Mac Airport Wi-Fi wackiness: ‘connection timeout’

Apple-ghostOne of the persistent problems I experience with my Mac (MacBook Air 2.1, still running OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.8) is flakiness with Wi-Fi connections. Out of the blue, after days of reliable use, the connection will drop. Or, I’ll open up the machine on getting home from somewhere, and it will refuse to connect. My network will be clearly visible in the list of available networks, the signal will be as strong as it always is – yet again and again, I will enter my password, yet get only “Connection timeout”.

At one stage, there were a couple of things that seemed to help:

• Closing the lid, letting the Mac go into sleep, and then ‘waking’ it again
• Switching users

However, of late (presumably as a consequence of software ‘updates’) these earlier remedies no longer seem to work. But the problem persists.

The solution

What DOES work for me now, when faced with the mysterious failure of my Macbook to connect with a perfectly healthy, visible network, is to open Network Preferences, and to switch locations. (If you don’t have more than one location set in your network prefs, and you have this problem, it may be worth creating a new network location.)

Good luck with this.

Update (16 July 2012)

Having blogged this solution, it stopped working shortly afterwards. What has worked better is to create a new network profile, and completely delete the default ‘Automatic’ network profile that Apple gives you. Completely deleting all past networks, and clearing out old Wi-Fi passwords from the Keychain app may also assist.

Update 2 (6 September 2012)

Neither of the solutions listed above ever worked completely and satisfactorily. However, upgrading to Mountain Lion has sorted out the problem for me. (The upgrade has introduced a couple of other problems, such as the over-complicated disaster zone called Mission Control, but overall, despite some Snow Leopard nostalgia, I’m glad I took the upgrade plunge.)

Update 3 (12 June 2013)

After a long period of relative Wi-Fi stability (never perfect), I upgraded last weekend to OS X 10.8.4, and all the old problems returned, worse than ever (Apple…).

The best fix I have come across is to renew the DHCP lease. If you don’t know how to do that, open System Preferences, then choose Network. Highlight your Wi-Fi connection, then click Advanced. Click TCP/IP, and you will see a button marked ‘Renew DHCP lease’ on the right.

Once you’ve done that, click OK, and you’ll be back on the Network pane. Turn Wi-Fi off and on, and hopefully you’ll have a connection again.

About David

I am an environmental writer, journalist and speaker living in Cape Town, South Africa.
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3 Responses to Mac Airport Wi-Fi wackiness: ‘connection timeout’

  1. Vicki says:

    How did you manage to upgrade without a reliable connection? I am facing the same issue, and am trying to download the upgrade. Due to the wacky wifi issues, the download will be motoring along fine and then suddenly stop. To temporarily resolve this, I’ve been doing a network diagnostic and then restarting the download, which works. However, it is taking 2 days to successfully get the full download.

    • David says:

      Oh dear – sounds most frustrating – I was fortunate, and happened to attend a Internet conference with an *extremely* high-speed connection – downloading it at home would have taken weeks – our broadband in South Africa is not very broad, and my current home connection is 384kbps.

  2. Al Polidoro says:

    I have the same issue with a macbook i purchased used. It has sno leopard 10.6.8 installed. The wifi times out abd i cant get on. I did notice i can go next to the wirless router and sign right on no issues. As soon as i walk out of the romm it loses the connection and i cant log on. Time out error e verytime unless i go into the room the ths the wifi router. Very frustrated. Any new ideas?

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