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How to Fix Linksys Router Connection Problems

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I mostly write about tech and digital business. This is my experience with 3D sickness.


Nothing annoys the hell out of you more than your Linksys router & adapter refusing to connect.

It's not easy to troubleshoot when you're frustrated and don't know what to do. That's why I created this guide when it happened to me (for my reference and yours).

When Linksys Routers Get Stubborn

While many insist that Linksys is the top brand in home computer networking, there's no doubt that their software sucks, and you'll undoubtedly encounter a problem at least once during your ownership of a router & adapter combo.

This guide was created for you—and was inspired by an incident I had where my WRT54G router and WMP54G adapter refused to coincide with each other. While you won't need my particular setup, this guide should help you figure out whatever problem you have with your setup.

This guide was written while using a PC on Windows XP. If you're a Mac user, you're probably using some other magical quick fix, or can simply read this guide and figure out how to get this done in OSX! If you're using Vista or Win 7, this guide should still give you the "gist" of finding out where your issue is.

"Cannot Associate With Access Point"

This was my error message in the Linksys adapter software menu's dashboard. No matter what I did, my Linksys router and adapter refused to connect. I did everything from double-checking the connection type, password, manual settings, even restarting the router, re-installing software and everything in between, but nothing worked.

What's worse is that this problem can even happen for no reason at all, at any time, as if some invisible force messed with it. The reason why this error message appears is because Linksys' software is god-awful. Don't install it! You'll have to use Microsoft Windows to get the job done. Here's a quick and dirty guide to get you through this process!

Getting Started

Sparing further dialogue, here's a quick guide of the steps I took to fix my problem and get my connection working. Now, my upstairs computer with the router is successfully sending the signal to the downstairs computer, which is receiving a signal through its adapter:

  1. Installing the Router Driver on your first PC: Don't install the Linksys software. Instead, save its drivers to a new folder on your desktop via the Linksys support page (you can use the drivers included on the CD that came with the router, although the version on Linksys' website may be newer).

    If your router is not already installed, connect it by following the included instruction booklet. When you reboot your computer and it asks you if you'd like to install the driver, you'll have to follow the options for "Install drivers manually" and/or "Have disk" and point it to the driver folder you've downloaded to your desktop.

    Your PC will then install the drivers for your router, and that portion of this guide is complete.

  2. Installing the Adapter Driver on your second PC: Now install your adapter in your second computer, which is going to receive the signal from the router. Install the card as described in the instruction manual, but do not install the Linksys software. Instead, once again, copy the drivers to your desktop.

    Make sure you're using the right driver version for that particular card (for instance, be sure not to use a 4.1 driver for a 4.0 adapter card). The adapter version should be on a label right on the card itself.

    Reboot your computer after installing the card. When Windows finds the hardware, go through the driver installation process exactly as in step 1: choose "Install drivers manually" and/or "Have disk", point it to the driver folder on your desktop, and it will install your software.

Configuring the Router's Settings

Your router and adapter should now be installed in their respective computers with the most recent drivers. Now it's time to configure your router.

Go to the PC that has the router connected to it and open up your internet browser. Visit—this will open up your router configuration panel.

Follow the directions below, only looking at the sections I mention, and leaving everything else at its default!

  1. "Setup" Tab/"Basic Setup" Sub-Tab: Set to "Automatic Configuration - DHCP." Click the radio button next to "Enable DHCP server", and make sure the "Maximum number of DHCP users" is set to a number that represents the number of computers that will be getting internet access in your home (for me, this number was set to 2).
  2. "Wireless" Tab/"Basic Wireless Settings" Sub-Tab: Wireless network mode should be set to "Mixed." "Wireless Network Name" should be something you can remember—maybe your first name and last initial...this is a very important part that you'll have to reference later! Lastly, set "Wireless SSID Broadcast" to Enable.
  3. "Wireless" Tab/"Wireless Security" Sub-Tab: This part is entirely up to you. Personally, I'm using "WEP" mode, because I have an iPod Touch which connects to a wi-fi internet connection, and it only recognizes WEP at 128 Bits. There's nothing wrong with using this, so try it out as you follow this tutorial - you can always go back and change it to something else, like "WPA Personal."

