The Most Wi-Fi Issues, and The way to Repair Them

We're so used to having Wi-Fi available for listening to music, streaming our favorite shows, and working from home that we rarely think twice about connecting until suddenly we're without Wi-Fi.

Loss of connection is a daily hassle, but most connection problems are easy to fix, so you can reconnect relatively quickly. If your WiFi goes down, you can regain access yourself by fixing some of these common problems.

Slow or no internet access in certain rooms

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Wi-Fi is a radio wave, which means your router broadcasts in all directions from a central location. If your router is in a far corner of your home, you are unnecessarily covering much of the outside world. If you can, move your router to a more central location. The closer you can place your router to the center of your coverage area, the better the reception throughout your home.

If you have external antennas, you can also try adjusting these. Switching between fully vertical and fully horizontal positions can help go in multiple directions.

If you live in a residential building, other routers can interfere with yours. Free software like NetSpot for Mac and Windows (and Android) or Wi-Fi Analyzer for Android can show you every wireless network nearby and the channel they are using. If your router overlaps with certain networks nearby in certain rooms, you should consider switching to a less congested channel.

If none of these help, your home may be too much for a router. Consider buying a wireless repeater or setting up an old router to extend the range of your main router.

Slow internet everywhere

If your Wi-Fi speed is slow regardless of where you are, plug a laptop directly into your modem and test your internet speed using a website like speedtest.net. If the speed is still slow, the problem is likely with your internet connection, not your router. Contact your ISP.

If it doesn't, it could be that your current wireless channel is crowded from your devices or other nearby networks. Change the channel of your router in your router settings. However, every router brand does it a little differently.

If that doesn't help, it might be helpful to do a factory reset and set up again. Most routers have a reset button that you can hold down with a paper clip. If you do this for 30 seconds, the router should default to factory reset. Use our guide on setting up a WiFi router to get everything set up correctly and see if it helps.

If none of these work and your wired internet is fine, your router may die. Consider Buying a New One: Here are the Best Routers We Know. If the router seems fine, it could be your modem instead, which may have connectivity issues on the way out.

A device cannot connect to the WLAN

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Sometimes you come across a problem with a specific device. It's probably just a brief problem. Turn off the WiFi on your device and turn it on again. If that doesn't work, do the same to your router by unplugging it and plugging it back in 30 seconds later.

If that doesn't help or the problem occurs again, you should delete your current network from the list of networks stored on your device and reconnect.

If you are running Windows 10, search for Wifi Troubleshooter and open the "Identify and repair network problems" result. This will go through a series of diagnostics that will allow connectivity to be restored. You can run wireless diagnostics on MacOS. Hold down the Option key and click the AirPort (Wi-Fi) icon in the menu bar. Find Open Wireless Diagnostics and follow the instructions on the screen.

If none of these work, consider restarting the device.

Nothing can connect to Wi-Fi

If you can't connect to your WiFi at all, connect your laptop directly to the router with an ethernet cable and see if you can connect that way. If this works, your WiFi is the problem. If it doesn't, your internet may be down completely. In this case you want to contact your ISP.

Resetting your router can fix a variety of problems, and an inability to connect is one of them. Use a paper clip to press the reset button on the back of the router for 30 seconds. The router should default to the factory settings. Use our guide on setting up a WiFi router to get everything set up correctly.

If this doesn't make sense, you may need to buy a new router.

Connections are dropped at random times

Is there a pattern? Disconnect when using the microwave? It may sound strange, but some routers have problems with it, especially with the 2.5 GHz frequency or if you're using an older microwave with shielding issues.

There may be interference from other networks or devices. If your neighbors are heavy WiFi users at a certain time each day, it can slow you down. Changing your router's channel can help. You can use NetSpot on Mac and Windows and Wi-Fi Analyzer for Android to show you every wireless network nearby. If your networks overlap with networks nearby, switching to a less congested channel in your router settings can help.

If that doesn't work, do a factory reset on your router by pushing a paper clip into the miniature hole.

The Wi-Fi network disappears completely

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If you lose track of your Wi-Fi network on one device, your router may have reset itself. Are you seeing an unprotected network named for your router brand? That could be yours. Connect a laptop or desktop to it with an Ethernet cable and set up a wireless router in our manual so that everything is configured correctly again.

