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How to fix common wifi problems [troubleshooting guide]

More and more people rely on wifi networks at home, office, or even when sipping their morning coffee in their favorite cafes. The thing is, as wifi becomes almost as ubiquitous as smartphones and computers in our digital world, a lot of people are still overwhelmed when it comes to troubleshooting it if something goes wrong. If you are one of them, this short guide should be a helpful reference on what you need to do should you experience your own wifi trouble.

Related reading: How to fix slow internet or slow browsing issue in your Windows 8, 10 PC

Below are the three major wifi issues that we address in this guide:

  1. How to fix no internet connection issue
  2. How to fix a slow wifi connection issue
  3. How to troubleshoot wifi network that works intermittently

Before we proceed to the main topic, we would like to remind you that we accept requests for assistance regarding their Windows computers. If you have a problem that you can’t seem to find a solution to, send us your issue by following the link at the bottom of this page. Just remember, windows problems can sometimes be difficult to diagnose so kindly make sure that you give us very detailed description of the problem. You want to mention relevant history that may have led to the issue. The more information that you can provide, the higher the chance of us diagnosing the issue more efficiently. We also expect that you mention whatever troubleshooting step/s that you may have done before contacting us in order to prevent repeating them in our article. Again, the more details you can give us, the faster it is for us to pinpoint the cause and its corresponding solution.

What is wifi?

Wifi is one of the most popular wireless technologies made available for millions of people around the world. It uses radio waves to provide fast internet and connections to several devices at once. Although radio frequencies are generally regulated by governments around the world, wifi works in the unregulated part of the spectrum. This same unregulated spectrum is also made available to other electronic devices and appliances. Without knowing it, you may have multiple devices at home right now that uses the same spectrum as your wifi router.

Causes of wifi problems

There are number of factors that can affect the quality of a wifi network and fortunately, most of them can be avoided relatively easily. Below are some of the common causes why your laptop may be having a wifi issue.

  • signal interference
  • signal is weak
  • lack of bandwidth
  • slow internet speed due to ISP issue
  • misconfigured firewall
  • computer’s network driver is problematic or outdated
  • incompatible software (computer side)
  • Outdated router firmware
  • router is overheating or malfunctioning

How to identify your wifi problem

Wifi problems can take many forms. For some, it may manifest as being unable to connect to the internet at all. Others may be able to connect but at such a terrible pace. Still others may be able to connect … until they can’t. If you want to troubleshoot your wifi connection, the first thing that you want to do is stop and think hard what it is you’re missing. It’s not that hard really. All you want to know is the type of wifi problem you’re facing. Some of the questions you would like to ask yourself should include the following:

  1. Can your laptop connect to the internet at all?
  2. Is the speed much slower than it used to?
  3. Is the connection working intermittently?

If you think any of these questions is true in your case and you don’t have an answer to it, continue reading.

How to troubleshoot your wifi network

As you can see, there can be a lot of factors that you need to consider if you want to get to the bottom of your wifi problem. If you’ve already identified the wifi problem you’re having at this point, you can then start narrowing down the possible causes to fix it. The first problem that we will tackle in this material is no internet connection.

How to fix no internet connection issue


The following troubleshooting steps are needed if your computer does not have full internet connectivity.

Make sure that wifi function is ON

If you noticed that your laptop can no longer download anything or can’t pull up any website, the first thing that you want to do is to check if wifi is ON. Some users are quick to blame the router or their ISP when their laptop is unable to connect to the internet so we want you to do this obvious thing. If you have a brand new laptop, it’s possible that you have left the wifi switch off. Some laptops have a manual switch for wifi so try to check that. Otherwise, simply head to the software wifi switch and verify that it’s on.

Check wifi signal strength

If your laptop receives one or two signal bars constantly, it may be at the very edge of the router’s effective  range. Try relocating to a spot that can give your computer better signal reception and see if that helps. Sometimes, repositioning the router’s antennas can also make a difference so try to do this as well.

If it’s impossible for you to get closer to the router, try using a signal range extender, also known as signal repeater. Some ISPs can provide it so talk to your ISP about first. If they don’t provide it, consider doing some research on how to buy one that’s compatible with your current equipment.

