Wi-Fi Woes? Surefire Solutions for 4 Common Problems

Wi-Fi is a fickle mistress.

When you connect to the Internet, your entire world feels smoother and more streamlined. You can surf the web casually, or work at breakneck speeds. With just a few clicks of the mouse or taps on your phone, you have unlimited information at your fingertips.

But when your Wi-Fi abandons you or fails to meet your expectations, you may feel frustrated or angry. You can’t meet your hectic deadline or catch up on the latest news.

If you have the following problems with your Wi-Fi, try these simple techniques.

1. Problem: New Router Won’t Connect to the Internet

You’ve noticed problems with your old router: overheating, slow speeds, unreliable connectivity. So you decide to save yourself the hassle and replace your old hardware with a newer, faster, sleeker model. You unplug the old one, plug the new one in, and read the user manual to correctly set up your new router. You see the new wireless network and can even connect your computer or device to the network—but you can’t browse the Internet!

Solution: Turn It Off and On Again

Most modern devices do better after a reboot, including your router. Unplug the network cable and the power from your modem. Leave everything disconnected for 30 seconds or more, then reattach the coaxial cable, FiOS, or DSL connection to the modem. Wait until the Internet light turns on, and reattach the remaining cables to your router.

This process flushes any information that your modem may have held onto from your old router. If you still have troubles connecting to the Internet, you may have to follow the setup instructions a second time.

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2. Problem: Slow Speeds

You signed up for a new 54 MBps wireless network, and you can’t wait for seemingly instant download and upload times. But after you measure the actual data transfer speed, you notice that your speeds don’t ever come close to the amount you paid for. In fact, your Internet runs so slowly that you can’t finish the most basic tasks.

Solution: Change Your Channel

In general, wireless networking never goes as fast as providers claim. You see slower speeds because wireless data can only flow on one link in one direction at one time. As a result, your maximum data transfer rate will clock in below half of the raw wireless speed you expected.

However, your slow speed could also result from a variety of problems. For example, most routers work on a 2.5 GHz band—the same channel as microwave ovens, cordless phones, garage door openers, and baby monitors. If you recently installed any of these devices, turn them off and check for any increase in your network speed.

Additionally, a 2.5 GHz band only has about three real channels (while the remaining channels overlap each other). If your neighbors use those same channels, you’ll both experience slower speeds.

You can use the device’s setup controls to manually switch the channel, or you might just add a 5 GHz band to your present router. This enables you to choose from 23 channels that help you avoid any unnecessary channel interference.

3. Problem: Lost Password to Your Router

You want to adjust your router (perhaps to adjust the channel), but you realize you’ve lost your password. You can’t access any of your router’s features to make any improvements in your Internet connectivity.

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Solution: Factory Reset

Restoring your router to its original factory default settings can be intimidating, but the process is fairly simple. Most routers have a recessed reset button on the back, and all you need to do is insert a paper clip to hold down the button until the LEDs blink. You can then use the default username to access your router’s features.

Can’t remember the default username or password? Your router’s manual should have them listed, and if you’ve lost the manual, you can usually contact customer support for help. But the typical default combination is admin/password or admin/admin.

4. Problem: Connection Keeps Dropping

After you fix your router and change the channel, you now manage to connect to the Internet with ease. You can skim your social media feeds and stream your favorite YouTube videos. But every now and then, the connection drops. The lights on your modem flicker until they’re off, and then they suddenly light up again without any rhyme or reason.

Solution: Buy a New Splitter

Connection drops are a common problem for those who rely on cable Internet service or FIOS, and they often result from a degraded signal coming into the modem. To minimize signal loss, replace any worn splitters as necessary.

If you have multiple splitters on an inbound cable connection (such as those that come into your home or for your entertainment system), determine if they are -7dB splitters (you can see this printed on the outside of the splitter). Switch your -7dB splitter with a -3.5 dB splitter to prevent your connection from dropping in the future.

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If you have a three-way splitter and you don’t use the third connection, opt for a two-way splitter.

Still Experiencing Problems?

Wi-Fi problems often have simple solutions, but even tech-savvy consumers need a little help now and again. Talk to an IT professional if you still experience any connectivity issues with your Wi-Fi.

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