A bug in some wireless routers may allow wireless access only to Google – no other websites work. This is one of those weird issues that make even hardened IT techs squirm and rack their brains but it gives an idea of how bizarre some computer problems can be.
In this case a laptop where the internet appears to work fine, but only for Google… An existing wireless router had worked happily with XP and Vista laptops – no issues with wireless internet connections. A brand new Windows 7 laptop connected via WPA2 to this wireless network with no apparent problems.
Google worked fine and web search results were returned quickly. However, no other websites worked (they just timed out without connecting) – only Google. This happened whether we used Internet Explorer or another web browser like Firefox so we knew the web browser was not at fault.
What Could Block All Websites Except Google? We reviewed a number of suspects:
- It could be the result of a virus – but this is a brand new laptop and we know there are no viruses.
- It could be a firewall issue – but, again, there are no firewall rules set up that could block certain websites.
- It could be a problem with the router – but the wireless still works fine with XP and Vista laptops which can both access all websites as normal.
- It could be a problem with the wireless adapter in the Windows 7 laptop, Windows networking, faulty drivers or wireless utility – but all these would prevent internet access to all websites including Google.
What Was The Cause? Fortunately we have come across this issue before: the wireless router was set to use WPA security as well as WPA2 – to allow older laptops/phones to connect via WPA (because they were too old to use the newer WPA2 security).
Switching off the WPA compatibility mode in the router settings immediately fixed the problem – the W7 laptop was able to connect to all websites as normal, not just Google.
How Could That Happen? We think that the router is about five years old so was manufactured well before Windows 7 was released. A bug in the router firmware (similar to software) may have defaulted to only allow access to Google if the router did not recognize the operating system accessing it.
Such a bug may have been an error in the firmware or possibly used for testing purposes and released into the wild (on routers sold to the public) unknowingly. In our case the router worked fine with XP and Vista wireless laptops but did not recognize W7 as an operating system so blocked all web requests except Google – even though it connected fine with a strong wireless signal.
Bizarre but true.
Any Alternatives? If we hadn’t been able to turn off WPA compatibility mode in the router because we did have an older laptop, which could not use WPA2, we could have done one of the following:
1. Upgrade the laptop’s wireless adapter to WPA2 if possible or buy a new adapter.
2. Upgrade the router firmware if available to see if a later version fixed the bug.
3. Buy a new router.