Problems With Wireless Keyboard & Mouse

by Keith Evans

Wireless keyboard and mouse devices quickly gained popularity as users realized how the absence of peripheral cables reduced clutter on crowded computer desktops. As the devices became increasingly popular, however, a number of problems became common among users. Luckily, most of those issues have relatively easy resolutions.

Batteries

Perhaps the most common--and unavoidable--problem with wireless keyboard and mouse devices stems from their reliance on battery power. To be truly wireless, the devices must draw power from internal batteries in order to transmit their information to a receiver connected to the computer. As the batteries drain, the behavior of the keyboard and mouse may become erratic, eventually stopping altogether. Some manufacturers, like Microsoft and Logitech, have attempted to sidestep this issue by introducing rechargeable devices that can be placed in a charging station when not in use, though sales of these devices are considerably outpaced by the less expensive non-rechargeable models. Fortunately, this problem sports a relatively easy resolution: users can simply change the batteries to restore operation. Depending on how depleted the batteries are, though, the devices may need to be resynchronized to restore operation.

Synchronization Issues

Another common problem among wireless keyboard and mouse devices is a loss of synchronization between the device and the computer receiver. To properly function without interference from other nearby peripherals, wireless devices must be synchronized--a unique identification process that registers the wireless devices with the computer--before they can be used. If the batteries completely deplete in any of the units, if the computer is unused for an extended period of time, or if the wireless device fails, it may need to be resynchronized in order to properly function. The synchronization process varies from device to device, and instructions are provided by the device manufacturer either in the owner's manual or on the manufacturer's website.

Software Issues

Although most wireless keyboard and mouse devices work with computers right out of the box, some special features--like quick access keys on a keyboard or additional buttons on a mouse--require special software to drive their operation. Users who report issues with these features often have failed to install the software, or incorrectly loaded the software. In some extreme instances, the software may be altogether incompatible with the computer's operating system, rendering the device's special features unusable. If the software fails to load or cannot be installed, consult the manufacturer for assistance or exchange the device for a different model.

Interference Issues

Despite the synchronization process designed to safeguard against such problems, extremely active environments may generate radio signal interference that causes wireless keyboard and mouse devices to produce unexpected behavior. Some sources of interference include radios, mobile phones, desktop fans, fluorescent lights, wireless routers, and even large metal objects like filing cabinets. In most cases, the interference problem can be resolved by simply moving the wireless keyboard and mouse away from the source, though some interference, like that from a wireless phone, may require removing the interference source from the computing environment.

Device Failure

Although complete failure of a wireless keyboard or mouse is rare, it does occur in a small percentage of environments. Failure may occur suddenly, or it may happen over time as the device becomes increasingly difficult to use. Users who suspect complete failure should move the wireless keyboard and mouse device to another computer, change the batteries, resynchronize the devices, and test for operation; if the device still does not behave as expected, it should be replaced.

About the Author

Keith Evans has been writing professionally since 1994 and now works from his office outside of Orlando. He has written for various print and online publications and wrote the book, "Appearances: The Art of Class." Evans holds a Bachelor of Arts in organizational communication from Rollins College and is pursuing a Master of Business Administration in strategic leadership from Andrew Jackson University.