Macbook wifi dying

Has anyone seen these symptoms?  Googling gets me lots of networking issues all of which are rather different, and whose suggested solutions I had tried before googling.

The symptom: networking (over wifi) just stops working.  The mailer sits and spins, or the browser times out trying to load a page.  Same happens when I try the router’s page.  Anything from the commandline hangs until DNS lookup times out.  Meanwhile, if I fire up the other laptop it works just fine, indicating that the router and its outward connection are just fine.

Nothing too unusual so far.  But trying to diagnose it, it begins to look like a hardware issue.  It won’t “search for networks” as it normally would.  And turning airport off, it simply can’t be turned back on: that is to say, I turn it on from – for example – Network Diagnostics – but it remains resolutely off.  Similarly the networking wizard bombs out when it tries to activate airport.

So far the only solution I’ve found is to shut it down and restart from cold.  But yesterday morning I did that and it lasted only ten minutes before dying again.

Anyone seen similar symptoms?  Is there anything I can do to try and fix it?


Posted on April 28, 2014, in mac. Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Seen similar, in that I had an issue with Mac OS X and OpenVPN, where at some point network connectivity would seem to stop. I established that it was merely DNS that was toast (but so much does forward or reverse DNS lookups these days).

    We were able to reconnect the VPN, which reset and flush the DNS settings, and all was well. There is a command line DNS flush if you see the same symptoms.

    Not seen it recently, but I appreciate that isn’t much help, other than installing latests Mac OS X everything (and current OpenVPN as well). I may have some more notes, but other than “deep issue with DNS resolution” library/cache I didn’t get far because it was so intermittent, and there is only so much benefit in resolving issues you can reset with two clicks of a mouse.

  2. No VPN involved here. And it’s getting more frequent: more-than daily.

    A huge shame: the Macbook Pro is far and away the best screen I have until I get around to upgrading the desktop monitor, and the most powerful computer. Looks like it just lost a huge chunk of its usability.

  3. Don’t think it was the VPN that just gave me a quick reset, guess the question as to is it the same thing would be is only DNS affected?

  4. It’s not DNS. Using IP addresses (including the router’s) is exactly the same. The reason I mention DNS is that it’s just the first thing to error out and generate a visible message when it happens.

  5. OK, I thought I could get wifi via a USB device. But it had to be something small enough not to get broken if I just happened to swipe it with a hand. So I bought one of these, but it turns out to be useless: as soon as I go to the next room (less than 5m away) it just drops the signal, and won’t hold it more than a few seconds. So I’m using the macbook at the treadmill desk, where it’s within a long cable distance of the router.

    I’ve got my ultrabook – whose builtin networking works fine – for use around the house or when away from home.

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