February 2, 2010

534 words 3 mins read

Lose your wireless adapter? Check the BIOS

As you may or may not know, Windows 7 RC is coming to an end. This isn’t unexpected (presuming you remembered to read this at some point), but it is a problem. So with that in mind, I decided it was time to install the actual version of Windows 7.

Since Jon was up and harassing me, I handed it to him while I was working on other things. He delivered it back a little while later and I started Windows Update (one of the Optional Items I selected was Atheros 5007EG Wireless Network Adapter). Things were going fine until the screen went black.

At first I figured it was just the power settings turning off the monitor, so I just ran my finger over the mouse pad to remind the computer it wasn’t really idle/being ignored. Unfortunately, that didn’t solve the problem. I tapped Ctrl a few times (unlike the space bar, that won’t agree to whatever message box might be being shown on the dark screen), still no luck. I left it alone for 10-15 minutes and when it still didn’t come back, I tried other button combinations (Fn + F4 to toggle the Wireless; Hibernate; Suspend; Shutting the Lid) all to no avail.

When the computer came back on, I went back into Windows Update and selected the same items as before and clicked install. Unnoticed by me at the time, the Wireless was off. It just installed those items it had downloaded previously. After it finished, I tried to go online, but noticed that it wouldn’t. Then I pressed Fn + F4 again to turn on the Wireless Adapter, but it did not come on… enter troubleshooting mode. Device doesn’t show up in Device Manager (which you get to via Right-Click My Computer; Click Manage; Click Devices in the popup), however an “Unknown Device” was listed. I recalled that the update it had been downloading was Atheros 5007EG Wireless Adapter and manually select that as the driver. Windows warns that it cannot confirm that that driver is for that device, I tell it to go ahead anyway, and it still doesn’t work. It said “cannot start device” and “Error code: 10”. I google on a working computer, and grab a network cable to connect it manually.

Try various things, eventually need to do other things, so I give up and decide I’ll reinstall Windows when I get home later (since I have nothing on the machine yet). I boot up, then using my external DVD drive attempt the install… and still have the problem. I reboot and open up the BIOS menu, as I’m going to select the Boot Order (to tell it to boot from the DVD so that I can format the drive and then do a fresh install), I notice that the Wireless Adapter is Disabled. I change this to Enabled. F10 to Save and Exit. Boot back to Windows and woohoo I have Wifi!

So, the moral of the story is… if your computer screen goes black and you get no response, don’t turn the Wireless off, just hard boot it. If you do turn it off, you might need to reenable it in the BIOS.