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How to Fix Your Wi-Fi When It’s Not Working
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Just earlier today I was trying to search for a dessert recipe on the internet when suddenly my Wi-Fi disappeared. Apparently for no reason. Of course, it always happens at the most inconvenient times.
You’re just about to send that work email. You finally finished a writing project but forgot to save it. No matter the scenario, it’s always frustrating. When your Wi-Fi mysteriously leaves (multiple times), it’s time to do more than just stare at the “death donut” that tells you your computer is trying to reconnect.
Make sure it’s a Wi-Fi issue and not a device issue. If your Wi-Fi is down on more than one device, then it’s not your device that’s having trouble. Here’s a list of practical tips and problems you can check when your Wi-Fi’s not working:
1. Turn your Wi-Fi off and on again
Go to your router or modem and press the power button. Make sure you wait at least one minute. This gives your Wi-Fi the time it needs to reset everything. This works similarly to restarting your computer. Sometimes it just needs to be refreshed. This step might sound pretty basic, but it’s amazing how often it works.
Once you’ve turned your router or modem off and on, make sure to wait about 10 minutes for the network to start up again. Yeah it’s unfortunate. Seems like forever. And ever. If 10 minutes is too long to wait, grab some snacks or make some tea. That always helps.
When restarting your router, make sure to avoid pushing the "reset" button by mistake. While restarting your router will simply clear its memory and let it rest for a bit, a reset will restore all settings to default and require you to set up your network name and password again.
2. Change your Wi-Fi frequency and channel
If restarting your router or modem doesn’t do the trick, or if the problem keeps recurring, try changing your Wi-Fi’s frequency. This mostly helps if you live in an apartment complex or in households where too many people are using the internet all at once. Most routers have two “channels” or frequencies: 2.4GHz and 5GHz. Without getting too technical and lost in the weeds, the front of your router should tell you which frequency it’s using.
Many routers change from 2.4GHz to 5GHz when it senses too many people using the internet. If you’re using a dual-band router, it will likely make the switch on it’s own. If not, you may have to change it manually by following your router’s manual.
For most router manuals, you can change frequencies by going to the “Wireless Settings” page. Somewhere on your router you should find a setting with numbers in GHz. Change the channel by simply switching it from the one you’re currently on.
Some wireless devices don't play nice when it comes to changing frequencies. So we put together a helpful guide (and video) to help you swap frequencies whenever you need to.
3. Connect to your router with an internet cable
If you want to make sure your Wi-Fi is the problem, try connecting your computer to your modem via internet, or Ethernet, cable. If your internet connection works, you know it’s a problem with your Wi-Fi. If you still don’t have access to the internet, then the problem could be your internet service provider (ISP). Although this is rare, you should contact your ISP if this is the case.
Because in reality, the last thing you want to do is spend hours fixing your Wi-Fi when it’s not broken. It’d be like trying to fix your coffee maker just to realize it wasn’t plugged in … Whoops. Might’ve made that mistake before.
Using an Ethernet cable is one of our top tips for speeding up your internet. And we highly recommend one if you play online games too.
4. Look for patterns if the Wi-Fi problem keeps recurring
If your network keeps mysteriously disappearing, it could be something other than just your router or modem. Does it always happen when someone uses the microwave? Or did you recently add a new landline phone to your house? Sometimes older routers have trouble because of something else that’s happening in the house.
If you call your ISP and talk with a representative, they should be able to help you narrow down the issue. Paying attention to patterns can definitely help.
Although it might seem odd, that family member who’s always microwaving a burrito might actually be impacting your Wi-Fi. In this case, it might be time to invest in a new router. Thankfully, you can find routers for anywhere between $100 and $200 bucks. You can also connect a new router to your current internet network with the help of your ISP or router instructions.
5. Change your internet provider
If you’re consistently struggling with internet outages and your ISP wasn’t able to fix the problem, then it may be time to switch providers. We’ll show you some of our favorite internet providers, or you can drop your ZIP in the box below to browse ISPs in your area.
Try these easy tips to speed up your internet.
Check out our easy guide to setting up your modem and router.