Verify that network adapter is active

If you’re positive that the wifi switch is ON but the computer remains disconnected, you can double check the View network connections under Control Panel. In Windows 8, type network connection anywhere on the Start screen and select the View network connections option in the search results. In Windows 10, type network connection in the search text box next to the Start button and click the View network connections option in the search results. If you can see your wireless connection in the list, you can right click on it to enable it. If it’s now showing “Disable” as an option, that means the network adapter is now configured to allow internet connection.

Check if you are connected to the right wifi network

If you surrounded by multiple wifi networks, always verify that your computer is using the correct one.  If needed, try to disconnect from the current wifi network and re-enter the correct security key. Although most laptops are designed to automatically connect to a previously connected wifi network, this troubleshooting step is required if you’re getting slow internet connection, or if there’s  no internet connectivity at all.

Ensure that internet is working

One of the reasons why your computer is unable to connect to the internet is the absence of internet service from your internet service provider (ISP) in the first place. If you have another device connected to the same wifi network, try to check if it can connect to the internet. If there’s no internet connection on the second device either, check the router light to see if internet service is working. Each router has its own set of light indicators so make sure you know what you’re looking for. If you suspect that there’s no internet service on the router, contact your ISP so they can help you.

Reset your networking device

Sometimes, a simple reboot helps so make sure you do everything on your end before you contact your ISP. One such simple step that may help you fix the problem is called powercycle. Basically, all you need to do is to turn off all your networking equipment and computer and wait for a few seconds. If you have a modem and router, make sure that you unplug them from the power source for at least 30 seconds. You also need to turn the computer off. After 30 seconds, turn the modem on and wait until it fully initializes. Once the lights become stable, power the router back on and wait until it initializes. After that, turn the computer on and see if internet is now back. If you don’t have a modem, just do the same thing for the router and computer.

Powercycle is sometimes needed, especially if your networking devices have been up and running for a long time.

Reconfigure your computer’s firewall settings

If another device that’s connected to the wifi is working but your laptop remains disconnected from the internet, the problem may be caused by the firewall. Just head over to Control panel and check the operating system firewall. If you’re running a third party firewall from a security vendor, make sure that you also check that the firewall is not blocking internet connection.

Revert Windows to its previous version

If you recently tweaked your laptop’s operating system, a modification may  have happened that affected wifi function. If you suspect that the current OS version maybe bad, try to make sure first that another device is able to connect to the internet using the same wifi. If internet on the second device works, you can then try to troubleshoot your computer’s operating system. The fastest way to do that is by restoring the earliest version of Windows via System Restore.

Make sure that wireless network drivers are up-to-date

Sometimes, outdated network drivers can lead to intermittent or no internet connection problem. To ensure that your computer’s network drivers are updated, you need to remove the existing driver from the system first. Here’s how to do it:

  • Head over to Control Panel and open Device Manager.
  • In the Device Manager, expand the Network adapters section to see all network devices.
  • Highlight your Wi-Fi or Wireless network adapter and press the Delete key on the keyboard to remove the device. If there is a check box to uninstall the drivers, leave it unchecked for the time being.
  • Once the device has been removed, close all windows, reboot the computer, and let Windows re-detect and install the network card.

How to fix a slow wifi connection issue


If your laptop can connect to the internet but at much reduced rate than normal, you may have a slow wifi connection problem. Below are the things that you can try to fix it.

Check if you are connected to the right wifi network

If you surrounded by multiple wifi networks, always verify that your computer is using the correct one.  If needed, try to disconnect from the current wifi network and re-enter the correct security key. Although most laptops are designed to automatically connect to a previously connected wifi network, this troubleshooting step is required if you’re getting slow internet connection, or if there’s  no internet connectivity at all.

Check wifi signal strength

If your laptop receives one or two signal bars constantly, it may be at the very edge of the router’s effective  range. Try relocating to a spot that can give your computer better signal reception and see if that helps. Sometimes, repositioning the router’s antennas can also make a difference so try to do this as well.

If it’s impossible for you to get closer to the router, try using a signal range extender, also known as signal repeater. Some ISPs can provide it so talk to your ISP about first. If they don’t provide it, consider doing some research on how to buy one that’s compatible with your current equipment.

Keep in mind that that in wifi connection, sometimes, distance matters. The farther your computer from the router is, the higher the chance of it receiving quality signals.

