Q: My desktop, which has Windows 10, intermittently doesn’t connect, via Wi-Fi, to the internet. We have a new CenturyLink router. I’m usually able to force the connection through the Network Settings. I’ve tried rebooting and sometimes that works. Recently, though, it doesn’t connect at all, no matter how many times I reboot or try to connect via the network settings. I keep clicking the Connect Automatically box, but that doesn’t work. Your most recent column in The Seattle Times mentions updating the drivers but I don’t see anything in the device manager. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
— Henry Burton
A: When internet connections over Wi-Fi are intermittent there are three main things to look into … and they’re related to each other. Those three things are: the distance between the computer in question and the Wi-Fi router, whether there are obstacles to Wi-Fi signals between the computer and the router, and the Wi-Fi standards supported by the router and the computer, respectively.
Those factors are all interrelated because the Wi-Fi range and speed depend on the standards supported. As you would expect, the more recent standards offer greater range and speed. But range and speed will be limited to the standard supported by the oldest device. That is, if your router has the latest and greatest Wi-Fi standard — 802.11ax or Wi-Fi 6 — but your client device only supports an older standard, performance will be limited to that older standard.
Oh, and if you’re looking for obstacles that can disrupt Wi-Fi signals the main ones are the numbers of walls and floors between the devices, especially if those structural elements contain metal. Other culprits are nearby devices that emit radio signals, such as microwave ovens and televisions.
Q: Even though I use a Mac, I usually read your column to see what I can learn. So, I thought I’d take a chance that you might have a clue what is going on here.
I’ve been using the Excel spreadsheet program to design the rugs I plan to weave. Basically, I set up a grid and color in the squares with approximations of the yarn colors I plan to use. It’s clunky and tedious, but it works. Until yesterday. When I clicked on a design file I got a message saying the file could not be found.
I tried to open a number of other spreadsheets and I get the same message. I haven’t added any new applications or programs to the computer. Since this leaves me with hundreds of designs I can’t view, I am a little freaked out.
Here’s what I am wondering. My Microsoft Office bundle is about 10 years old. The Mac is using Sierra 10.12.6. I had read something (probably in your column) about the problem with 64-bit systems not reading files that were created using 32-bit systems. I think the older Excel program I am using is 32-bit, so I didn’t want to risk not being able to open my designs. Yet, here I am. Do you think this is what is going on?
Would installing a newer version of Office solve my problem? Would it be able to read the older files? Would I still be able to store files made with that program on my computer or an external drive or does it automatically put things up in the cloud? I prefer not to use the cloud at all, if possible.
— Chuck Eberdt, Bellingham
A: I’m afraid your problem probably can’t be solved without some hands-on troubleshooting. The cause could be corruption on the hard drive, a virus or other malware.
But I can dispel some misunderstandings. First, programs running under 64-bit operating systems can open files created with 32-bit programs.
Next, will installing a newer version of Office solve your problem? Probably not, but it’s possible. Years ago, Microsoft noted a problem with the 2007 and 2011 versions of the programs that resulted in the “file not found” message. The recommended fix was to install the latest updates to the program.
Its also possible that disc corruption may be affecting your installation of Excel. The older your computer is the more likely that’s possible. If that’s the case simply reinstalling your current version would fix the problem. Of course, you’ll want to repair the drive first using the Terminal utility.
Next, I don’t know of any programs that automatically save only to the cloud, so you’re good there. In fact, you wouldn’t want to work directly on files stored in the cloud because then the performance of the program you’re using would be dependent on the speed of your internet connection. But I do recommend backing up files to a cloud storage provider. That way you always have a backup off-site, and if your location is flooded or goes up in flames your data is safe.
Finally, if you still can’t access those files and if you don’t have a backup I’d take your computer into a repair shop to see if they can retrieve them.