How to Tell if Your Your Wireless Mini-Card Is Bad

By Ruri Ranbe

Notebook computers require a wireless mini-card, also known as a Wi-Fi adapter or PCI Express Mini-Card -- to see and connect to a wireless network. If your computer had no problem in the past connecting to your wireless hot spot but now fails to detect or connect to Wi-Fi networks, the wireless mini-card may have gone bad. You can troubleshoot the hardware to determine a possible cause for the issue, but if all troubleshooting methods fail, you may have to replace the card.

Step 1

Confirm that Microsoft Windows recognizes the wireless Mini-Card. Click "Start." Click "Control Panel."

Step 2

Go to "Hardware and Sound." Click "Device Manager." Input your administrative credentials, if prompted, then press "Enter."

Step 3

Expand "Network Adapters." Check the list for the Mini-Card adapter. Common terms referring to the adapter include "WiFi," "Wireless LAN," "WLAN" and "Mini-Card." Exclude devices that contain "virtual" in the name. If Windows doesn't recognize the device, the wireless Mini-Card might be bad.

Step 4

Double-click the device driver for the Mini-Card, if available. Check "Device Status." If an error appears, go to Microsoft Support, look up the error, then follow the instructions in the Knowledge Base to resolve the issue. If the solutions provided in the Knowledge Base fail to fix the error, the Mini-Card might be defective.

Step 5

Close Device Manager. Click "Start," then right-click "Network." Click "Properties." Go to "Change Adapter Settings."

Step 6

Select "Wireless Network Connection." Click "Enable This Network Device" if the icon is greyed out.

Step 7

Double-click "Wireless Network Connection." Click "Properties." Input your administrative credentials, if required, then press "Enter" to continue.

Step 8

Confirm "Client for Microsoft Networks," "QoS Packet Scheduler," "Internet Protocol Version 4," "Link-Layer Topology Discovery Mapper I/O Driver" and "Link-Layer Topology Discovery Responder" are checked.

Step 9

Click "OK." Click "Close." Confirm that the network equipment is set up properly, then test the network connection. If the computer fails to connect wirelessly, go to the computer manufacturer's website and find the support page.

Step 10

Select your computer model, then download the latest driver for the network device to the computer. Return to "Device Manager" and double-click the WLAN driver.

Step 11

Click "Driver," then click "Update Driver." Click "Browse My Computer for Driver Software." Click "Let Me Pick From a List of Device Drivers on My Computer."

Step 12

Select the latest version of the driver from the list, then click "Next." Follow the onscreen directions to complete the update, then restart the computer.

Step 13

Test the wireless network after upgrading the device driver. If the computer fails to connect to the Internet, either the wireless mini-card is bad or the card isn't compatible with the operating system.

Tips & Warnings

  • If Windows doesn't list the wireless card in Device Manager, follow the above directions to get the latest driver, then double-click the driver file to install the device to the PC.