Not enough bandwidth

Another common reason for slow wifi connection problem is lack of bandwidth for all connected devices. Devices like gaming consoles can tend to hog bandwidth most of the time. Devices used for streaming services like Netflix can also consume a lot of bandwidth, resulting to other devices being unable to connect or suffer from slow connection issue. If your laptop tends to have slow connection issue only when everyone’s at home, chances are one or more devices are using data-hungry apps at the same time. To check, try to disconnect all devices connected to your wifi network. If your back to normal internet speed after doing that, our hunch is correct.

Check for signal interference

As mentioned above, wifi works in an unregulated spectrum so a lot of gadgets and appliances can operate in the same radio frequency in one small area like a home. Most of the time, a lot of people don’t change the default channels of their wireless devices so there’s always a chance of signal interference. Many modern routers are capable of automatically using a least crowded channel upon reboot so if you have a new networking device in your place, simply reboot the router. Don’t worry, signal interference should be the least of your worry as most laptops and wireless gadgets and smartphones are equipped with a system to detect least used channels.

If your router is capable of using both 2.4GHz and 5GHz simultaneously, make sure that you enable both bands to minimize signal interference. For more information on how to avoid signal interference, try talking to your ISP.

How to troubleshoot wifi network that works intermittently


Like slow wifi connection problem, intermittent wireless connection is often caused by environmental factors that affects wireless signal. Below are the things that you must do to try and fix it.

Check if a wired computer is also having intermittent internet connection

It’s important to know if the problem is on the router side or on your computer so using a second device like a wired computer is valuable. If the wired connection works without interruption, that means that something is affecting the wireless signal reaching your laptop. To fix that, try to relocate near the router. Remember, the closer you are to the router, the better the connection should become.

Put the router in the center of your house

The location of the router also matters a lot when it comes to ensuring good quality wireless signal. Make sure that the router is not boxed in by materials that can hamper wifi signal such as thick reinforced walls, glass, bodies of water, or metal. Placing a router near an aquarium can significantly affect the signal.

Check wifi signal strength

If your laptop receives one or two signal bars constantly, it may be at the very edge of the router’s effective  range. Try relocating to a spot that can give your computer better signal reception and see if that helps. Sometimes, repositioning the router’s antennas can also make a difference so try to do this as well.

If it’s impossible for you to get closer to the router, try using a signal range extender, also known as signal repeater. Some ISPs can provide it so talk to your ISP about first. If they don’t provide it, consider doing some research on how to buy one that’s compatible with your current equipment.

Keep in mind that that in wifi connection, sometimes, distance matters. The farther your computer from the router is, the higher the chance of it receiving quality signals.

Not enough bandwidth

Another common reason for slow wifi connection problem is lack of bandwidth for all connected devices. Devices like gaming consoles can tend to hog bandwidth most of the time. Devices used for streaming services like Netflix can also consume a lot of bandwidth, resulting to other devices being unable to connect or suffer from slow connection issue. If your laptop tends to have slow connection issue only when everyone’s at home, chances are one or more devices are using data-hungry apps at the same time. To check, try to disconnect all devices connected to your wifi network. If your back to normal internet speed after doing that, our hunch is correct.

Check for signal interference

As mentioned above, wifi works in an unregulated spectrum so a lot of gadgets and appliances can operate in the same radio frequency in one small area like a home. Most of the time, a lot of people don’t change the default channels of their wireless devices so there’s always a chance of signal interference. Many modern routers are capable of automatically using a least crowded channel upon reboot so if you have a new networking device in your place, simply reboot the router. Don’t worry, signal interference should be the least of your worry as most laptops and wireless gadgets and smartphones are equipped with a system to detect least used channels.

If your router is capable of using both 2.4GHz and 5GHz simultaneously, make sure that you enable both bands to minimize signal interference. For more information on how to avoid signal interference, try talking to your ISP.

Other things that you can do to troubleshoot a wifi issue

There are other troubleshooting steps that you can do but all of them are aimed towards fixing the router. These steps include:

  • Updating the router firmware
  • Changing the encryption method
  • Replacing the router

If you need more details on how to do each of these steps, kindly refer to your router documentation or consult your ISP (if they were the ones who provide the router to you).

 


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