Wi-Fi gives you the freedom to enjoy the Web without being bound by a hardwire connection. It’s a convenience most of us consider more necessity than luxury, so it’s frustrating when it doesn’t work as it should. Thankfully, you don’t have to be an IT mastermind to fix most wireless Internet problems. From slow Wi-Fi to no Wi-Fi, here are 11 ways you can fix most of your Wi-Fi woes on your own.
Problem: No Wi-Fi signal
If a Wi-Fi signal is available but your device isn’t picking it up, try these troubleshooting tactics.
1. Press the Wi-Fi button on your device
Some laptops have an on/off switch for Wi-Fi. Look on the side of your device (or on the keyboard) for a button or switch labeled with a wireless router icon. If you find one, press it. This may allow your device to detect Wi-Fi signals again and allow you to get connected.
2. Reboot your device and your wireless router
Rebooting can fix possible software or firmware problems with your computer or router. If rebooting doesn’t work, unplug your router, wait 30 seconds, and plug it back in. This should restore your wireless network and allow you to connect to Wi-Fi.
3. Power off your equipment
If your Wi-Fi stops working while you’re using it, power off your computer, then turn off your router and modem. Note: you may have an all-in-one modem/router. Check to make sure all cables and power plugs are fully engaged. Turn your devices back on, starting with your modem, then your router, and finally your computer. Allow each device to turn on completely before powering up the next one — the lights on the device will stop flashing when they have finished booting up.
4. Restore your router to its factory settings
If your device still doesn’t identify your Wi-Fi network, press and hold the small reset button on the back of the router for at least 10 seconds. This will restore your router to its factory defaults, which may make it detectable again. Unfortunately, this will also delete your settings, so you’ll need to re-secure your Wi-Fi and reconfigure your Internet connections.
Problem: Slow Wi-Fi
Slow Wi-Fi can be more frustrating than no Wi-Fi at all. Fortunately, sluggish Wi-Fi is usually easy to remedy.
5. Secure your Wi-Fi network
If your wireless router isn’t protected by a robust password, anyone can mooch off it. Not only does this make your personal data vulnerable to cyber criminals, it can also slow down your Wi-Fi. Change your Wi-Fi network’s default password to one that’s more difficult to crack. For extra protection, turn off the router’s Service Set Identifier (SSID) broadcasting option. This prevents other people from seeing your network in the first place.
6. Update your router’s firmware
Fixing slow Wi-Fi may be as easy as updating the router’s firmware. Periodically check the router manufacturer’s website to determine if a free update is available.
7. Switch your wireless router’s channel
If your router is set to a congested channel it can slow down your Wi-Fi connection. Try switching your router to channels that tend to be less crowded, like 1, 6, or 11, to dodge interference with other Wi-Fi networks.
8. Upgrade your router
If your router is several years old or damaged in any way, replacing it with a new one may be the answer to faster Wi-Fi.
Problem: Limited Wi-Fi range
Weak signal strength is a classic Wi-Fi issue. Try these tips to strengthen your wireless router’s signal.
9. Relocate your router
For better or worse, the location of your Wi-Fi router can affect its signal strength. To get the strongest signal possible, place the router close to the center of your home and keep it out in the open. Don’t hide it in a drawer, TV console, or anywhere that may restrict signal transmission. Make sure the router is at least 10 feet away from devices that may interfere with it, such as a baby monitor, microwave, or cordless phone.
10. Replace your router’s Wi-Fi antenna
The antenna your router came with may not be strong enough to send a signal throughout your home or to penetrate hard-to-reach areas. Replacing your router antenna with a high-gain or booster antenna can extend and strengthen your router’s signal, and may provide the coverage you need. There are two types of antennas: omnidirectional and directional. Typically, a household router has an omnidirectional antenna, which broadcasts the signal in all directions. But a directional antenna, which sends the signal just one way, can be helpful if you’re having trouble getting Wi-Fi in a specific area of your home.
11. Buy a Wi-Fi extender
Also called a repeater, a Wi-Fi extender rebroadcasts your router’s signal and can further improve the signal’s range and speed. You can use an extender with or without a high-gain antenna.
If your Wi-Fi is being problematic, try these DIY tips. There’s a good chance you can get your Wi-Fi running up to speed without the help (or expense) of a professional.