Symptoms of a Failing Wi-Fi Card

By Lita McLeary

A Wi-Fi card is a computer hardware component that allows users to connect to wireless connections. It may come as a PCMCIA card or an internal expansion card installed into a slot in your motherboard. If you have a failing Wi-Fi card, a number of symptoms will tell you that you need to troubleshoot the problem to get the device back into working condition.

Wi-Fi Card Is Not Recognized

When a Wi-Fi card is not recognized by the computer, this is usually related to problems with connectivity. If you are using a PCMCIA Wi-Fi card, unplug it from its slot, plug it back in and make sure that it is securely and properly connected. If you are using an internal Wi-Fi expansion card, you may need to open the computer casing and make sure that the card is properly connected to its slot (see Resource section).

Failure to Detect Wireless Connections

If the Wi-Fi card is recognized but it cannot detect wireless connections, you may need to move your computer nearer to the access point. If you are using a laptop, make sure that the "wireless" feature is turned on. You may need to press a button to enable it. Also make sure that the adapter is enabled in Windows 7. To do this, click "Start" and then "Control Panel." Type "adapter" in the search box and then select "View network connections" under "Network and Sharing Center." Right-click on the "network adapter" icon and select "Enable."

Intermittent Wireless Connections

If you can connect to wireless connections but you often get disconnected or you often encounter problems while you are connected, you may need to update the driver of your device for the Wi-Fi card to function properly. To update your Wi-Fi card driver, click "Start," "Control Panel" and then "System and Security." Click "Device Manager" under "System." Select "Network Adapter" and right-click on the name of the adapter. Select "Properties" and then the "Driver" tab. Click "Update Driver."

Hardware Damage

If the Wi-Fi card does not respond at all, it may already be damaged. Remove the card from its slot (see "Resources" link if using an internal Wi-Fi card) and inspect it for damage. If there is no apparent damage, try using the card on another computer. If it is recognized, there may be a problem with the port the Wi-Fi card was previously plugged into. Try plugging the card into another slot if there are any similar slots available and see if the problem is resolved.