settings, but my settings were already set so that the internet wouldn’t just stop the connection in sleep mode.

Agreed. McAfee seems to be the source of many a computer woe. I use Kaspersky. I still use Windows 7.

My Wi-Fi setting has always been “public”, but any Internet disruptions I’ve experienced have always been due to the router/modem, which a power-cycling usually fixes. There have been a couple times where I had to call my ISP to diagnose the issue with the router though.

Yep, Windows 7 was always the most streamlined and intuitive OS for me, but newer PCs come pre-installed with Windows 10 and I don’t want to bork the machine in attempting to roll back. :frowning_face:

I still have an older laptop with Windows 7 and I’m sure as hell never going to update that.

Thx for the feedback so far. I’ve uninstalled the McAfee - I can always reinstall it later, I suppose. Defender actually works well as an AV and firewall program. I figure anything really sinister isn’t going to be detected anyway.

We’ll see how this works. My next fix is to see if any drivers need to be updated.

Also, if feasible, if you can get a wired connection, they truly work better than wifi and are more reliable.

You may also want to check your power settings. If you have them too stringent, it could be trying to shut off your wifi to save power. It could also be trying to put your laptop to sleep after no activity, and it could be killing your wifi as part of that.

It’s still under warranty, so call Dell. I know their support is shoddy, but they should be willing to help with something so obvious. Have you tried reinstalling the driver?

Happened again. I was helping my wife test something on Teams. Her machines were fine; mine dropped the signal.

The three times it has happened today have all involved some form of videoconferencing, which never happened with my Sony Windows 7 machine. My Windows 7 was getting slow and seriously outdated in terms of web conferencing, but it was stable.

Frustrating. It seems to be a problem that’s getting worse.

Is it possible to have great wi-fi and still lose an internet connection? In other words, is it possible that having a wired (ethernet) connection would make the problem go away? Unfortunately where I use my laptop is far from the router and it’s not practical to move either - at least not for the moment. I’d consider getting a long cable if it’s a must, I reckon.

An ethernet cable is certainly worth a try. I also found a couple of discussions where people were having a similar problem to yours, might be useful to see if anything suggested in there works.



Another aspect to look into is interference by other devices. This could be :

  • a device on the same network (DLNA server that checks something every 2 hours, alarm system, wi-fi connected car, printer sending its ink levels to the manufacturer, etc.). Logically this shouldn’t matter, but sometimes it does. Your router may allow you to create a second network where you’ll only associate your laptop.
  • interference at the EM level: our wi-fi was very unreliable at 2.4 GHz when we were using the microwave oven; we switched most devices to 5.2 GHz and they work fine now.

Thanks for the replies so far.

I’ve thought about interference but I would think that both the microwave and presence of other wireless devices in our apartment would have a more consistent and noticeable impact, and there’s no pattern I can identify.

I’ve tried all of the most common fixes. I once had an issue like this with an old Vista machine and it ended up going away on its own mysteriously. I’ll see what happens. Might need to get Dell support on the phone or chat.

First world problems, lol.

Are you using a VPN? Mine will sometimes shut off the internet randomly. I also went through a week of the modem randomly shutting itself off.

No, no VPN; I looked into using it but didn’t.

At this point, the only two things that I know of are switching to exclusively 5G channels or going into config. I might try switching to 5G channels, but I really don’t have the technical know-how to be fooling around with extensive troubleshooting. So anything that requires a command prompt is probably out for me.

I can’t think of anything obvious that caused it. There was an update that I found which didn’t finish loading but I think that had been there a while, and the issue happened after the update.

Maybe it’ll just go away…I hope.

It’s totally the wifi driver. First update Windows. Test again.

Fails? Remove the device in Device Manager, then check for changes and it’ll reinstall. Test that.

Fails? Go to Dell and navigate their weird website (you’ll need your Service Tag from the machine, enter that in the Support portal, you’ll be taken to stuff you need) and update any driver that looks like a network driver.

That fails? Look up the chipset of your wifi device, and download a Win driver from the manufacturer, and install that. 9.8 of 10 times you’re more than done, probably 2 steps ago.

Thank you!!! My suspicion is that you’re right – there’s probably an issue with the wifi driver itself (or a potential conflict between the driver and other things)?

At the risk of jinxing myself, I did a hard shutdown and I’ve not had connection problems in the almost 24 hours since then, and I did a lot of high-volume web use last night. I know that in theory a restart after update installation should be better than a hard restart in Windows 10 but I read somewhere that a shutdown / power down might reset hardware. I’m hoping it was just a temporary glitch that’s fixed, but if not, I will absolutely keep your suggestions in mind.

Many thanks!