I use Windows 7 on my desktop machine and I ran into an annoying problem the other day. I tried to connect to my wireless network at home like I normally do, but could not connect. I kept getting the following error message:

Windows is Unable to Connect to the Selected Network

Windows cannot connect

Strange problem! I’ve also had this error once before when I first installed Windows 7 on a new computer and it refused to connect to any wireless networks. I tried to recall everything I had done to fix it the previous time and eventually got things working again. I’ll list out all the methods you can try to fix the wireless connectivity problem.

Release/Renew IP Address

You can first try to release and renew the IP address in case it’s simply a problem with the IP address. You can do this in one of two ways. You can try to simply restart the computer or you can run a few commands from the command prompt. Or you can try both.

To run the commands, click on Start and then type in CMD into the search box. Press Enter and you’ll get the command prompt dialog. Now simply type these two commands:

ipconfig /release

ipconfig /renew

Ipconfig command

You should see something like what I have above in the screenshot, but instead of saying Ethernet adapter, it’ll say Wireless network adapter. If you get some kind of error when trying to release or renew related to DHCP server, then there may be an issue with the wireless router, which is the second thing to try.

Restart Wireless Router

The second thing to try is to restart the wireless router, if you can access it. If you’re trying to connect to someone else’s wireless router or a hotspot at an airport, for example, then you obviously won’t be able to do this and the issue could still be with your computer. You can skip this part and read on if this is your scenario.

Otherwise, go ahead and turn off the router completely and then wait about 30 seconds and turn it back on. Wireless routers are notorious for having all kinds of strange connection issues and most of the time the problem can be fixed by simply restarting.

Disable Security on Wireless Router

Depending on what kind of wireless card you have and the security settings for the wireless router, it could be that you simply cannot connect because the security encryption on the router is too advanced and your network card does not support it.

In order to test this, try to turn off or disable the security on the wireless router temporarily to see if you are able to connect. You’ll have to log into your router and go to the wireless settings page and choose either None or Disable.

Wireless security

If you are able to connect, then it’s basically a problem with the security settings. You may have to upgrade the drivers on your network card or you may even have to upgrade to your OS to the latest service pack. For example, make sure you are running Windows XP SP3 in order to connect to the latest wireless routers.

Update Network Card Drivers

Also, if there is a security problem between the two devices, you should upgrade the drivers for your network card. The latest drivers may support the higher encryption on the wireless router and therefore allow you to connect.

Even if you bought a computer recently, it’s always a good idea to go directly to the network card manufacture’s website and download the driver from there. You can see the exact model of your network card by going to Start, Control Panel, System and clicking on Device Manager in the left menu.

Device manager

Expand Network adapters and you’ll get a list of all the network adapters on the computer. It should have the company and the model number in the list itself. Make sure you install the correct version depending on what operation system you are running.

Turn on Network Discovery

There are occasions when somehow settings get changed on your computer and you have no idea how. One of those could be Network Discovery, which lets Windows talk and connect to other computers and network devices. To make sure it’s turned on, go to Control Panel and click on Network and Sharing Center. In the left pane, click on Change advanced sharing settings.

Change sharing settings

Now make sure that the radio button for Turn on network discovery is selected.

network discovery

If it was turned off for any reason, that could have been causing the issue where you could not connect to a wireless network or even an issue where you could not see the wireless network at all in the list.

Use Network Troubleshooter

Windows has a nifty little troubleshooting tool in Windows 7 that can possibly fix your problem too. It’s called the Network Troubleshooter and you can access it by right-clicking on the wireless icon in your task bar and choosing Troubleshoot Problems.

Network troubleshooter

A dialog will pop up and try to detect any network problems.

Detecting problems

If this doesn’t fix your problem, then continue reading and hopefully you’ll find a solution soon!

Windows XP and Shared Encryption

If you’re having this issue on Windows XP, then it could be an issue where the wireless router is open shared encryption instead of open encryption. You can get around this by manually adding the wireless network to your computer. To do this, go to Control Panel and then Network Connections. Right-click on the wireless network adapter and choose Properties.

Network properties

Then, click on the Wireless Networks tab and click the Add button.

Wireless networks

Finally, go ahead and type in the SSID for the wireless router and set the Network Authentication to Shared. BY default it is set to Open like in the image below, so you have to change it to Shared.  Also, uncheck the box that says “This key is provided for me automatically“.

Wireless network properties

Manually type in the network key and click OK. If this was the issue, you will now be connected to the wireless network. It’s a little annoying, but it works. So it nothing else is working for you and you’re not sure what type of encryption the router is using and you’re on Windows XP, give this a shot.

Wireless USB Adapters

If you’re using a wireless dongle or one of those wireless adapters that connects to a computer via USB, then your issue is probably related to the device itself. Those USB wireless adapters tend to have issues since it’s connected via USB.

Here’s a couple of things you can try for these types of adapters:

1. Turn off your computer completely and unplug it! Yes, unplug it! Then turn it back on and see if you are able to connect.

2. Try using a different USB port for the wireless adapter.

3. Uninstall all USB devices from Device Manager and then let the computer reinstall them

4. Update the drivers for the USB adapter

Uninstall Security Software

As a last resort, your problem could be related to some kind of security software. This is especially true for company computers that have Symantec Endpoint Protection or some other insane security software. If you can, try uninstalling it and seeing if that fixes your issue.

Other programs to try and uninstall include Microsoft Security Essentials and any kind of Norton software. If you find that was the problem, try a different product or try to reinstall it.

Those are pretty much all the possible solutions I could find on this particular wireless issue. If something else worked for you, post a comment here and let us know! If you’re still having issues, tell us your setup and we’ll try to help. Enjoy!