There are a number of problems that can lead to devices dropping off a Connectify hotspot. This may mean that the hotspot itself is having some kind of trouble, but it can just as easily mean that your devices are just not able to “hear’ the hotspot. That’s particularly likely if, all of a sudden, you start to have problems where you never did before.
Radio Fading and Interference
Wi-Fi is by its nature a two-way radio, and just as with an FM radio or a cellular phone call, signals can fade or be drowned out by something else. Imagine you and a friend travel to Citizen’s Bank Park, and get to hang out on the ball-field for while. You stand at home plate, your buddy starts walking toward the outfield. You have to shout louder as your buddy moves away, he’s got to shout louder back at you. Eventually, you can’t hear each other. Wi-Fi devices have the same problem. Your PC makes a decent Wi-Fi router; most can transmit at 100mW or so, which was a pretty standard power level for a dedicated router, at least a few years back. But the PC’s antennas may not be as good as a dedicated router’s, or it may have fewer. So if you’re dropping signals a few rooms away from your PC, that’s just normal. Your device can’t yell loud enough for your PC to hear it.
There are no natural sources of radio noise in the Wi-Fi band, but there’s lots of man-made stuff. If you have a microwave oven in the house, it’s using the same 2400MHz band as your Wi-Fi, and might cause interference. Some kind of cordless phones, game consoles (particularly the X-Box 360), some television video senders, etc. all use this band, because unlike most radio bands, it doesn’t require a license. And the most likely of all: other Wi-Fi devices can interfere with your Connectify Hotspot.
The Wi-Fi Channel Conundrum
This is a graph drawn by the Wifi Analyzer app for Android, this is the picture here at my desk at the Connectify offices; my hotspot is “TheDude!” While there are 14 channels shown (channel 14 isn’t used in the USA), each Wi-Fi device actually consumes five channels. You see hotspots clustered around channels 1, 6, and 11, because these are the three totally clear channels in the band.
With that said, the Wi-Fi protocols are very clever, and immune to some interference. My phone here has absolutely no problem connecting to “TheDude!” at my desk, even with all those other hotspots also on channel 11. However, if I decided I wanted to connect to the “Connectify” hotspot instead, I might have trouble. And forget about connecting to the rug shop’s hotspot.
You might be using your PC as a hotspot for months, then all of a sudden you have a powerful hotspot from next door drowning out the signal between your PC and your other devices. Some more modern dedicated routers can put out 250-500mW of power, which can mean that they seem much louder to some of your devices than your PC might, depending on conditions. That can lead to devices that start connected, but drop off and might not reconnect very easily.
We don’t currently have a way to change the Wi-Fi channel from within Connectify. Some of this is the history of Connectify and Windows. Until Windows 7, Windows always considered Wi-Fi as something you connect to… it never had much to consider about the channel to use, except in the rare case of Ad-Hoc networks. Windows always starts with the last Wi-Fi channel used, and that’s no different when creating a Connectify hotspot… Connectify is going to use the Windows default channel, which you can’t directly set.
A very useful tool to have when trying to avoid WiFi interference is a scanning tool, like the Wifi Analyzer shown above. It visualizes which channels are being used and how loud/powerful they are in your location. You want to select a channel which has the least users/devices and lowest power level/volume. The next time you start up Connectify, it’ll use that new default channel.
And finally, there’s the human engineering solution. If that neighbor just put in a big, loud hotspot that’s drowning out your Connectify hotspot, see if you can get them to change their channel. Maybe bring beers or a bottle of wine over.
Power Management 1, Hotspot 0
The next cause of odd device disconnects is power management. If you’re running an older version of Connectify, get the very latest available. Connectify has some ways of at least suggesting to a Wi-Fi device that it doesn’t power off when it thinks it’s not needed. But some don’t necessarily listen that well. If you see a pretty regular time, like 15 minutes or a half-hour of great Connectify functionality, then things just stop working, that could be your tablet or phone going to sleep, but it could also be your PC’s Wi-Fi card.
Along with the latest release of Connectify, you can adjust power management on your PC. Many Wi-Fi drivers have their own setting, which you get to via the Device Manager, just as before. This is usually a check mark: if your driver has an “Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power” option, make sure it’s not checked.
That Old Rusty Driver
Another possible cause of your devices falling off the Connectify network is simply the Connectify hotspot coming down. If it’s a Connectify internal problem or something else that Connectify can detect, this is going to show up as a pop-up notification of some kind on your PC. So if a bunch of devices all drop off at the same time, first thing to do is check the PC for any sign that Connectify itself knows about a problem.
We recommend anyone having mysterious connection losses to follow the other suggestions here, but also to update their drivers. We have an article on here: Updating Your Wireless Drivers. We also have a list of known-good and known-problem devices, including links to some of the driver updates in the article Is My Wi-Fi Card Supported?
Hope we helped!
- The Connectify Team