I love my MacBook and haven’t had very many major issues for the better part of 3 years. Unfortunately, that is not the case with all MacBook owners. Since I do a lot of technical support, I’ve run into a ton of people with MacBook Pro’s that simply lose the wireless connection randomly. It’s been an issue for years and still really hasn’t gone away.
And since it’s such a complicated issue, there are all kinds of different things you can try to fix your specific problem. In this article, I’m going to try and list out every fix I’ve ever used or read about and hopefully something will fix your problem.
If you suffered through this problem and found a possible solution not listed here, definitely post it in the comments for everyone else to read. The solutions are in no particular order, just the order in which I happen to read them while going through my notes. Sorry it they seem a little random.
Method 1 – Airport Express/Airport Extreme
- If you’re using either one of these devices and you’re having problems, it could be that you need to upgrade to a newer model. I saw this problem with several clients and in the end, some were using routers that were several years old.
- Another issue that cropped up with the Airport devices is something called bridge mode. Research a little and try to switch to bridge mode if you’re not using it and off bridge mode if you are currently using it. Don’t really know the details, but it has fixed the issue for some folks.
- Other people have said that they switched from other brand wireless routers to Apple’s and the problem went away.
Method 2 – Channel Interference
This problem is one of the hardest to detect because it has nothing to do with your computer or hardware. If you live in a neighborhood or apartment complex with other wireless networks around, you really need to understand that there could be interference on the 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz networks as many newer routers broadcast on both.
One way to fix this that I have told my clients is to download this WiFi Scanner app:
It’s not free ($5), but super super useful. Basically, it will show you all the networks around you, including your neighbors. Then it will tell you the channels that they are using. You can then go into your router and change your channel to something that is not interfering with the neighbors.
I can attest to this because I have had this problem at my own house. We used to live with no one around us, but when new neighbors moved it, all of a sudden I started having network connectivity problems. The connection would drop and I would have to restart my router often. Changing the channel fixed all of my issues.
Method 3 – Router Security Settings
Another big one was security settings on the router. Not sure why, but WPA2 with AES encryption can causes problems with certain MacBook Pro’s. The best way to figure out if this is causing problems is to simply turn off all security on your router and then restart your MacBook Pro and see if your connection keeps dropping or not. I would also suggest removing other security like MAC Address Filtering and hiding your SSID.
If the issue goes away, then you can try a few things. First, update the firmware on your router to the latest and try the security settings again.
Method 4 – Update Mac OS
On your MacBook Pro, if you’re running an older version of the OS like Leopard or Snow Leopard, try updating to the latest Lion. Sometimes the bug fixes in the newer releases will fix this issue.
Method 5 – Faulty Wireless Card
Though not as common, you may simply have a faulty wireless card on your Mac. Considering how many machines there are, some are bound to come with faulty hardware and you might just be the unlucky one to have one of those machines. The best thing to do if nothing else is working is to take it into an Apple retail store and ask the Genius bar to look at it.
If they believe it is hardware, then if you are still under warranty, you’ll get it replaced for free. If you have to pay, then you can order the part on eBay and do it yourself. Or you can just spend the $50 to $100 and get it fixed by Apple.
Method 5 – Delete plist Files
Some have had luck with deleting some of the preference files related to Airport and Networking. In case something has become corrupt, deleting these might fix the problem. They will be recreated automatically when you start your computer.
These are located in Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration.
Method 6 – Hard/Full Erase
One of the other things you can do is take your MacBook Pro to an Apple Retail store and tell them to do a hard/full erase and reload of Lion. This takes about 15 minutes and really erases your hard drive. When you do it yourself, the hard drive is not fully erased. They have a way to completely erase it and it seems to have fixed the problem for a decent number of people.
Method 7 – Try a New User Account
Just like profiles in Windows becomes corrupted sometimes, the same is true for OS X. Go ahead and create a new account and log into that account. Then try connecting to the wireless network and see how long it stays connected. If your problem is gone, then you know there is something wrong with your normal user account. You’ll probably have to switch accounts to solve this issue permanently.
Method 8 – Uninstall Software
After seeing this issue for so long, it’s fairly clear that unless you have some bad hardware, the issue is caused by some software issue, either the OS or some third-party interference. Users have reported that they can connect to a wireless network from their Mac running Windows via bootcamp just fine, but when they switch to OS X, they connection drops.
If you’re running Lion and you know it’s not a hardware problem, try removing any unnecessary software that could be interfering. For example, anti-virus apps or scanning apps or networking monitoring apps, etc. Clear out your system one by one and see if the problem goes away. Not an ideal solution, but better than nothing.
Method 9 – Static IP Address
Though not a common solution, some people have reported that changing over to a static IP address has fixed the problem. Probably not a long term solution, but it may let you work on the Internet for a few days!
Method 10 – Clear Out Preferred Networks
Go to System Preferences, Network, Advanced and Airport and minus out everything under preferred networks. Of course, not everyone will have this option, but if you do, then give it a try. Sometimes if you have a bunch of networks stored there, the problem can occur.
Method 11 – Create a New Location
Go to System Preferences, Network, click on the Location drop down at the top and choose Edit Locations. Add a new location and give it any name you want.
Method 12 – Lower Wireless Speed
If you have an N router, try dropping down to B/G and see if the problem persists. Again, the problem is so random and the fixes that have worked for some are also very random!
I’m sure there are a ton more solutions people have come up with over the years, so feel free to throw in your comments and let us know what worked for you! Enjoy!