Limited Wi-Fi Access in Windows – Troubleshooting

Limited Wi-Fi Access in Windows 8.1 – Troubleshooting

In this article we’ll try to find a solution to a common problem of Wi-Fi connection in Windows 8.1, namely, the limited Internet connectivity and self-disconnection from a Wi-Fi access point.
The problem shows up in the  following:
Windows 8.1 sees a Wi-Fi access point and connects to it without any problem, the computer can access the Internet, but in several minutes of normal operation the Internet access is lost, the yellow exclamation mark appears on the network icon and the message about a limited connectivity comes out in the network connection box («No internet access» / «The connection is limited»). When trying to reconnect to the access point, the Internet access becomes available only for a short period of time.
Or this way:
After you upgraded to Windows 8.1, the message «Unidentified network. No Internet access» appears in Wi-Fi connection properties.
You can run into the same problem while updating the Wi-Fi adapter driver. In both cases, any other devices (smartphones, computers, laptops) can connect to the access point and use the Internet without any problems (i. e. the problem is not in the access point).
windows 8.1 limited wifi connection
If there are any Wi-Fi connectivity issues in Windows 8.1 and the system doesn’t see a Wi-Fi network, any problems with the Internet access via Wi-Fi occur or the Internet access is often lost, these steps in turn are worth following:

How to Delete a Wi-Fi Network Profile

It is likely that the settings of the Wi-Fi router and/or WEP/WPA2 have been changed, but the system tries to connect to the access point with the settings that are stored in Windows in the Wi-Fi network profile. Try to delete the existing Wi-Fi network profile (how to do it is described in the chapter: How to Delete a Wi-Fi Network Profile).
After you have deleted the profile, try to connect to the access point again and enter the password.

Power Save Mode of the Wi-Fi Adapter

Another possible reason of Win 8.1 to lose the connection to the Wi-Fi access point is the improper settings of the Power Save Mode of your Wi-Fi adapter. It makes Windows turn off the Wi-Fi adapter if it is not used for some time to save power. Check if this mode is enabled in the wireless device settings. Open the properties of the wireless connection and press the Configure button.
wifi adapter settings
Go to the Power Management tab and make sure that the option Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power is not checked.
wifi driver - disable power save mode

TCP/IP Stack Reset

You should also make sure that the TCP/IP stack with standard settings is used on this computer. To do it, reset the settings of the TCP/IP stack to default with netsh:
netsh int ip reset C:\resetlog.log
After the command has been run, restart the system, connect to the Wi-Fi access point and try to access the Internet.

Disabling TCP/IP Autotuning

In Windows Vista / Windows Server 2008 a new function, TCP Receive Window Auto-Tuning, was implemented to dynamically change the size of the acceptor’s memory buffer (due to this function, the maximum size of the window can be increased to 16MB). In theory, this feature should improve the network bandwidth and optimize the performance of the network subsystem. But in practice, autotuning of the Receive Window (RWIN) size results in many network issues. In Windows 8.1, TCP RWIN Auto-Tuning was preserved and sometimes the TCP autotuning means conflict with the settings of network hardware or firewalls (not supporting or prohibiting TCP Window scaling) causing package loss and the speed of the local network or the Internet decreases or even the access is lost completely.
So we recommend to disable the TCP/IP autotuning. To do it, open the command line with the administrator privileges and run the following commands one by one:
Tip. These commands are especially effective in the devices with Windows RT (including Surface), but they also can help in desktop versions of  Windows 8.1.
netsh int tcp set heuristics disabled
netsh int tcp set global autotuninglevel=disabled
netsh int tcp set global rss=enabled
netsh: disable tcpip autotuning windows 8.1
To check if the TCP/IP autotuning is disabled, use the following command:
netsh int tcp show global
After you run all the commands, restart your computer.

Updating the Wi-Fi Adapter Driver

Troubles with Wi-Fi adapter drivers can be another source of problems. Try to update the drivers to the latest version available on the manufacturer’s website. If the issue of the limited Internet connection is not solved this way, try to use the older version of the driver. See «
Rollback to the Older Version of the Wi-Fi Adapter Driver» for more info.

Rollback to the Older Version of the Wi-Fi Adapter Driver

Another effective technique is the rollback to the older version of the wireless adapter driver.
Tip. This technique proved highly effective for the users having upgraded from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1 especially for the devices with Wi-Fi adapters Broadcom 802.11 and Qualcomm Atheros AR9003WB. The possible reason is the incorrect version of the new drivers in Windows 8.1, but there is no information about it yet on the Microsoft support website.  
To roll back to the older version of the Wi-Fi adaptor driver in Windows 8:
  1. Open the Device Manager (devmgmt.msc)
  2. Expand the branch Network Adapters and find your Wi-Fi card (Broadcom 802.11g in our example)devmgr - wi-fi adapter broadcom 802-11g
  3. Right-click your adapter and select Update Driver Software. In this window, click Browse my computer for driver softwareupdate wifi driver
  4. Uncheck Show compatible hardware. Then find Broadcom in the list, choose the older version of the driver and press Next (the less number corresponds to the older driver version). In our example the older version of the driver is Broadcom 802.11n Adapter version: (the later one has the index rolback to old wifi driver
  5. Now the installation of the older version of the Wi-Fi adapter driver is complete. You only have to restart your computer and check if the Wi-Fi connection is working. The Internet should work without the «Limited» status indication.
The specified methods should help to solve problems with the limited Wi-Fi connection in Windows 8.1. If you have found some other ways to handle the issue, please, describe it in the comments.


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