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How to Troubleshoot Home WiFi and Router Issues

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How to Troubleshoot Home WiFi and Router Issues

Most people will have experienced one or more of these Wi-Fi problems:

  • • Wi-Fi doesn’t work
  • • Wi-Fi has slowed down
  • • The W-Fi network isn’t visible
  • • Devices are unable to connect to Wi-Fi

The good news is that 99% of Wi-Fi problems can be resolved by a simple reboot. Unplug the router, wait a while and then plug it in again. This should get it working again, and can even improve the speed too. In this guide we’ll look at the ways to troubleshoot Wi-Fi problems, and run through some of the tools available to help you identify the causes of Wi-Fi connection issues.

The Easy Fix for Home Wi-Fi

This really is the simplest fix, which will work most of the time. Unplug the router or power it off. Wait 2-5 minutes. Plug it back in. Give it 5 more minutes and then try again. One option if this doesn’t work is to contact your internet service provider for help – or you can try to narrow down the problem yourself.

Understanding the Icons on Your Router

Most routers have icons and LEDs (usually green or blue) that light up when the router is working. These will instantly give you important status messages about your router’s activity. These will be different from model to model but they all do the same thing: directing digital traffic over Wi-Fi.

Tip: you can usually find your router’s manual by googling the device model and “user manual”.

Most routers have three primary status indicators that you’ll need to check. They are:

The globe icon, which appears solid when the modem is connected; the Wi-Fi icon, which is solid when the Wi-Fi is connected and working normally; and the ethernet icon, which will be solid when the cables are connected and functioning properly. The icons may blink when the router is working as it should. If there are connection issues, the icons or lights will turn red or orange. If a light is orange or amber then that may signal reduced connectivity. Red usually indicates that the connection isn’t working.

Troubleshooting Specific Wi-Fi Problems

If switching off and on again hasn’t worked, then there are other strategies you can try, depending on the particular Wi-Fi problem you’re experiencing.

Slow network speeds

The first step: connect your router using an ethernet cable and use our speed test tool to check your internet speed. Then repeat the test using the Wi-Fi connection. If they are both slow then it’s probably not your equipment and you’ll need to contact your internet service provider.

If the connection is faster when you’re connected with the ethernet cable, you may be able to do something yourself. Wired connections will always be faster than wireless, but the difference shouldn’t be so huge that your Wi-Fi is barely functioning. There are steps you can take to optimize your network.

  • • Start by moving your router to a central location in your home or, if that’s not possible, explore how to use extenders to increase the range of your WiFi.
  • • Change the channel. If you have the option of using the 5GHz band, select that rather than the more congested 2.4GHz band.

No internet connection

The first step: Connect using an ethernet cable to see if you detect a signal with your computer. If not, you’ll need to report an access problem to your internet service provider. It could be that there’s a temporary outage in your area, or even a glitch with your account.

If you can load webpages using the ethernet cable then the connection issue has to be with your Wi-Fi network. If simple restarting the router didn’t work, then you have another reset option that restores the device to factory settings. Typically this is a button that you press using a paperclip or similar tool. Look for a small hole or consult your manual. You’ll then have to set up the router again, but if it works, it’s worth the effort.

Missing Wi-Fi network

The first step: check the positioning of the router. If it’s behind furniture or in a cabinet full of stuff it could be overheating. This will cause it to shut down automatically to prevent damage. Moving it somewhere where there’s better airflow will eliminate this issue.

A network can disappear if it’s reset itself after automatically updating itself. Did you rename your network when your system was set up? Check the default network name – it’s usually printed on the router – and see if you can see that instead.

A particular device won’t connect

The first step: Restart the device that isn’t connecting to your Wi-Fi. You won’t lose anything by also restarting the router itself.

No go? Sometimes the only solution is to delete the network and start over. On a smartphone (iOS or Android) select the network and an option should appear to ‘Forget this network’. You’ll then have to start from scratch, which will mean re-entering your password or key, but it should solve the connection issues.

Wi-Fi Troubleshooting Tools

There are lots of tools available to help you deal with Wi-Fi problems. One thing you’ll need to do to use some of them is log into your router’s control panel. We’ve listed a few brands below. Click the lick to see in-depth instruction on logging in so you can change Wi-Fi channels and adjust network names and passwords if you need to.

  • • Netgear login tutorial
  • • Linksys login tutorial
  • • Asus login tutorial
  • • TP-Link login tutorial

Test Your Speed

As mentioned, try our speed test tool so you can check the upload and download speeds you are currently experiencing. You can compare the speeds you’re getting with what you should be able to get in your area. Remember that Wi-Fi will always be a bit slower than a wired connection. You can use the tool to check whether the tweaks you’re making to your network are actually making a difference. It’s worth running the tool every now and then to see that you’re consistently getting the speeds that you should be getting.

For Mac – Wireless Diagnostics

Mac computers include a great program that will give you all the info you need on your network and troubleshoot problems. Access it by hitting Command + Spacebar and searching for Wireless Diagnostics.

Open the program and it will check your location for available Wi-Fi networks, and then give you two choices: ‘Monitor my Wi-Fi connection’ or ‘Continue to summary’. Ignore them both. At the top of the screen there’s a drop-down menu. From that select ‘Scan’. It will bring up a list of networks and give you the option to ‘Scan Now’. Choose that.

Not only will it show you all the connections in your local area but also the channels that are being used. Based on network congestion it will point you to the best channels (both 2.4GHz and 5GHz) to choose for optimal functioning. To change the channels that your router is using you’ll need to know the brand of the devices you use with Wi-Fi ad the IP address. You will need to enter this info. Finally, change the broadcast channel to the one recommended by the program, via your router’s control panel.

For Windows – NirSoft

NirSoft scans your Wi-Fi environment and displays the available networks, in much the same way as Wireless Diagnostic works on a Mac. It will give you information on the channels you’re using and other useful stats. To change the configuration, log into your router’s control panel and adjust as required.

For Mac and Windows – NetSpot

As an alternative to these tools, consider NetSpot. For more experienced users it also offers some useful additional features. One thing it can do is help you visualize your network’s ‘footprint’ in your home, identifying dead zones and areas of weak signal. You won’t find a much better all-round product – and it’s available as a free download.

My Computer Keeps Disconnecting From Wi-Fi

That ‘No internet’ message can be really annoying and disruptive. If it’s a Wi-Fi problem, there are several things to look out for.

To start with, check for any patterns in the disruptions. Is it a certain time of day? Could it be when you’re using the microwave oven? That may sound odd, but our homes are filled with signals that can interfere with your Wi-Fi.

The tools listed above should help you establish whether you have a problem with network interference. If that doesn’t seem to be the problem, then your router’s firmware may need updating. Just like Windows or other operating systems on a computer, router firmware needs updating every now and then for optimal functionality.

Here are links to firmware updates for some widely used brands of router:

  • • Netgear
  • • Linksys
  • • Asus
  • • TP-Link

Regular disconnects, even after you’ve done all the basic troubleshooting and tried the fixes, could mean that it’s time for a new router. Like all tech products they can fail as they age.

When to Get Expert Help

If you’ve tried everything and you still can’t fix your Wi-Fi problems, it’s time to reach out to the professionals. Sometimes there’s no way around it. You may have to pay a service fee, depending on the contract you have with your provider, but if you want to get back online it will probably be worth it!

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