Wondering “what’s wrong with my WiFi” is one of the most infuriating pastimes of modern life. Whether you’re working from home or trying to stream Netflix at night, when the signal drops, it can feel like you’re living in the Dark Ages.
Sometimes you may need one of the best Wi-Fi extenders to get coverage in every corner. Other times, there may be a simple fix that you can easily manage on your own. WiFi issues are notoriously difficult to diagnose and fix without home access with connection issues, but the tips below should give you some general pointers on how to proceed.
What’s wrong with my Wi-Fi?
1. My WiFi suddenly stopped working
Your WiFi could suddenly stop working if your signal completely disappears. Or your device may stay connected, but the dreaded “WiFi connected but no internet” message appears.
The difference could point to the location of the problem (for example, if you’re connected without internet, that suggests the bottleneck may be outside your home), but the troubleshooting steps are the same in both case.
1. Restart your hardware
There’s a reason “have you tried turning it off and on again?” is a cliche of tech support: more often than not, it actually works, eliminating gremlins and getting things back to working order.
If your Internet is the problem, rather than a specific device (more on that in a moment), reset the router, cable box, modem, and whatever else is responsible for bringing the Internet into your home. Most will have a reset button for this, but you can just unplug devices for 30 seconds as a catch-all alternative. Once plugged back in, wait a few minutes and see if your connection is working again.
2. Test multiple devices
If your laptop can’t connect, but your tablet or game console can, that suggests there’s a problem with the laptop. Again, a simple reboot can fix this (as can ‘forget’ the WiFi network and set it up again), but, if possible, it’s also worth connecting your device directly to the router with an Ethernet cable to see if it’s a problem with Wi-Fi or something else.
3. Watch out for interference
It may sound strange, but even devices that don’t use the internet can interfere with a wireless signal if they use radio waves. So if you’ve placed anything from a baby monitor to a microwave near your router, it could have an impact.
4. Check outages in your area
If a reboot doesn’t work and nothing can connect to the internet, it’s probably your internet provider’s problem.
Checking this without the Internet is, of course, tricky. But if your phone has a data plan, it’s worth visiting your ISP’s website or Twitter page to see if any issues have been reported. If all else fails, call them directly.
If there are no reported outages in your area and all devices are affected equally, you may need to replace your router. Your ISP may offer to do this for you, but frankly the quality may be questionable, so it may be worth buying your own.
2. My Wi-Fi signal is slow in some rooms
If you walk around the house with a laptop, you might notice a strange phenomenon: perfect internet connection in some rooms, but poor in others. The usual reason for this is quite simple: the WiFi signal deteriorates with distance and has trouble penetrating walls, doors, and floors, especially in older homes with thicker surfaces.
If possible, try to move your router to the most central position in your home, so that every room receives an equally strong signal. This isn’t always possible, and even if it is, you can manage to make all the pieces equally weak.
But there is an alternative: the best mesh Wi-Fi systems.
Mesh WiFi systems provide a central router and a number of satellite nodes that can be strategically placed around your home, boosting the signal and eliminating WiFi “no spots”. Since they’re all part of the same network, they share the SSID and password, meaning you can roam seamlessly throughout your home without having to reconnect.
There are a number of solutions available, but we recommend looking into Google’s Nest WiFi, Netgear Orbi, or if you’re on a tight budget, TP-Link Deco. If that’s still too expensive, you can consider the best WiFi dongles available for your budget.
My WiFi is slow everywhere
The first thing to check is whether you are actually getting what you pay for. WiFi booster apps are a good place to start. Visit an internet speed test site like speedtest.net, and make sure the numbers don’t match the broadband plan you’re on. If they do, you might just have to pay more and upgrade. Ideally, do the same test over a wired connection to make sure it’s the Wifi that’s slow and not the endpoint internet connection.
If your suspicions are confirmed and your WiFi is slow throughout the house, you can take action. Knowing how to make WiFi faster can make things better without looking to upgrade your router or change ISPs. However, as always, try a good old fashioned reboot before doing anything too hasty.
If you live in a crowded area – an apartment building, for example – your wireless channel may be overcrowded. Some apps for iPhone and android can show you which channels are the most congested, so you can change your router settings and find a clearer one. How to do this differs from router to router, so check your model’s manual for instructions.
My WiFi connection drops at random times
It might sound strange, but if your internet connection drops frequently at certain times, there might be a pattern. It could be anything from neighbors using their internet heavily at certain times of the day to your microwave having shield issues and dropping WiFi when in use!
If it’s an overuse issue (and the overuse isn’t coming from inside your home via a family member’s streaming or downloading habits), then you may have a little enjoy adjusting the WiFi channel in the router settings as shown in the previous section.
My WiFi fails when I reconnect to my computer
This seems to be an issue specifically with Windows 10 (and possibly Windows 11) computers, due to something called “Fast Startup” which is designed to keep things running for a quicker return to work.
A driver update might fix the problem, but if it doesn’t – or if your WiFi adapter manufacturer hasn’t released an update – you can disable Fast Startup by going to Control Panel. settings > Hardware and Sound > Power Options, then selecting “Choose what the power buttons do”. From there, uncheck the box labeled “Turn on fast startup”.