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Wireless Networks Thread, Netgear Weirdness in Technical; Hi folks, We have a piecemeal setup here of standalone Netgear WAPs. About 75% are WG302's, but as a handful ...
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    Gongalong's Avatar
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    Question Netgear Weirdness

    Hi folks,

    We have a piecemeal setup here of standalone Netgear WAPs. About 75% are WG302's, but as a handful have failed in the last year or so we've replaced with WNDAP350's. The latter have been configured with the same (WEP) key, but it has become apparent that most if not all laptops are just not connecting to them.

    I've talked to Netgear support briefly and their suggestions so far are to ensure the latest firmware is on, reset to defaults, and reconfigure. They also suggested testing with no security and WPA2. I've carried out the firmware upgrades and resets, and tried running with no security, the WAPs then seem stable, but obviously it's not a solution.

    Going forward I can try WPA2, and if it works then configure the WNDAP350's with a different SSID. Obviously it's a pain to run a two tier network, but I don't see what else I can do.

    Anyone have any ideas or come across this problem with Netgear WAPs?

    (Long term we're going to replace with managed wireless, but budget-wise that's 2-3 years away.)

    TIA

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    There is one old bugbear I come across with most laptops. They often ship with American Wi-Fi cards that can only use channels 1-11. Most APs though dutifully use 1-13. Invariably the APs auto pick channel 13 as it's normally clear of traffic. Doh!

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    These APs are all configured for UK settings, and are definitely only using 1-11 - I've been using the excellent inSSIDer to do some testing throughout the school.

    InSSIDer is showing that laptops sometime connect to the 350's then switch to the 302's even though in some cases the signal strength is much much lower. Often though they don't connect to the 350's at all. Part of the problem is the inconsistent behaviour, but mostly the 350's just aren't used.

    I've just fired up an Android tablet (Nexus 7) with inSSIDer and that immediately connected to the 350 without issue, so is this a Windows problem? I've tested with a mix of laptops, and have updated all the wireless drivers. The laptops have a mix of chipsets also e.g. Atheros and Intel (the latter usually being fairly bombproof).

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    Windows laptops will jump to an AP with a weaker signal if it is offering a higher encryption. All mine still use WPA but the other day I configured one to WPA2 by accident and it caused laptops from about 300 foot away to try and connect to it!

    Also if you connected a laptop to your SSID using WPA2 AP and then only offer WPA it'll refuse to connect to it and will seek out a WPA2 AP.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gongalong View Post
    Hi folks,

    We have a piecemeal setup here of standalone Netgear WAPs. About 75% are WG302's, but as a handful have failed in the last year or so we've replaced with WNDAP350's. The latter have been configured with the same (WEP) key, but it has become apparent that most if not all laptops are just not connecting to them.

    I've talked to Netgear support briefly and their suggestions so far are to ensure the latest firmware is on, reset to defaults, and reconfigure. They also suggested testing with no security and WPA2. I've carried out the firmware upgrades and resets, and tried running with no security, the WAPs then seem stable, but obviously it's not a solution.

    Going forward I can try WPA2, and if it works then configure the WNDAP350's with a different SSID. Obviously it's a pain to run a two tier network, but I don't see what else I can do.

    Anyone have any ideas or come across this problem with Netgear WAPs?

    (Long term we're going to replace with managed wireless, but budget-wise that's 2-3 years away.)

    TIA
    Firstly I would seriously advise you move away from WEP and deploy WPA2-PSK AES as this is considerably more secure. If you have Win 7 clients you can easily deploy wireless settings using the netsh wlan command (google it).

    Other things I can suggest are using the latest wireless drivers for your wireless devices. They can make all the difference. I suppose another possibility is the Netgear is faulty. They do get tired after a number of years I've found with some brands.

