Windows Vista: Getting WPA/WPA2 Wifi 802.11 Security Working

The Problem: "wireless authentication failed because of a timeout"

There appears to be a bug in Microsoft Windows Vista with many notebook's/laptop's and other PC's wireless network cards where all you get is a timeout. The result is that setting up a wifi network with WPA or WPA2 security fails for no seemingly good reason. My father's new Vista-based Acer Laptop with an Atheros NIC card just was not working, and I figured he must have been going senile again. But after verifying my Linksys router's settings, with everything setup correctly with WPA-PSK (or, in Windows-Vista speak: "WPA-Personal") , any connection attempt would still time out.


One solution seems to be to upgrade your notebook's wireless NIC's device driver.

From what I have read, a number of laptops with INTEL wireless devices seem to have the same problem and require the driver upgrade.

For my father's Vista laptop, fixing it was as easy as finding out which 802.11b wifi network card the laptop came with (again, some type of Atheros card), and then finding the drivers off of the Atheros website. You can find out which wireless card your computer/notebook has by going into "Device Manager". To get into "Device Manager", click on Start--->Control Panel--->System & Maintenance--->System--->Device Manager--->Network Adapters. Find your wifi card and then right-click and go to properties. It should be on that screen. Clicking on "Update Driver" may work, but I haven't had much luck with it.

Another solution is to try changing to WPA2 (also known as WPA-AES). Hot fix KB935222 may need to be installed on your system, but I'd recommend trying it first without installing the Hotfix. Keep in mind that not all routers will support WPA2/AES.

Other Fixes

If these aids do not work, it would appear the next best option is to just give up on WPA security encryption and use the lowly WEP security (ideally with a 128-bit key) and set up a whitelist of MAC addresses that can connect to the network. This will at least protect you against casual intruders, but not serious ones. Or a USB/PCMCIA wifi card could be bought with better support. That, or downgrade operating systems from Microsoft Vista to Windows XP or Win2000.

I too had issues in

I too had issues in connecting my system with WiFi as it showed some error similar to the one explained in this article. I am not familiar with the troubleshooting processes done in Windows Vista but this article helped me a lot solving the

Made my Day

I had to re-install Vista due to some virus issues, but after installation couldn't figurde out why can't only this laptop connect to internet through my Linksyse3000. Wasted 2 days on my own and then Linksys support. But installing the updated "Driver" worked like a charm. Thank you

Thanks so much! Worked all

Thanks so much! Worked all afternoon trying to figure out why I couldn't connect to the internet when I changed my router to WPA security. Updated my driver and now it works fine!

Ar 5007

I just replaced an old linksus router and all devices worked with wifi except my my Toshiba laptop. I spent 50 minutes with Linksys support on the phone! They never thought of this solution. Thank you so much!


You just made my day. Thank you.


I've spend two weeks, with blood, sweat, tears and two fights with my girlfriend, in trying to get my computer connected to the internet with WPA2 security. Finally, above solution worked. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

Glad I found your comment. Thanks!!

After reading your advice and checking my driver, it was a 2007 driver and hadn't been updated even though Vista claimed it was. I downloaded the latest and my wifi is working using WPA.
Thanks for the great advice.

Upgrade for Atheros AR5007

Maybe this will be a useful bit of information for somebody who has a problem like mine. I was able to find which network card my HP laptop has in my Device Manager. I had an Atheros AR5007 802.11b/g version When I clicked on "update driver", Windows told me that I had the latest, greatest most up to date driver. THIS WAS A LIE!!! When I went here: I found that there were 13 newer versions of the same driver. I downloaded the latest one (version and my problem seems to be solved. Thank you Dan Matan!

Worked!!!!! Thanks

Worked!!!!! Thanks

Atheros driver

Brother Donald's comment was extremely useful, thanks for the post. I had the exact same old driver version and when I tried to update, Microsoft said: "You already have the best driver." That was not the case since the old driver would only work in WEP security with my brand new router. It simply would not work with WPA/WPA2.
I installed the driver and now my HP/Compaq laptop works fine in WPA2-PSK. During the installation process MS advises that it is an unverifiable source and "it could harm your computer." I did install it anyway and just hope it did not plant any bugs or viruses in my system. It looks like a legitimate ATHEROS download.


Thanks Brother Donald. I was having the same problem and your post was very helpful in resolving the issue.

Good Dan Matan it works for

Good Dan Matan
it works for me. using vista home premium

thanks. It worked like a

thanks. It worked like a charm for me as well!!!

