PC can't log into protected Airport network (help!)

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by Tzu, Jul 16, 2006.

  1. Tzu macrumors newbie

    Jun 20, 2006
    We have a home business Airport network consisting of two Airport Extreme base stations and 4 Macs. The network is hidden and password protected (WEP).

    My father-in-law just had to bring home a PC laptop.

    I've been beating my head against this for about a day and half now. It knows the network exists, but I can't get the password to work properly. I understand there's some issue with the password being translated into hexidecimal code that the PC cannot translate back into standard text. But beyond that I'm lost.

    I'm sure someone here has experience with this type of situation. Even a point to a good guide would be helpful.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. Zorkon macrumors newbie

    Jul 25, 2003
    Kamloops BC
    The WEP encryption standard calls for a hexadecimal key to be used to encrypt network traffic. It doesn't say anything about an easy-to-remember "password". Hardware manufacturers, fearing that hexadecimal would scare their customers, came up with various ways of translating an easy-to-remember password into a hexadecimal key.

    Here's the problem: They all came up with different ways of doing this. Meaning that unless you use the raw hex key, you'll run into trouble (as you are).

    Here's the solution!

    On your Mac, open up the Airport Admin Utility (usually located in /Applications/Utilities) and select your Airport base station. Choose Configure. Once the configuration panel opens for that base station, click the Base Station menu and select "Equivalent Network Password".

    Voila! That's the hexadecimal WEP key you need to plug into the PC in order for it to connect.

    You can now quit the Airport Admin Utility. Then plug that hex key into the configuration tool for the wireless card in the PC laptop, and everything will work happily.

    Note: if you use the WPA encryption system, the passwords *are* standardized and you won't have to deal with hex keys anymore. :)

    Hope that helps.
  3. Eraserhead macrumors G4


    Nov 3, 2005
    WPA is also also actually secure to a more than passing attempt at hacking, WEP basically just stops people from being able to connect to you network automatically.
  4. Tzu thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 20, 2006
    Thanks very much. I found the Equivalent Network Password and got the PC to accept it. So far so good.

    Now, however, the PC is now claiming that it's firewalled and can't connect.

    I feel like I'm halfway there. And perhaps I'll switch us over to the WPA system based on your recommendations. Just gotta get this bloody PC working first.

    Any ideas on what to do next?
  5. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    The only reason I can think of offhand that you'd be getting that error is if the ABS wasn't giving the PC an IP address, but that doesn't seem right.

    I'd really recommend just going to WPA--it would take all of 10 minutes to switch the ABSs and the Macs, and I can tell you for sure that you shouldn't have a problem with XP connecting to it. When I was trying to get a Mac mini booted in XP to connect to my AirPort network, I had zero problems with a completely open network, and zero problems with WPA. WEP, however, proved to be more trouble than it was worth, and Windows simply refused to work with WPA2, even when I installed the appropriate components.
  6. Tzu thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 20, 2006
    Big thanks for your help, folks. With your advice I solved the problem. I'm still cussing but at least the father-in-law is happy.

    One last question though. I'd like to switch over to WPA if it's that much more secure. Makosuke says that Windows wouldn't work with WPA2.

    When I go into the Airport Admin, I get a choice between WEP, WPA2 Personal, and WPA2 Enterprise. How would I go about implementing plain ol' WPA?
  7. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    Huh? Are you using the latest ABS firmware and Airport Admin Util? On mine, when I click on "Change Wireless Security", I see the options WEP, WPA Enterprise, and WPA Personal.

    When I select WPA Personal, at the bottom, under Encryption type, I see a popup with WPA Only, WPA2 Only, or WPA and WPA2. Maybe you're in need of a software update?

    This is with a brand-new AEBS and the latest Airport software on a MacBook Pro. The setup looks similar on my G5 tower connected to the Base Station via Ethernet.

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