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    Quote Originally Posted by chazzy2501 View Post
    Windows laptops will jump to an AP with a weaker signal if it is offering a higher encryption. All mine still use WPA but the other day I configured one to WPA2 by accident and it caused laptops from about 300 foot away to try and connect to it!
    Both models are using an identical WEP key (and strength of WEP) but perhaps there's something about this older model than Windows prefers. It's odd that the Android tablet is behaving "normally" whereas Windows isn't, which does point the finger more towards Windows.
    Quote Originally Posted by Michael View Post
    Firstly I would seriously advise you move away from WEP and deploy WPA2-PSK AES as this is considerably more secure. If you have Win 7 clients you can easily deploy wireless settings using the netsh wlan command (google it).
    I inherited the setup, but I suspect they've used WEP because we still have a handful of very old laptops and I know that very old drivers just can't cope with WPA. When we upgrade the whole setup we'll switch to WPA2.
    Quote Originally Posted by Michael View Post
    Other things I can suggest are using the latest wireless drivers for your wireless devices.
    This was done for Atheros. The Intel drivers were Feb 2012 so I've just updated those to the latest (Apr 2013) on the test machines.
    Quote Originally Posted by Michael View Post
    I suppose another possibility is the Netgear is faulty.
    Although for all 6 new Netgear's to be faulty? Seems odd.

    To add, before I did the upgrade of the 350's even my iPhone wouldn't connect to it. Now it seems both my iPhone and the Android tablet are connected to a 350, yet still problems with Windows PCs.

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    i have some netgear aps in a school and i had to downgrade the firmware as the latest (at the time) ios update for ipad meant they could no longer connect. You can iirc on netgears set up multiple ssids's so in theory you could script out a new wpa2 key to laptops that can cope and just have the older ones connected on a wep ssid

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    Have a look at the AP350 logs to see what the AP are doing when laptop? are you getting a lot of associated and disassociated with same laptop? Also look to see if there are any Rogue AP?

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    We got about 30+ AP360 in school and had no end of problems with them for about 6 months.... We have just got a lot of new Ruckus AP's and a controller so bye bye Netgear AP's.

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    I agree that for XP you need SP3 installed for it to support WPA2-PSK, but anything newer should support it out the box.

    I'd suggest you do as @sted suggested, create a second SSID, make it WPA2-PSK AES on each of the Access Points, then start attempting to connect machines to this new SSID either via script or manually.

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    we have the same problem

    even though the 302's are closer the laptops try and connect to the newer ap because they are wireless n and in theory the fastest connection.

    i am going to remove all our 302s this summer because of this or move them all to one location in the school.


    its a pain in the rear.

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    Now that I've looked at the Netgear WG302 online, I have come across these before (last year in fact) and they were pants. They went straight in the bin at the one school

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    Quote Originally Posted by sted View Post
    You can iirc on netgears set up multiple ssids's so in theory you could script out a new wpa2 key to laptops that can cope and just have the older ones connected on a wep ssid
    Yes, on the 350's it's up to 8 SSIDs. Good idea! Potential downside I guess is that the laptops might see this AP when a stronger WEP encrypted AP is nearer and default to the 350. Worth a try though.
    Quote Originally Posted by w-clarke101 View Post
    Have a look at the AP350 logs to see what the AP are doing when laptop? are you getting a lot of associated and disassociated with same laptop? Also look to see if there are any Rogue AP?
    I'm struggling a bit with the 350 logs. It has a Syslog capability so I probably need to investigate that. Annoyingly I can't find something like a client list, so it's hard to easily tell who is connected.
    Quote Originally Posted by round2it View Post
    even though the 302's are closer the laptops try and connect to the newer ap because they are wireless n and in theory the fastest connection.
    We have the reverse problem, all the laptops try to connect to the 302's instead of the 350's.

    I've done some more experimenting and upgrading of drivers. After all that was done to the 350's I didn't hard reset them - in part because a lot of them are located out of reach (of students). I did hard reset one of them though and it seemed to stabilise. Again it will require lots more testing, and roaming back and forth between APs to see if they are stable.

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    Quote Originally Posted by w-clarke101 View Post
    We got about 30+ AP360 in school and had no end of problems with them for about 6 months.... We have just got a lot of new Ruckus AP's and a controller so bye bye Netgear AP's.
    Is the Ruckus system working yet? Would be interested to hear feedback.

    Unfortunately this is an inherited setup. I find both Netgear and D-Link kit to be less than brilliant, so this may ultimately be the problem.
    Quote Originally Posted by Michael View Post
    Now that I've looked at the Netgear WG302 online, I have come across these before (last year in fact) and they were pants. They went straight in the bin at the one school
    These are pretty old. I'm not sure when they were sold, but at a guess the ones we have are 6-7 years old.

    Really the whole lot needs to be chucked out and replaced with a managed system, but no budget for the next couple of years.

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    Get some standalone HP V-M200's. They're a lot cheaper these days

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