Tuesday, March 20, 2007

At Wit's End with Wii Wireless

A couple of weeks ago, I snagged a Nintendo Wii on a Sunday morning from a Target in my area that had gotten a shipment during the week and had released them for sale as their new ad flyer featuring the Wii came out that Sunday.

As I've previously posted, I have a Linksys BEFW11S4 wireless router, hardware revision version 4.

When I initially set up the Wii for wireless connectivity with the router, it worked like a charm. I was able to connect, and the various online functionality -- the store, news, weather, web browsing, and the "Everybody Votes" application -- all worked just fine.

However, the next day, the Wii reported that it was unable to connect to the Internet. I reset the router (by disconnecting it from wall power for a couple of seconds and then plugging it back in), and the Wii was once again able to connect successfully.

I knew to try resetting the router because I recognized the behavior as the same as what my TiVo has been exhibiting -- the TiVo will work normally for about a week, but then report that TV program data is low because it hasn't been able to successfully connect to the server, and I'll need to reset the router to get it to connect successfully again.

This problem hadn't been terribly annoying when just the TiVo was affected, since it wasn't too bad to just briefly pull the plug on the router once a week or so (since the TiVo is able to get TV program data for about a week in advance each time it connects). With the Wii, though, it will usually only go about half a day or so before it will lose the wireless connection and be unable to reconnect; this means that pretty much any time I want to use any of the online functionality of the Wii, I need to run upstairs to my office and pull the plug on the router first. And even then, the Wii takes longer than it should to display the news, since it didn't have a chance to download it in the background earlier while the system was idle via the "WiiConnect24" feature, and instead needs to download it on-the-fly. Annoying!

My desktop PCs, which are connected to the router via wired connections, aren't affected by this issue. Further, although I use my PDA's wireless connection functionality at home only infrequently, I've also never observed it be affected by the issue; the PDA seems to be able to connect with no trouble, even at times when the Wii won't connect.

The problem does seem to be with the router as opposed to with the Wii, since the TiVo is affected by the same problem.

It's a frustrating problem to troubleshoot, since each time I change a setting on my router to try and address the problem, I need to wait at least half a day before the Wii's connection will fail again (and thus establish that the attempted fix didn't work).

I've tried the following steps so far to fix the problem, one at a time; none have been successful so far:

  • Assigned the Wii a fixed IP address (and DHCP server IPs) rather than having it pick up an IP via DHCP.
  • Changed the broadcast channel of the router. (Tried channels 1, 2, 6, and 11).
  • Disabled the WEP security on the router. (Turned it back on afterwards after this didn't help.)
  • Disabled restriction of clients permitted to connect based on the client MAC address. (Re-enabled this after it didn't help.)
  • Reverted the firmware from 1.52.02 (the latest version) back to 1.50.14, after reading online about people having (unrelated) problems with the 1.52.02 firmware.
  • Changed the router's "Internet Connection Type" setting from "Connect on Demand" to "Keep Alive", thinking that maybe if my router's DHCP IP address lease from my ISP had expired, then the wireless connection from the Wii wasn't for whatever reason triggering the router to request a new IP, and that this setting change might trigger the router to always make sure that it had a current IP.
Unfortunately, none of these attempted solutions have had any impact on the problematic behavior. (After I applied the firmware version downgrade, I thought that might have done the trick since the Wii behaved itself for a little over a day after that, but the problem subsequently returned, just as before.)

I also haven't been able to find anything about this specific problem by searching around online. I've seen lots of posts about problems where people can't get the wireless connection to work at all, or where specific areas of functionality (like the online store) won't work, but no posts about this type of problem where the connection just seems to expire or time out after several hours.

At this point I feel like my best option to address the problem is to just pick up a new router, but I hesitate to throw $50 at the problem to fix it, since it really is just an annoyance.

If anyone knows of a fix for this issue, or even just has a suggestion for something else to try that might fix the problem, by all means please let me know! I'll update this post if I ever do come up with a solution for this issue.

Update 5/4/2007: Everything is working once again now! The Wii and the Tivo are now able to connect to the Internet over the wireless connection on a daily basis with no problem. So what did I change?

Nothing!... except that I left the BEFW11S4 router powered off for about 9 days straight while my family and I were away from home on vacation! When I returned and powered the router back up, everything started working fine. Prior to that, I had always had the router plugged in around the clock (except when I'd unplug it for a few seconds at a time to get the Wii and Tivo connectivity temporarily working again).

So if you're having this problem and have tried everything else, you could try unplugging your router for a while, perhaps overnight, or longer if you can get away with it. I'm not sure why this solution worked in my case -- maybe some hardware component in the router had overheated and needed some time unplugged to cool down? -- but I'm happy that things are working once again!

6 comments:

  1. I wanted to find out if you were still having problems with your wii and router.

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  2. I just this past week picked up a new wireless router, a TRENDNet 54Mbps 802.11g (TEW432BRP), when CompUSA had them on sale for US $5 shipped, after rebate.

    I had a problem at first when I set it up for WEP security (to match the security I had set up on my old Linksys router). With that setup, my PC and laptop could see and get on the wireless network with no problem, but the Wii and my Tivo couldn't see the network at all. (They both had been working fine with the WEP security on the Linksys router previously.) I turned off security, at which point the Wii and Tivo found the network with no problem. My next step will be to turn on WPA security and see if the Wii and Tivo will work with that.

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  3. I'm having exactly the same problem with my Wii and Linksys BEFW11S4. I had compiled a list of things to try from forums that resembled your list, so I'm glad I found your post before I tried all those things that didn't fix it.

    I only tend to turn the router on when I'm using it, so it's not on for most of the day yet I still have problems. That makes me suspect that your theory about a component cooling down is not the issue (at least with my router). I have noticed however that when it's hot in the room where the router is, it does have connection problems (only wirelessly though), but - as crazy as it sounds - opening a window usually solves them.

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  4. I never did end up getting the TEW432BRP to work the way I wanted it to with security enabled, so I'm currently back using the BEFW11S4 again. The Wii's wireless functionality still works only intermittently, but since the other wireless devices that are in the same room with the Wii are all working fine, I'm just pretty much dealing with it at this point!

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  5. The Wii is the problem IMO. I'm watching the syslog of my HyperWRT modded Linksys router and it re-requests DHCP despite having multi-day leases by the DHCP server. I suspect in your case that the Wii with its wildly excessive DHCP requests eventually puts your router into an unstable state and perhaps affecting your other devices? Google for Wii and DHCP requests and you'll find others with this problem.

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  6. I a similar problem with my Wii failing to get DHCP configuration. Everything was working fine the first days, but after months, it begans to give me issue.
    I thought the problem was due to WPA+TKIP/AES configuration but even with no Wireless security set and no Firewall rule, I was unable to establish a connexion with the Wii
    I fixed the problem by setting the ip configuration mannually.
    IP address, subnet mask and Default gateway.
    You have to pay attention to the DNS settings. Some routers act as DNS server and then you can set the DNS field to the router's IP address. However, some routers act as DNS relay and then , setting the DNS to the router's IP will fail. In this case, you should set the ISP DNS servers manually.

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