Plenty of Mac users have complained about wireless problems with their MacBook or MacBook Pro after they upgraded to Snow Leopard. Although OS 10.6.3 does in fact fix many problems with Airport, a lot of users still continue to have issues with wireless connectivity in Snow Leopard. I too was having wireless problems with my black MacBook after I upgraded to Snow Leopard. Here’s what I did to fix it.
First, I performed some standard wireless network troubleshooting. This included the following;
- Reset my wireless router
- Reset my cable modem
- Upgraded the firmware on my wireless router
- Disabled wireless security on my wireless router
- Changed the wireless channel on my wireless router
- Updated my MacBook to OS 10.6.3
- Zapped the PRAM on my MacBook
- Tested my MacBook on other wireless networks * See notes
- Tested other laptops on my wireless network * See notes
Sure enough, other laptops worked flawlessly on my wireless network whereas my MacBook performed poorly on other wireless networks. The problem was clearly with my MacBook. I then decided to try pinging the default gateway (my router’s IP address) in order to rule out issues with DNS. Packets were in fact being dropped so I didn’t run the dscacheutil -flushcache command because the issue was not related to DNS. I was stumped at this point…
If you were able to determine that the problem is in fact your wireless router and not your MacBook I would highly recommend that you consider purchasing a WZR-HP-G300NH as a replacement for your existing wireless router. Fans of Apple’s Airport Extreme could also of course purchase either an Airport Extreme 802.11N (5TH GEN) base station or an Apple Time Capsule.
The command that fixed it all
I had read articles online in which I had discovered that there were known issues with the Airport cards that were installed in Apple’s black MacBooks. Cringing at the thought of tearing open my MacBook I decided to run a command that I had used to fix a problem with an iMac’s Ethernet card a couple of years ago.
Delete the files under /Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration
The solution to my problem was to delete the .plist files under the /Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration directory. Here’s how to do it;
- Open terminal which is found in Applications/Utilities
- Type the following command; cd /Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration
- Type following command to delete the .plist files; sudo rm *.*
- Reboot your Mac
This worked to correct all of the wireless problems that I was having with my MacBook. I hope that it works for you too.
Update: August 29th, 2010
Here are a few things that I had discovered after I had originally posted this article.
1. Per Apple’s Support Article HT1242 I had learned that network settings in OS X are not stored in PRAM so resetting my Macbook’s PRAM was not necessary as it would not have resolved the issue.
2. OS 10.5.8 introduced a problem in which some MacBooks and MacBook Pros would experience slow wireless performance when running on battery. Apple released a patch to correct this problem.
3. Resetting the Mac’s System Management Controller (SMC) has apparently helped some people fix their MacBook’s wireless connectivity issues. Here’s the link to Apple’s Support Article; Intel-based Macs: Resetting The System Management Controller (SMC)
4. If none of the solutions in this article work to repair your MacBook’s wireless issues then you will need to replace your MacBook’s Airport Extreme Wireless Card. Here’s a place to get your replacement Airport Extreme Card. Fortunately, the actual installation of the Airport Extreme Card isn’t too difficult. Here’s a great guide that will help you should you decide to perform the repair by yourself.
Update: September 24th, 2010
I actually had to replace a friend’s Airport Extreme Wireless card this past week and can now honestly say from experience that it really isn’t all that difficult to do on your own.
Update: August 16th, 2011
After installing OS X Lion on my early 2008 black MacBook I began to experience wireless problems where my connection to wireless networks would drop intermittently. Apple released OS 10.7.1 today which seems to have resolved the wireless issues that I had been experiencing since upgrading to OS X Lion.