Steps for fixing wireless router


Plugged In


I work on an IBM PC, and my husband works on a Dell laptop via a wireless Internet connection. Both use a Linksys 2.4 gHz (802.11b) wireless broadband router for Web access. We connect to the Internet via a cable modem, and our Internet service provider is AOL.

He has gotten messages that his signal strength is going from good to low to excellent to low, all in a matter of seconds. He is unable to connect to his office e-mail server, download files or navigate through AOL when this is happening. Occasionally, we both get kicked off for no apparent reason. When I restart, I get a message that the router is unavailable, and I must then reset the router. Can you think of what the reason might be?

- Leslie Hickerson, Kissimmee, Fla.

There are two prime suspects for this kind of consternation, Ms. H. One suspect is something else that could be broadcasting radio waves at or close to the 2.4 gigahertz used by most wireless routers, which connect to hard-wired modems from DSL suppliers and cable television companies offering Internet access.

The second and most likely possibility is that you're not going far enough when it comes to resetting your router. This tactic works a lot of times and has become a fairly well-known fix. But sometimes more is needed.

So, first of all, you need to not just shut down the power from that Linksys router, but also to disconnect both the power to the modem and the actual coaxial wire that comes into the house with the Internet. Leave them all disconnected for a couple of minutes in order to ensure that their internal memories have lost all of the identifications for your home network and for the Internet provider.

Then reconnect the cable modem and plug in the power. Wait a tad while the device's lights flash as it restores its Web contact and identifies itself for the ISP with a new set of numbers. Then restore power to the router.

The router will reach out to your computers and assign each a new address to correspond to the new numbers given to the cable modem, and you'll both be back online.

Less likely but not impossible would be some source of signals in the 2.4 gHz range in your house or outside. Prime culprits can be home-based wireless telephones and microwave ovens and other routers operated by close neighbors. Routers use different channels to avoid stepping on one another's signals, but you can't totally rule out this potential interference source.

I'd suggest trying tinfoil to wrap the router to stop it from mixing outside noise with the stuff it generates.

A program called "Pest Trap" got itself installed on my computer while I was surfing the Net. I tried to remove this nuisance program by using Add/Remove Programs, but it does not work and gives me a message that I must first exit "Pest Trap." How should I proceed?

- Dinesh

PestTrap ( is a seller of products that the reputable McAfee antivirus company calls a PUP (potentially unwanted program). PestTrap claims on its Web site that the Add/Remove software control panel will remove all traces of its program. So you have two options.

First, consider reloading the program to get the annoyance back to its original state and then return to Add/Remove Software. Reloading a program that won't remove often restores missing bits of code that are lost over time that are needed for the uninstallation.

Or you might consider and use one of the PestTrap removal programs offered by other companies. Enigma Software Group offers both its own program that will remove PestTrap from a computer and a set of instructions for manually exorcising this demon by removing things like certain DLL and EXE programs scattered about the machine. You can find it all at

Jim Coates writes for the Chicago Tribune. Contact him by mail at the Chicago Tribune, Room 400, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago 60611.

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