Question from Ronnie M.: Hi Rick. I have a really strange problem that I need help with.
We’ve had Xfinity Internet for years and the Wi-Fi has always worked perfectly until recently.
A couple of weeks ago my Dell laptop started causing our Wi-Fi network to completely shut down every time I turn it on.
The Wi-Fi can be working perfectly on our other computers, on our phones and on the kids’ Xbox, but within 5 minutes after turning on my laptop the Wi-Fi stops working on everything in the house. The devices still show an active connection but we can’t do anything on the Internet.
The crazy thing is I don’t even have to be using the Internet on my computer for this to happen.
In fact, I don’t even have to have a web browser open. It just happens. But the Wi-Fi starts working again on the other devices just as soon as I shut my laptop down.
Do you have any idea what could be causing this? I thought it might be a virus but I have three antivirus programs running on my computer and none of them are finding anything.
Rick’s answer: I have a strong hunch that malware is indeed causing your problem, Ronnie.
You said you have three antivirus programs installed on your laptop, and I’m thinking that’s the root of your problem.
Using more than one antivirus program at a time prevents any of them from doing an effective job at finding and removing malware. (This post has more info on that.)
It sounds to me like your laptop is stealthily being used as part of a botnet or some other malicious scheme that’s causing its wireless adapter to send out a virtually constant dream of data to the Internet.
That would explain why the laptop shuts down your wireless network even when there’s no web browser in use.
In short, I believe ridding your computer of malware will fix your problem.
In most cases where malware is expected I recommend removing the malware by following the steps in this post, but in this case I strongly recommend that you “go nuclear” and completely reset your Windows 10 installation. This post explains how to do that.
You can first try resetting Windows with the option to keep your files and see if that takes care of the problem. If not, that means some of your user files are infected so you’ll probably have to do the reset again and let it wipe everything out so you can start over fresh.
I hope this helps Ronnie. Good luck!
Update from Ronnie: I chose the option to have it reset the PC but keep my files and now the problem is gone.
My wireless adapter wouldn’t work after it finished the reset but I downloaded the driver from the Dell website and everything seems to be working fine now.
Thanks a lot for your help. Now I can stop pulling my hair out!
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