WiFi issues on a MAC (Sierra 10.12.3)[Not Resolved]

OSSierra

OMG I hate the WiFi on my Macbook Pro!

So this is a little off topic from programming, but I just have to rant a bit about this thing…  And provide, what appears to be, the resolution to the issue (at least my issue).

About 6 months ago, I decided to take the final leap into the world of Apple and purchase a Macbook Pro (2015 model) for my primary PC (mostly used for school and very light gaming).  It’s pretty fancy with a 2.2 GHz i7, 16gb of ram, and a 250gb SSD. Or so I thought…

Apparently, one of the most common features, WiFi, is difficult for one of the largest tech companies in the world to get right.   The first month or two, I didn’t notice too many issues with the WiFi (or I just ignored them because my beautiful new Mac couldn’t have any problems!).  After a while, I noticed that the Macbook was the only device in the house losing connectivity.  I have a Macbook (personal computer) and a Surface book (work computer) in my home office on the same desk.  The Macbook would continually lose connection throughout the week while my Surface book just chugged along just fine.  The other odd thing was that my Macbook would stay connected to the WiFi connection, there just wouldn’t be any internet, or access to the router, or ability to ping any other devices on the network, or anything.  If you disconnect, the WiFi adapter would still find the wireless network, but when you tried to connect, it would fail.  I even “forgot” the wireless networks which forced me to re-enter the passwords, but I would get the same error message.  Rebooting the laptop didn’t resolve anything either!  The only way to get my Macbook back onto the wireless network would be to reboot my wireless router.

Troubleshooting:  No other devices disconnected when this was occurring. I could disconnect and reconnect other devices from my wireless network successfully. Reboot of the laptop didn’t allow it to reconnect.  We have cable internet that comes into a Cable Modem/WiFi router, but I opted to disable its WiFi and get my own wireless router (Belkin AC 1200).  A reboot of the Belkin was required in order for my laptop to reconnect.   It must be the router!  $100, a brand new router, and 24 hours later, still having the same issue (new router returned and $100 back in my pocket).

Crap… it was my Macbook.

Time for some Google-foo.  Aaaaand everyone and their mother is having issues with WiFi on OS Sierra. Greaaaat.   After trudging through a ton of message boards and blog posts about how to resolve this issue, I came across a few helpful options.

  1. Navigate to /Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration/ and make backup copies of the following files, then delete them, then reboot your machine.
    1. com.apple.airport.preferences.plist
    2. com.apple.network.eapolclient.configuration.plist
    3. com.apple.wifi.message-tracer.plist
    4. NetworkInterfaces.plist
    5. preferences.plist
  2. Set the channel on your wireless router to static.
    1. This is suggested because many routers will bounce between channels as needed based on the noise levels of that channel.   An article I read (which I can’t find any more…) mentioned that Macs have an issue with this dynamic channel changing feature.

I performed #1 above to no avail… I did use that “fix” as a programming learning experience though and created a script that creates a backup folder, and moves those files to that folder, preparing the system for the reboot step after double clicking one .sh file.  Who knows when I’ll need to delete those specific networking configure files again right? I will be discussing the creation of that script in a future post.

I then moved on to #2 which was also a bust… The first time I tried it.  I logged into my Belkin AC 1200 wireless router and navigated to the advanced wireless settings.  Once I was there, I set the 2.4 GHz band to channel 11 and the 5GHz band to 165.  These are the highest channel settings that I could pick for each respective band.  I chose the highest because I thought fewer neighbor WiFi networks would be using these higher channels and would prevent any overlap.

THIS BROKE EVERYTHING!

I was on the verge of throwing items that were not bolted to a surface in my office at this point, but I decided to take the high route and just cuss at my laptop for a few minutes before continuing with my troubleshooting.

By “broke everything,” I mean that my Mac was now dropping the WiFi connection every 30 minutes to 1 hour instead of once per day.  Changes were reverted and I’m back to dropping wifi once per day.

While poking around in my router configuration, I found a section labeled “self healing” and I thought it sounded helpful.  This is just a feature that reboots the router on certain days at certain times.  I thought “why not?” and continued to configure it to reboot my router every night at 3:00am. Another day goes by while I’m waiting to see if this resolved anything. Guess what?  Absolutely nothing changed…  I still had my laptop drop connection which required a reboot of the wireless router.

I hunkered down and continued my investigation, which didn’t really shed any additional light on my situation.  In a last ditch effort, I decided to set my router to a static channel as I had before, but this time, I set it to the lowest channel available for both 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies instead of the highest channel.

OMG IT’S FIXED!!!

After setting my router to a low static channel, I have not had a random disconnect.  I am going on roughly 2 weeks at this point, and the issue seems to be resolved.  The resolution being what it was indicates that OSSierra does not handle the dynamic changing of WiFi channels on wireless routers… at least on Belkin AC 1200 routers.

TL;DR

  1. WiFi continually dropped on Mac for weeks/months, regardless of basic troubleshooting. (rebooting machine, router, modem.  checking other devices, connecting to different networks, etc…)
  2. Tried a few resolutions I found online which did not work (at first).
    1. One was setting router to use static channels.  I set mine to the highest available channel which caused my issues to escalate.
  3. Eventually set the WiFi channel for 2.4GHz and 5GHz channels to the lowest static channel available for each.
  4. No more WiFi problems!

Thanks for reading.
Catch you next time fellow knowledge seekers!

**EDIT4/9/17**

This did not resolve the issue.  After moving to static channels, I have experienced fewer network drops on my Macbook pro, but they are still around.

I have since found another trick to try, resetting the Mac System Management Controller (SMC) which also appeared to resolve the issue, just like the static WiFi channels did.  Unfortunately, this also did not resolve the WiFi problems.

I have now posted my Macbook on Craigslist for sale as I have spent the last 6 months with WiFi problems that are not present on any of my Microsoft Windows based machines (running Windows 8.1 and 10).

I have decided that, in the end, my foray into the Mac world has been a failure.  I will also be moving from my iPhone, back to an Android based phone with the laptop change as well.

Farewell Mac… It’s been interesting, but I can’t say that it’s been fun…

 

 

 

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