There’s no escaping the fact: we all rely on a good internet connection for much of our daily lives. So, what can we do when our internet connection suddenly drops?
Thankfully, we’re sharing a list of ten simple steps to troubleshoot poor internet – and, more often than not, one of these actions will have you back online in no time at all.
Check #1: Are You Sure the Connection Problem is at Your End?
We always start with the obvious, and for a good reason; it offers the most straightforward fix. If you find you can’t access a website, it may not actually be a problem with your connection.
Even the most reliable websites suffer from the odd hiccup, going offline due to a client-side server issue. So, don’t immediately jump to conclusions and start fiddling with the wires of your router – instead, see if you can access some of your other favorite sites, first.
Advice: If you see a connection error message when trying to load a website, try loading a few other popular sites to check if it is your connection problem – or theirs!
Check #2: Is All Hardware Properly Connected?
It may sound self-evident, but the most common – and often-overlooked – reason for a dropped connection is loose wiring. Wires and cables can detach from time-to-time and will take your modem offline; meaning you cannot browse the web, check emails, or do whatever it is you need to do.
Perhaps a family member moved the router as they tried to troubleshoot another problem, or the cat knocked over the box – whatever its cause may be, this is step two in your connectivity troubleshooting.
Advice: Make sure the hardware is connected correctly with no loose wires; plus, check it’s switched on at the mains?!?
Check #3: How Strong Is Your Wi-Fi Signal?
Signal strength is the bane of any internet user; the tease of the buffering icon, the sudden drop at that inconvenient moment as you navigate the office floor. If you step too far from your internet access point, your connection will inevitably slow – before disappearing altogether.
Moreover, if other devices are interfering with the system, you may also experience connection issues; even when close to the router – so, always check nothing is disrupting the signal.
Advice: First, check where the internet access point is and that its position provides sufficient coverage wherever needed. Then, if you are struggling for signal in specific areas, consider adding a device to boost the signal strength.
Check #4: Do You Have Conflicting IP Addresses?
Now, it’s time to check the technical details. Sometimes, your computer may share an IP address with another system, and the conflict will result in an unstable internet connection.
Thankfully, changing an IP address isn’t as tricky as it might sound – as merely switching your modem off for five minutes could do the trick.
Advice: Check if other systems might be using the same IP; or, simply change your IP address to see if that resolves the problem.
Check #5: Is a Firewall Interrupting Your Connection?
Firewalls are essential for a less-congested internet connection. However, sometimes they get confused and start to block the wanted internet traffic. Equally, if you’ve installed multiple firewalls on your machine, alongside other third-party applications, they may interact in such a way they are disrupting all internet traffic.
All you need to do is temporarily disable the firewalls to double-check if they are the culprit – but always be sure to re-enable them afterward, once you know they are not causing the problem!
Advice: Check firewalls aren’t blocking internet traffic by temporarily disabling new, or upgraded, software to see if this fixes the issue.
Check #6: Has the Network Configuration Changed?
For security purposes, Wi-Fi networks will often require a private key or phrase before allowing access to the internet – usually via WPA or WEP. People can change these keys, or update the passwords used to access the network, which will result in a blocked internet connection, even if you’ve logged on before.
Advice: Check if anyone has recently updated the security keys on the router, or re-input the information to verify you haven’t made any mistakes when keying in the details.
Check #7: Is It a Router Issue?
Routers do age, and any technical hiccup will cause the internet connection to drop. The two most common issues we experience are too many devices creating excessive traffic, or a router overheating, and so malfunctioning in some way.
Or, maybe, if you’ve had the same hardware for a few years, it’s just time to upgrade. If you’re struggling to find an IP address, or the router console stops responding to requests, these are tell-tale signs it’s time for a new device.
Advice: Check the router’s lights are lit or flashing as expected; if not, reset, and hopefully this will resolve the problem. Otherwise, it could be new router time…
Check #8: Has Your Internet Service Provider Blocked You?
We hope they’d find no reason to, but your Internet Service Provider (ISP) could block you. You’d most-commonly experience this after your hour’s free usage expires in a hot-spot area, but it can also occur if you miss a payment on your subscription, or somehow break the ISP’s Terms of Service.
If you’ve used excessive bandwidth in a month, or have been sending spam or inappropriate content, your ISP may also take action.
Advice: If your account suddenly goes offline, contact your ISP to check if they have blocked you.
Check #9: Are Inclement Conditions Disrupting Service?
Internet access comes in all shapes and sizes, with some areas accessing satellite-based connections; unfortunately, severe weather can wreak havoc on such services.
Equally, those in a densely-populated district may experience intermittent outages during times of peak traffic – say, just as everyone logs in to check their morning emails – and this can bring networks down for a short while.
Dig deep, find patience, and hope regular service resumes once conditions are back to normal.
Advice: Once your ISP has confirmed they haven’t blocked you, ask if they are experiencing any other connectivity issues or outages in your area; you can often find this information via their online services. Sometimes, the ISP may charge a small fee to troubleshoot if the issue is localized to you.
Check #10: Is it Finally Time for a New Computer?
It’s a sad fact, but computers have a life-expectancy, too. As any machine ages, hardware can fail. Network adapters struggle; the operating system malfunctions; or, perhaps, a virus starts to play havoc.
The root cause can be trivial; as these are often signals of a well-used computer that has seen better days.
Advice: Run antivirus software to double-check your computer has not been infected by any malware. Then, reset your network connection, and reboot the device. As a last resort, start thinking about what machine to buy next.