Checked and confirmed.

Q. I have a Toshiba S50 laptop running Windows 8.1 with an Atheros AR956x wireless network adapter, however the connection keeps dropping. I’ve looked for new drivers but apparently I have the latest available. I keep having to disable the network adapter and then re-enable it to restore my connection. This seems to be happening more and more frequently. What can I do?

A. I have seen a number of posts on this issue on a variety of websites. On some sites like the Toshiba website there is a fair amount of active discussion, some comments are pure speculation and some that seem to offer reasonable advice but no actual links to anywhere.

Along my journey to solve this issue I came across 2 websites in particular 1 of which supposedly offered ‘unofficial drivers’ none of which could be downloaded without causing an error page and the second of which provided Atheros AR956x driver downloads which according to HitmanPro 3.7 (a ‘second opinion’ virus scanner) contained a virus and immediately halted the installation.

My laptop has only recently become unstable and I suspect it is because of primarily 2 reasons. 1 Not keeping my Windows 8.1 completely up-to-date. And secondly I believe the driver for my network card had become unstable. Whether these two are mutually coincidental I have no idea.

What we do here is I feel the safest and most secure way of correcting this irritating problem without using any unofficial websites. What we are going to do is remove all traces of the current wireless driver as well as any earlier releases. Once they have all been removed, connecting through a standard network cable directly into your router, download the latest Windows Updates for your OS and also download the most recent and stable driver for the Atheros directly from Microsoft. You will also need your Routers Wireless Password as once you have installed the new driver you will need to re-connect to your network.

I have done exactly this earlier this morning and both my system and wireless network card have been rock steady since. If any further issues transpire I will of coarse immediately amend this post.

*EDIT. It’s been 20 hours and I’ve just had to disable and then re-enable my network adaptor as it lost it’s connection again.*

Out with the Old and In with the New.

Removing ALL the wireless drivers, the one currently used and any previous releases you will need to go to Device Manager, right click on the Qualcomm Atheros 956x Wireless Network Adapter and click ‘Uninstall‘ you will then be given the option to ‘Delete the driver software for this device‘ tick that box and then OK.

qualcomm-atheros-uninstall

The current driver being used will be uninstalled and the driver files deleted. Next right click on your computers name and select ‘Scan for hardware changes‘. You will quite possibly find that a driver is indeed found on your system and the install process will begin again – this is ok so allow it to happen. If you again see the Qualcomm Atheros 956x Wireless Network Adapter listed in Device Manager repeat the step above until when you ‘Scan for hardware changes‘ you see the following…

Your wireless network adapter in Device Manager should look like this:

qualcomm-atheros

This is GOOD.

Next, connect your computer directly to your router (not your modem) using a standard Network Cable (otherwise known as a Cat5e cable with an RJ45 connector) This will allow you to connect to the Internet and download the latest updates and drivers directly from Microsoft.

If you move your mouse pointer to the bottom right of your screen a little sidebar menu will pop up. Click on Search and in the box type Windows Update. You should now see a screen similar to this:

check-for-updates

Select ‘check for updates‘ and after a minute or two you should see a screen similar to the one below with all the update files available for your machine. The driver we are specifically interested in – as you can see from the image below right at the bottom of the list. Tick this box along with any other Windows Updates that might be available as well as it’s always good practice to keep your system fully up to date.

latest-driver

Select this box and then go ahead and Update your system. This may take a few moments depending on your Internet connection speed. Once this is done Reboot your computer if it doesn’t do this automatically. Disconnect your computer from the Network Cable and once your computer has re-booted, login as usual.

You now need to select your Wireless Network from the list of available networks and enter your network password. If all is just and fair you should now have a stable wireless Internet connection and peace has been restored to the World once more.

Best wishes

Simon