Most of us probably already reached that point where they would rather go without food or water for an entire day than without wifi. The dreaded moment when you notice the wifi is down, the existential crisis that soon ensues…. How are you supposed to live like that? How could you possibly finish eating your sandwich now, if you can’t simultaneously complete that amazing quiz that let you find out what type of condiment you actually are?
Well, jokes aside, a wifi connection that keeps dropping is annoying, it prevents you from getting your work done, it keeps you from communicating with friends and family, and interrupts your much-needed downtime, when all you want to do is watch your favorite show.
There are several reasons why a wifi connection may be dropping. We’ll go through 7 possible wifi issues and help you figure out what’s wrong with yours!
Here are the most common wifi connection issues and how to fix them:
1 – exclude all the basic, obvious issues
- Check the router and make sure it’s plugged in. Depending on the router model you own, it might have a switch that turns the wifi off. You or someone else in your home or office might have accidentally touched that switch, in which case the solution is pretty simple and obvious.
- Restart the router. It might just fix the problem.
- Check the device you’re trying to connect with: maybe you turned the wifi off by accident on your smartphone, tablet or laptop. Maybe you activated the Airplane mode without realizing. It happens a lot.
- If your wifi is dropping often and without an apparent cause, it might actually be the Internet provider’s fault. If the wifi connection goes down and then up without any intervention from you, it might be a sign that the Internet provider is to blame. The best way to avoid any hassle is to get your Internet service plan from a reputable company with good customer service right from the start. Contact your Internet provider or IT company if you have frequent connectivity issues and you are confident that your equipment is functioning properly.
2 - Network range and power issues
Your router has a certain range, and if you’re at the outer limit of that range, your wifi connection will stop and start over and over again. Fortunately, that problem is not hard to fix. There are several steps you can take:
- The closer you are to the router, the better your wifi works. Install the router near your favorite spots for working and relaxing inside your home, and your life will become a lot easier.
- When shopping for a router, take into account the size of your home and how many devices will be connected to the network. Buy a device with a range that covers the entire surface of your home.
- If you don’t want to get a new router, there are antenna upgrades or range extenders that might help you get a better wifi signal inside your house.
- Protect your router with a secure password. The downside of a router with a longer range is that others (your neighbors, for example) can connect to your wifi, which, obviously, will lead to slow speed and other connectivity issues.
3 - Radio interferences
Most homes have a lot of devices that send radio signals: microwaves, Bluetooth-connected gadgets, automated doors, automated window blinds, cordless phones and so on. All those radio signals could interfere with the wifi network. How to fix it?
- The easiest solution is to step away from the devices that you think are the problem or to turn them off for a while. However, that’s only a temporary solution, because, as we all know, streaming movies goes hand in hand with making lots and lots of popcorn, so you really can’t avoid using your wifi and your microwave oven at the same time.
- A better, more definitive solution is to change the wifi channel number in order to prevent any interference. Most devices that send radio signals in our homes use a pretty narrow radio frequency range around 2.4 GHz. This frequency is also divided into multiple, smaller channels. In the United States, there are 11 such channels you can use when setting up your wireless network. By default, the vast majority of wifi equipment shipped and sold in the US are set to channel 6. If you notice an interference from other devices in your home, or even from a different network, consider changing the channel up or down. It’s not as complicated as it might sound: you need to access the channel from your router’s menu, usually under the Advanced options of the Wireless (or WLAN) section. There, you’ll be able to see what channel you are on and to move it up or down. You can also download apps that show you the channel of your network and of the surrounding networks. This way, you’ll know for sure if you need to change the channel or not. Call your IT professional if you'd like help with this.
4 - Too many connected devices
Not too long ago, the only devices in our homes connected to the Internet were the desktop computers and the laptops. Well, things changed a lot, and now a lot of things are connected: smartphones, tablets, TV sets, smart speakers, smartwatches, wireless surveillance camera kits, all sorts of other wearable devices such as fitness trackers, and so on. All of those devices take a smaller of larger portion of your bandwidth, so no wonder the speed is lagging.
- Turn off the devices you’re not using, or at least turn the wifi off on them. Your tablet might be downloading updates, the TV might be streaming movies without anyone watching – you get the idea. So, simply turn each device off when you’re finished with it. Also, it would be a good idea to check all the apps on all your devices and delete the ones you are not using. Many apps keep updating without you even realizing and hogging bandwidth in the process.
- There are apps that help you limit bandwidth for some of the devices in your house or your office. Use the apps to distribute bandwidth where is most needed. Also, you can schedule your updates and downloads when it’s most convenient for you, when you’re not using your wifi.
- Contact your Internet provider and ask if they have better offers, with more traffic included.
5 - Are you connected to the correct network?
Especially if you’re living in an urban area, chances are you have dozens of networks around you. Your device might connect to a different network than your own, which would result in very slow speed and the connection going on and off. It might even jump between networks, which, of course, also causes connectivity issues.
- Take steps to prevent this scenario from happening. Set up your smartphone, tablet and laptop to stop joining networks automatically. Beside the connectivity issues, this situation can create very serious cyber security problems for you.
- Change the default name of your network. Manufacturers ship routers with a default network name. If one of your neighbors have the same router brand, and neither of you bothered to change the network’s name, your devices will get confused and connect to the wrong network.
6 - Keep the updates coming!
In order to work properly, your wifi network relies on software installed both on the computer and on the router itself. The computers needs the so-called device drivers, while the router contains the other piece of the software puzzle known as the firmware. These small pieces of software can become obsolete or corrupted over time, which means the wifi network stops working.
- Keep the router’s software updated. Access the manufacturer’s website or another trusted source for software updates and download and install the latest version of the firmware;
- Do the same thing for your computer, laptop or other device – keep the network drivers updated. This usually happens automatically, so you should be OK if you don’t postpone the updates that your OS manufacturer sends your way.
- Sometimes updating your router can be tricky. If you have questions or need anything, give your IT support company a call.
7 - Software issues
Maybe it's not the wifi signal. It may be your computer or something installed on it. Sometimes, a new piece of computer software can create connectivity issues. If you installed any piece of software that has anything to do with the networking capabilities of your operating system, and the wifi suddenly drops, it’s safe to assume the new software caused the problem.
- Update the network drivers, as mentioned earlier, because it might fix the issue.
- If that doesn’t work, uninstall the new software. You could try to reinstall it again, maybe the problem was caused by a corruption of the software.
- If you're still having trouble after this, give your IT services company a call for assistance.