Legend , worked a treat,

Legend , worked a treat, spent all day trying to sort this out when i should have been studying!!


Thanks you so much. I recently bought my first fancy phone, the HTC Inspire. I tried using the portable wifi on it in preparation for vacation. My husband's new laptop with Windows 7 worked, his Panditigal e-reader worked, but my laptop with Vista didn't. Then I found your post and it worked like a dream.


I have struggled for some time to solve the problem.
The answers above on the top were really helpful.
They worked!!
Thank you.

If WPA has suddenly stopped

If WPA has suddenly stopped working for you, one simple thing to check is your time/date. You need your time and date set correctly for WPA to function.

It's so simple...

I spent a few hours battling with the Atheros 5007 of a Toshiba laptop that couldn't connect in WPA, but was OK with WEP. The solution was simply to go back to Toshiba web and update to the latest version of the Wifi driver, and Bingo !

I should have dried it at first.

This Vista 64-bit I'm

This Vista 64-bit I'm working with, even when I disable all wireless security on the WAP, it still won't connect. And the hotfix mentioned is "not applicable to this computer" I have the latest Atheros Drivers.

Thank you so much :)))))

Thank you so much :)))))

Oh-oh - Key length is not the answer for Atheros AR5009

Hi Dan,

Well, it seems that it only works for a day or so and then it fails. I have now made 6 calls to HP tech support, adding up to about 7 hours total time. We have tried the following:

-Going to safe mode, uninstalling, then re-installing the latest driver from the HP Website for the Atheros AR5009.
-Rebooting the WPA router (which always works fine with my other HP running XP) and has the latest firmware, and was serving WEP pages to my other laptop when I was trying to connect with the dv5
-Rebooting the dv5 laptop containing the Atheros AR5009 WLAN NIC
-Using windows restore to revert to several earlier restore points when the laptop was connecting
-Various WPA key lengths
-Using msconfig and disabling all the start-up bloatware on the laptop
-Removing the battery, disconnecting the power cord and pressing the power button
-Reseating the wireless card (HP Suggested, but could not tell me where to locate it) Where they told me to look was a video chip, not a wireless card. I think the Atheros chipset is on the motherboard, not on a separate card. They don't really know either. The instructions they were giving me sounded like it was for an Intel motherboard but my CPU is AMD.
-Multiple connection attempts
-Deleting and then re-adding the wireless profile for my card
-Connecting manually

At the end of each HP Tech call, it starts working again, but the next time I hibernate the computer, or leave it overnight, I am dead meatski. At this point, I believe that the problem is related to the Atheros Driver, which appears only to be written for Vista (Couldn't possibly be Vista's fault because Microsoft products are very reliable - oh and secure, did I mention secure?). As I said before, the only place the AR5009 is even mentioned is on HP driver package. Atheros website only mentions AR5008 and AR6000. I suspect this chipset is a one-of "special" for HP. Clearly the driver is a POS, and no longer supported. I told the last HP tech to get HP to thump on Atheros to fix their driver. I also asked her to write in the ticket that I intend to keep calling tech support until it works permanently. I am going to get to know every HP tech in Canada. PERSONALLY. And they are going to get to know me. Really well. Too well. Badges? We don't need them.

Reducing key length works on Atheros AR5009 chipset

I have a brand new FoB HP Pavilion dv5-1044ca Laptop. After reading this article, I re-installed the latest Atheros driver from the HP website and that worked once after I rebooted, then stopped working again two days later. I called HP and got the usual "Nobody else has this problem". I told them "Not only do other HP customers have this problem, but clearly your HP Knowledge base is not up to scratch because I know that and you don't!" Then I showed them a host of links where this is a known issue, including on their own forums!!

To their credit, they found a link I missed on Microsoft tech net where reducing the key length was reported to help. I reduced my key from 55 to 13 Hex digits and this did work.

Also, according to the first link above, the root cause appears to be: "Layer 2 security key exchange did not generate multicast keys before timeout" which I think is a Windows Vista challenge-response issue. Impressive, WPA is a Windows Vista Selling Feature.

Then they blamed my router. I told them my router has the latest firmware and is working just fine with my other HP laptop running windows XP.

I asked "Dan" a supervisor at HP to keep this ticket open (HP Support case number 8020027367) and escalate this ticket until it is resolved either by their level 2 support or Microsoft.

