A recurring frustration chez Tosh is the Wifi, provided by Apple’s Airport kit. It seems this is one area where Apple simply hasn’t cracked ease of use even for someone who, like me, has been using it since version 1. It’s tricky to set up, and it just breaks sometimes, for no obvious reason.
But – today – a breakthrough, after days of frustration, which I share here for the benefit of my regular reader and those irregular ones who pop in via the Google.
If you’re not struggling with your wifi setup, don’t read the rest of this; life’s too short. If you are struggling with your wifi network, do read this… it might have the bit of information you need, and life’s too short to mess around with these things for too long.
To explain: we use ADSL, and the telephone line enters the house in our living room,
where there’s a modem connected by Ethernet cable to an Airport
Express base station.
My main computer in the house lives in my study, which is a floor above
and to the back of the house. This isn’t an enormous house, really – it
just has some thick walls, so a second Apple Airport Express unit, living just the other side of that thick wall in the study, is
needed to bring the Wifi through with sufficient strength for my desktop computer.
Normally, this arrangement works fine; Wifi through the house, good
speeds and no problems despite a lot of Wifi users in the houses
nearby. But, for no clear reason, occasionally it all stops working.
You can run up and down stairs restarting things (and sometimes that
works) but often it doesn’t.
Why? Who knows. You just want to get things going again. And, having wasted quite a lot of time trying to resurrect things of late, I’d like to help you avoid losing hours you’ll never get back. Here are five quick suggestions…
1/ Just hit reset
You could use Apple’s Airport Admin Utility to inspect things and
try to tweak your Apple base stations back to health. I wouldn’t bother. Instead, reset your Airports -
on Airport Express they’re the little grey buttons handily placed on
the underside of the unit, which is impossible to turn upside down
unless you unplug the whole unit. For the reset to work, however, you
need to keep it plugged in, so either climb under it so you can see the
tiny button (you’ll need a pin or thin-nibbed pen to poke it) or
temporarily relocate it to a bar socket so you can easily press it in. The light will flash after a few seconds – that’s it reset. Now you can either get up off the floor, or
put the unit back in its normal location.
2/ Airport Admin Utility vs Airport Setup Assistant
Use Airport Setup Assistant to get
things going again – it’s more friendly than the Airport Admin Utility. When you load that up, first do the setup work on your primary Airport -
the one your modem plugs into (you might want to turn off any other Airport Express units you have, so it’s easy to spot the right one to work with). Just follow the menus – this should be
simple. But make sure your modem is plugged in, and turned on…
3/ Moving on to the remote base station…
Then, you need to set up the remote Airport base station to extend
the network’s range. To do this, first switch it on.
4/ Sit between the base stations…
Then you’ll need to do the work of setting
it up (again, using Airport Setup Assistant) within range of both the main base station (the one you’ve just got going) and
the base station you’re wanting to get going. In my case, it meant
sitting on the stairs between the two Airports. Otherwise, I discovered, you’ll
struggle to get a connection with the main base station, which is
something your computer needs to do during the setup process.
5/ Be careful what you ask for
When using Airport Setup Assistant to sort out the remote base stations, be sure to specify that you want the remote Airport base stations -
the ones extending the network out – to join an existing network,
and that they’re extending the range – not just playing music or
allowing access to the printer.