wlan autoconfig service has stopped
If you are a Vista or Windows 7 user, you may have experienced a problem where your wireless card will no longer work, even though drivers and hardware appear to be functioning fine. Here is how to fix it.
Identify the problem
When troubleshooting your lack of wireless connectivity, you just might run into this: “The Windows Wireless Service is not running on this computer.”
If you do, check these first:
b) Go to Control panel\Network and Sharing Center. Select “Change adapter settings”, and check status of your Wireless Network Connection. If it shows a red X, and says “Not Connected”, right click the connection and select “Connect / Disconnect.” If this works, great. If not, continue.
c) Go to Control Panel\Device Manager, open up your Network adapters, right click on your Wireless apapter and select Properties. On the General tab, verify the device is working properly. If the status is shown otherwise, you likely have a hardware or driver failure. Check the driver tab and possibly update your driver. Otherwise, there are may other posts on proceeding from this point, not related to the WLAN AutoConfig service. Please seek help there.
d) Assuming you are still having issues but things look fine so far, go to Start and type services.msc. You may need administrator privileges to proceed here. Sort the list of Services by name, and find the WLAN AutoConfig service. Verify that the service is shown as Startup Type: Automatic, and that the Status is shown as Started. If both are true, then I refer you back to step 1.c above. If not, then we are getting closer to the reason for this How-To. Likely you will find the Type as Automatic, and the Status blank (i.e. not started). Right click the service and select Start, or with the service highlighted you can select Start on the left in the service description window. This might work, but you may get the following: “Windows could not start the WLAN AutoConfig service on Local Computer. Error: 0xc00ce558; 0xc00ce558” If you get this error, then it’s time to get busy. You can also check the Dependencies tab and verify that all four of the main system components that the WLAN AutoConfig service depends on are in good shape.
At this point, we have ruled out a hardware failure and a diver problem, and found that the WLAN AutoConfig service is not launching properly. This took me a bit to find, but I found the answer provided by Barry Hubbard back in March of 2010. I will provide a link to his answer at the bottom. First though, lets discuss HOW this might have happened. I can think of only two possible sources:
In the way of background, my problem started shortly after trying to track down a possible virus infection (suspected remnants from a Fake AV program), and running a bunch of updates (including Windows 7 SP1) shortly after not finding anything more than tracking cookies. I used Trend Micro, CCleaner’s Spyware Checker, MalwareBytes, and SuperAntiSpyware – zilch, nada, nothing. Either it’s a new virus with the ability to take control from TrustedInstaller (I am very concerned if so), or one of the system files was scrambled during an OS update. I will point to evidence of the contrary shortly.
First, lets look at the registry. Go to Start, and type regedit. Again, likely need administrator privileges to proceed. Check the following keys and make sure the “Start” entry value is set at “3”:
If one of the values is NOT 3, then change the value and try your wireless connection again. If this still fails, or the values are already set to 3, then it is time to go to Windows Explorer!
Select Start, then select Computer. Navigate to the following directory: c:\Windows\L2Schemas.
Check the following system protected files for zero length (size of 0 KB):
All three of these XML files are needed to launch the WLAN AutoConfig service. If one of them is zeroed out, you get the problem we are having where everything appears fine, but the service fails to launch.
Repair the WLAN AutoConfig XML files
Okay, so we have found a corrupt WLAN AutoConfig XML file. First, you can (if you choose), use System Restore and attempt to fix the problem that way. In the case of a bad OS update, this should do the trick. If this is virus related, you have merely made a temporary fix as the true problem has now been put back to full strength.
Assuming you are going to skip System Restore, you will need to take control of the corrupt file(s) from TrustedInstaller. But first, find a Windows 7 install with a working wireless connection and copy the zeroed out system files to a thumb drive.
Go back to your problem child device, make sure the default Administrator account is enabled. Switch users to Administrator, and navigate back to the c:\Windows\L2Schemas directory. Right-click the zeroed out file(s), select Properties\Security\Advanced\Owner. Click the Edit button, and change ownership to the default Administrator account. Be sure NOT to make the Administrators group the owner as this might create severe security risks for your computer. Go back to the Security tab, and click Edit to add the default Administrator to the Group or user names section. Give the default Administrator Full Control of the file(s). Now just copy and paste the file(s) from the thumb drive and replace the existing zeroed out file(s).
Once this is done, you will not be able to give ownership back to TrustedInstaller. So, to keep the files somewhat secure, go back to the Security tab on the replaced files and set the default Administrator’s permissions to Read, and Read & Execute. Log out from the Administrator’s account, and disable it.
Rejoin the World of Wireless Wonders
Go back to services.msc, find the WLAN AutoConfig service, and start it up (refer to step 1.d above). You should see the service now listed as Started, and the wireless network icon should now appear in the System Tray. Welcome back, and many thanks to Barry Hubbard. Here is a link to his post on the issue:
As I mentioned above, I am not truly convinced that this was a Windows OS update problem. The chance is there, true, but looking at the files I found zeroed out, the Modified date was shown as back in 2009. This might not truly indicate anything where a virus is concerned as a truly sneaky bug might be able to mask this property. The fact that I have 20 laptops which have (for the most part) all downloaded and installed Windows 7 SP1, and only one had the issue – still, it’s either virus or an update fluke.
More troubling to me, is the possibility that a virus can take a file away from TrustedInstaller and modify it. The whole purpose of the UAC and the creation of the TrustedInstaller persona was to prevent just this type of problem. But, that being said, black hatters are notorious for finding ways around just about all safeguards when they truly want to. Hopefully my posting this here (again, thanks to Barry), will help others recover from a somewhat perplexing wireless service problem in Windows 7, and likely Vista as well as both use the same service (XP uses Wireless Zero).