"Dan" said that they have to close the ticket if it is not a hardware or software config issue since it is only a "Consumer level product" but that I "should not worry", someone in HP will keep working on this and they will "let Microsoft know". He also suggested that I contact Microsoft directly.

I told "Dan" that he has a great potential future in used car sales.

Saw your post! GOT YAH!

HP Pavilion dv5-1044ca Entertainment Notebook

I did saw your case, LOL. this cannot be escalated to microsoft, they would not do anything about it. There are a million reason why and its equal to the million compatibility issues with the so called windows VISTA (aka unfinished version of win7) hopefully that has been resolved for you already. anyways did no see the ticket update. So I gues you have a new computer. LOL.

Well, unfortunately my test

Well, unfortunately my test system is now fixed, but thank you so much for the research.

Though I do worry about an 8^13 key space, that leaves just 549755813888 potential keys (which sounds like a lot, but really isn't in the encryption world).

As a last resort, it certainly is better than WEP.

Math question + improved test results: 35 Hex digits

Hi Dan,

If the key digits are Hexadecimal (0x00 thru 0x0f) and there are 13 of them, then isn't it 16 to the 13th power? (16^13)

I don't know why I even worry about security on my wireless infrastructure. The first thing my new laptop did after waking up and connecting to the internet was to download FORTY THREE security patches for windows Vista that had been discovered between 08week22 when it was manufactured and 08week53 when I booted it up. What an embarrassment. How does Microsoft continue to get away with such shoddy product quality year after year?

A lot of my friends are running dual boot Ubuntu systems now, in and effort to distance themselves from the Microsoft Windows Vista FIASCO. I would like to downgrade my dv5 to XP, but HP will not provide device drivers for it, and the Atheros website is pathetic when it comes to drivers. AR5009 isn't even listed for ANY OS.


P.S. Latest testing reveals that up to 35 Hex digits seem to work ok on the Atheros AR5009 running on Windows Vista Home Premium. I think the maximum number of hex digits permitted by WPA-PSK is 64, so not bad I suppose. I am sure that Microsoft will have this resolved by say Service Pack 7 or so. Of course by then, they will have declared limited support for Vista in favor of then new Windows OS release, which I hear-tell will be code named either MOLASSES or ALBATROSS (as in Ancient Mariner's large dead fowl tied around the neck of the unsuspecting innocent)

OK, but how do I really feel?

In this case, your math is

In this case, your math is better than mine :)

It helped

Actually the solution was simple and I could figure it out easily by myself, too, but I'm too lazy and decided to UTFG first.

Actually the drivers preinstalled on my satellite were from early 2007, so after I updated them from the realtek site, restarted and reconfigured my wifi connection, I could connect through WPA2-Personal (Vista - LOL) using TKIP. The setting set on my D-Link router is WPA2-PSK.


Perfect! Thank you!

After installing new atheros driver my Acer notebok works with WPA2! Thank you.

Not really a valid answer

If you are in an IT position where your customers have Vista, and your network is WPA-Enterprise, other than updating the driver which usually fails to solve the problem, this is pretty much a pointless article.

Not really a valid comment answer

If you were in an IT position where your customers have Vista, and your complaining because Vista networking blows so much you must search the World Wide Web for answers using Google and forums yet the answers you find don't satisfy you and thus the rude complaints which are pointless and null. I tell my customers to complain to Microsoft and wait for another solution to come out like React-OS which will destroy MS and their stupidity for prematurely releasing a Frankenstein OS, broken in every way possible.

Such is why I'm still with

Such is why I'm still with Windows 2000, and slowly transitioning to Ubuntu (mainly because that's all you hear about these days)

Updating the driver has

Updating the driver has helped for some, and not others as we've seen. Also, people like to know that they're not the only person having this problem, but it seems to be a bigger issue. This _does_ help an IT administrator to rule out what may or may not be causing the problem.

Other options in your case where there seem to be some kind of incompatiblity between the wifi hardware, Vista and WPA is to get rid of one of those problems. Get rid of Vista, change the wifi hardware and/or drop WPA.

If you have any actual suggestions, feel free to share them.

Thanks for writing about

Thanks for writing about this, at least I know I'm not the only one experiencing this problem. Updated drivers don't seem to do the trick. So I'm stuck with choosing either WEP or installing a new router.

Or option c. Back to XP. Oh, I like option c. Very much.

Wonderful! It works even

Wonderful! It works even without the hotfix. Thank you very much!

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