Q&A: Should I Buy Support to Fix my Laptop's Wi-Fi Problem?

Have you ever had a computer that just stopped joining a network? It can be tricky figuring out just what's broken. Is it the router? Is there a problem with Internet access? Or, is the software busted? This question came to me yesterday from someone trying to find out whether he should spend money on additional troubleshooting.

Yesterday, I received a text message from a family member asking whether he should pay for telephone support to troubleshoot a wireless problem on his laptop. So, I picked up the phone and called him back. This was a situation were spending just a few minutes talking with each other would be easier than tapping out many long, complex text messages.

Here are the main takeaways from our call:

  • He has a wireless network
  • His smartphone, tablet, and another laptop were able to connect without issue
  • He spent around 15 to 20 minutes on the phone with his Internet Service Provider (ISP) trying to figure out what was wrong with his computer.
  • He had all patches and reinstalled necessary drivers
  • He spent an hour on hold with the hardware manufacturer seeking support
  • The manufacturer advised him there would be a fee for providing telephonic advice

The Answer

Based on the amount of time he invested in finding a fix, it seems likely that the PC's built-in Wi-Fi adapter just stopped working, probably due to a hardware failure. He has two choices: 1) Pay the money and likely send the computer in for repairs later, or 2) Buy a USB wireless adapter for a few dollars and see if that does the trick.

Online, wireless adapters can be had for around $10. With any luck, it will work when he plugs it in.