How to Troubleshoot Common WiFi Problems
There are many reasons your WiFi connection may be slow or malfunctioning - here's how to get to the root of the problem so you can get back online to get your work done.
1. Identify where the problem is coming from
When you have a problem with the WiFi connection, the culprit could be one of three things:
- Your device
- Your network
- The internet itself
That’s why the first order of business is to check that your other devices are connected to the internet. If the internet isn’t working on your laptop, but it’s fine on your tablet, you need to figure out what’s wrong with your laptop.
If it’s not a device issue, you want to move on to tip #2. If it is a device issue, check that all software is up-to-date and do an online search to troubleshoot any specific issues with the device.
2. Check that everything is plugged in properly
Most routers have one light that shows the status of your internet connection. It might be labeled Internet, WAN, or be marked with a symbol
Before you try anything else, check that your router’s LED lights are on. If the light is lit up solidly, you can move on to the next step in the troubleshooting process.
If you use a combination router/modem, it’s a similar system. These devices have more LED lights to indicate the status of different things, so look for the light labeled Online, Cable, Sync, or Signal (or the relevant symbol).
If the light is red or blinking, there’s a problem with your internet connection.
First, check that all of your cables are plugged in securely — they’re usually on the back of your router. If the cable is fine but the blinking lights persist, try step #3 before making a call to your service provider.
3. Restart your router
Here’s an old trick IT professionals use all the time (and one you may roll your eyes at) — powering the device off and on.
It’s simple, but if you call your internet service provider this is probably the first troubleshooting step they’ll suggest.
Disconnect the power cord (or cords) then reconnect the modem after one or two minutes.
4. Try a new channel
WiFi networks rely on “channels,” and they can have a big impact on the speed of your connection.
This is a more advanced tip, but it could be the difference between an unusable connection and blazing fast speeds.
First, log into your router and locate the Wireless Settings page. Every model is different, but this page should include a ‘Channel’ option — look for a drop-down menu with numbers written in GHz.
Note which channel you’re currently using, then choose a new channel (any channel is fine). Save the changes and wait a few minutes before testing your connection again. If the new channel doesn’t work, try another. If the issue doesn’t seem to be channel-related, return to the one you started with.
If you aren’t sure how to log into your router, you can easily find instructions online by searching your model number.
5. Upgrade your router
Technology changes rapidly, and it’s not uncommon for older routers to have trouble keeping up.
If you’ve recently added new devices to your home network, need better coverage, or want to take advantage of the latest and greatest in WiFi technology, consider upgrading your router or router/modem.
6. Make sure you have a backup plan
Maintaining a steady WiFi connection can be surprisingly difficult, especially if your entire household wants to be online at the same time.
Sometimes, the best solution is to work from somewhere with a dependable connection, like a virtual office space.
In these workspaces, you won’t be responsible for being your own IT department. The virtual office space provider will make sure the WiFi is working properly so you can focus on the workday.
There are plenty of virtual office providers across the country, so it’s easy to find an option that works for you. If there’s an Intelligent Office location near you, don’t hesitate to stop by for a visit! You can even take the WiFi for a test run.