    As for a passphrase, create a password—this is the 2nd most important thing. You'll have to reference later on. Click "Generate." The password will generate four "Keys," you'll only need to look at "Key 1" later.

  4. "Wireless" Tab/"Wireless MAC Filter" Sub-Tab: Set "Wireless Mac Filter" to "Enable." Under "Permit Only," choose "Permit only PCs listed to access the wireless network" (this disallows your next door neighbor from stealing your wireless cable connection!). Now, go to your 2nd PC, with the adapter card in it. Click "Start" and "Run" in MS Windows. Type CMD and hit Enter, which will bring up a DOS prompt. Type ipconfig /all, and look for a MAC address (it will be called a "Physical address" on the list, and will look something like "01-A2-B3-E4-23-B5". Write this down. Go back to the PC with the router connected to it, which has the router configuration screen open. Make sure you're still on the screen under the "Wireless" Tab/"Wireless MAC Filter" tab, and click "Edit Mac Filter List". Type in the MAC address/Physical address that you've written down from the other PC, just a few seconds ago, anywhere on the pop up list (MAC 01 is fine). Make sure you use the correct format with the colons, don't use dashes. In other words, it should look something like 01:A2:B3:E4:23:B5 "Save settings."
  5. "Access Restrictions" Tab/"Internet Access" Sub-Tab: Next to "Status", click "Enable." Enter a policy name here - it's simply a user profile (for instance, MySecondPC would be fine). Click "Allow" next to "PCs." Make sure "Everyday" and "24 hours" are also checked. Click "Save settings," then make sure "MySecondPC" or whatever you chose for a Policy Name is listed in the dropdown selection at the top of this screen, next to "Internet Access Policy." Now, your 2nd PC has been given access to your router, while everybody else in range is restricted, since they are not on the access list (kind of like a virtual bouncer).

Getting a Signal to Your Adapter

Your router setup is now complete. It's now time for the other half of the battle—getting the signal to show up on your 2nd PC, which is using the adapter card! Remember, we're using Windows, not Linksys' software!

  1. Finding the router signal on the wireless network list: Double click the "Network connections" icon on the lower right hand side of the screen in the Windows tray. It should bring up a screen showing all of the wireless signals in the area, hopefully including the one being sent out by your router. You'll recognize it because it will be your first name and last initial, or whatever you named it in the earlier steps of this guide. If for any reason you can't find this "Network connections" window, it can be found in Start / Settings / Control Panel / Network. If you see your router's signal on the list, double click it. If you don't see your router's signal, something went wrong during your router setup. It's most likely that your router has "Wireless SSID Broadcast" set to "disable" within the "Wireless/Basic Wireless Settings" menu of the router setup page. Go back and check it!
  2. Connecting to the signal with WEP Key 1: Windows will now attempt to connect to the signal being broadcast by your router. If all goes well, you'll get a dialog box asking for the "WEP Key" that we saw before, during the router setup. This is the auto-generated key that the router software translated after you put in that password and clicked "Generate," as seen in "Configuring the Router's Settings", Step 3, above. Remember how it creates four WEP Keys, but you'll only need to remember Key 1? This is where you'll have to go back to your PC with the router on it, and click the "Wireless" tab, and the "Wireless Security" tab. Look for "Key 1" and write it down on a piece of paper. It's a ridiculously long string of 26 letters and numbers. Type out Key 1 in the dialog box on the computer with the adapter. It will ask you to type it out twice, the second time is just to confirm. Click OK, and your computer *should* connect to your router, and your problem is solved! If the adapter is not connecting to the signal, try typing in the WEP Key 1 again, making sure your caps lock is on, and that you've typed it in correctly. It's easy to mistype it because it's such a long thing to type in.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.