Q: I am connecting my Windows 10 PC to the internet via Wi-Fi to Comcast. We will also connect two phones and two iPads. On the PC, there is a Linksys AE2500 Wi-Fi adapter. 

Occasionally, the internet connection on the PC will drop, but connecting with the iPads or phone will be OK. Removing the Wi-Fi adapter and reconnecting usually restores the connection. The computer, adapter, and router are all more than 5 years old. 

Does the adapter need replacing, and what do I look for in a replacement?

— Doug, Shoreline

A: There are a lot of potential causes of Wi-Fi signals dropping, but if you’re only experiencing that on one of your connected devices, and if all the devices are equally distant from the router, yes, the culprit is likely to be the Wi-Fi client adapter on that computer.

Of course, if the PC with the problem is further from the router than the other devices, that may account for the connection dropping off.

If distance isn’t the issue, I suggest checking to see whether there is an updated driver for the client adapter.

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If that doesn’t solve the problem, I’d certainly consider trying another client adapter and, perhaps, a new Wi-Fi router as well. Five years is a long time when it comes to Wi-Fi hardware.

The current generation of Wi-Fi routers — which support the latest protocol, 802.11ax — offer speeds 30-40 percent faster than the previous 802.11ac standard.

The key thing to keep in mind, though, is that if you want to get the best performance out of your new router, you’ll also need to upgrade your client adapters. While 802.11ax is backward compatible — which means it will work with older clients — the devices will be limited to the performance of their client adapters.

Q: A few weeks ago my Windows PCs no longer could see my Kindle Paperwhite through a USB port.

This problem is with all versions of Windows: 7, 10, and XP.

My routine for many years used to be to store interesting articles and books on my Kindle Paperwhite for reading, etc. I can no longer bring fresh material to my Kindle. Attempts to get help from Amazon or Microsoft did not pan out.

— Daniel Molnar

A: USB ports can go bad. But since you’re experiencing this on several PCs, my suspicion would turn to the USB cable, which can also go bad.

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Related Tech Q&As

Read more from Patrick Marshall here >>

Q: You suggested to a reader that he remove either Bitdefender or Malwarebytes from his ASUS running Windows 7 on account of the antivirus software conflict. I use Bitdefender for its antivirus function, and Malwarebytes once a month to find and remove malware. I don’t believe that causes the conflict, but perhaps I am wrong?

— Mary Hollen, Greenbank

A: The rule of thumb is that you don’t want to run two antivirus programs at the same time because the things they do CAN conflict with each other. That doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily run into problems, but you may. And why would you want to run two anti-virus programs?

If you only run Malwarebytes once a month, you’re not likely to run into conflicts. But since Malwarebytes Antimalware includes virus protection, you might consider just using it full time.

Follow-up note: In response to a recent column, Microsoft contacted me with updated pricing for Microsoft Word. Office Home & Student 2019, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote, is typically available for a one-time payment of $149.99. For $69.99 a year, with the Microsoft 365 Personal subscription, a single user gets all the Office applications and 1 terabyte of cloud storage. For $99.99 a year, the same package is delivered to up to six users (1TB of OneDrive cloud storage per person) with the Microsoft 365 Family subscription.

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