If you don't see such a network, connect your laptop to the router via ethernet and see if you can get a connection. Please refer to our guide for your router's IP address and credentials for further help.

The network connects, but there is no internet access

It might sound like a tired tip, but try resetting your modem by unplugging and plugging it back in. If that doesn't work, try resetting your router in the same way as well, assuming it's a separate device.

Connect a laptop or desktop to your router with an ethernet cable (these are the best). If this works, the router has a problem and may need to be reset. However, if there is still no internet then there may be an outage. Contact your ISP.

The router keeps crashing and only a restart will help

If your router needs to be restarted regularly, you should reset it completely. Most routers have a reset button that you can hold down with a paper clip. If you do this for 30 seconds, the router should default to factory reset. Use our guide on setting up a WiFi router to get everything set up correctly.

If that doesn't work, your router may be on its way out. Your only real option is to return it if it's within the warranty period or to buy a new one.

I forgot the WiFi password

If you really can't remember your WiFi password and there are no notes or maps written on it, you need to reset your router. Use a paper clip to press the hidden switch in the perforated panel on the back of your router for 30 seconds. It should then use the factory settings by default.

Use our guide on setting up a WiFi router to get everything set up correctly.

Unknown devices on my Wi-Fi network

Log into your Wi-Fi app or administrator settings (which you can find by looking for your IP address in your browser – this is how to find it). Look for a list of currently connected devices and find the devices you don't discover. First, make sure these aren't connections that you didn't realize you had. For example, each smart device has its own connection, and they can have some weird titles if you haven't named them. Game consoles and televisions can also be connected.

If you've ruled out all potential devices and there are still a connection or two undetected, someone else may be hijacking your Wi-Fi network. In this case, look in your settings for an option to block these devices in your WLAN and, if possible, block their MAC addresses. Then change your WiFi password and restart your router (that's how it works). This won't stop particularly determined hackers, but is usually enough to kick unwanted guests off your network.

A recently released update interrupted Wi-Fi

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This can happen with some operating system updates. For example, Windows 10 updates in early 2020 had bugs that prevented some users from connecting to their Wi-Fi networks. In this case, it was because the operating system was not properly supporting Wi-Fi adapters.

When something like this happens, your best bet is to wait for a patch that will fix the problem. In the meantime, remove the update and roll back your system to an earlier version to restore your online connectivity.

The satellite routers on my mesh network are not connecting

Make sure your satellite devices are turned on and turned on. If so, try unplugging and reconnecting the problematic device and see if it can then connect to your network. If you can restart a Wi-Fi point with your router app (for example, Google's Home app allows this), restart that point and see if that helps too.

You can also use Google to run a test to make sure the network is set up properly. You can find the WiFi points in the Home app under test network. If the test comes back with a weak or failed connection, you should try repositioning your satellite router so that it is closer to your primary router. This is also a good tactic for any mesh system that keeps dropping its satellite points – they could be too far from the primary point.

You can also check whether your satellite router devices have a different SSID than your primary router. If they are all accidentally assigned the same SSID, the mesh network may not coordinate properly.

If your router still can't connect, make sure nothing significant has changed in your network settings. For example, if your ISP wide area network (WAN) type has changed for any reason, you may need to go back to the settings for the router and make sure the correct WAN setting is selected.

There are additional special cases where certain Wi-Fi technologies can disrupt mesh networks. Therefore, it is recommended that you contact router support directly and explain your situation if nothing works.

My smart device won't connect to Wi-Fi

Google Nest Home devices

First, make sure that both your smart device and router are updated. Then try to reset your router and restart your smart device. You can either unplug the smart device and plug it in, or look for a restart option in the app. For example, the Google Home app has a restart tool under every device section you can use.

If the device is still not properly connected, try moving it next to the router and see if it connects. Distance and interference can make a difference, especially with smaller smart devices. You should also double check that your smart device doesn't need a ZigBee hub to function. This is more common with older smart devices, but it still occurs occasionally.

If your smart device keeps emitting a signal, especially during peak hours, check that your router supports automatic band switching for devices. If so, turn this feature off: Sometimes a router will try to switch a smart device to another band but the device is not ready to do so, which will cause the connection to drop. You may also have problems connecting to a mesh router and you may need to fine-tune your network connection for smart devices to work.

Finally, there are a number of other router settings that smart devices can block. If you can't find what is wrong, call support for this device and explain that you think your router is having problems connecting.

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